Sam Philip16 September 2009

Frankfurt show: new Jaguar XJ

We’ve had a ride in Jag’s new luxury limo… and caused permanent damage to our ears with the 1200-watt stereo

Frankfurt show: new Jaguar XJ

The new XJ is front and centre on Jaguar's Frankfurt stand, and it looks excellent. Any lingering doubts we had about the size of the XJ's arse have been dispelled by a good look at the car in the metal: it's a sharp, sleek thing that takes the XF's styling cues but moves them way upmarket.

Even better, we've had a ride in it. In the 503bhp supercharged V8, to be precise. We weren't permitted to drive the XJ, but from a brief stint in the back seat we can report that it skims delicately over bumps and feels improbably light-footed given its size.

Fast? On the couple of occasions we managed to convince our driver to put his foot down, very much so. And noisy too - not noise from the 5.0-litre V8 or the road, but from the new 1200-watt, 20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins stereo.

Yes, 1200 watts of massive surround sound. That is, in technical terms, a hell of a lot of sound; the sort of noise on tap that, with an accidental flick of the volume dial, could see your brain exiting your ears at terminal velocity.

Even ignoring the monster stereo - not an easy thing to do - the XJ's cabin is a lovely place to be, all burnished wood and thick leather and shiny dials. Flick the ‘sport button' and the dial display - a completely virtual unit - shimmers from blue to red, a neat touch that makes us very happy.

The clever dual-view satnav screen - as seen on the new Range Rover - is available as an option, too.

So, yeah, from our short spell in the XJ, it's fair to say we're impressed. We won't know for sure if it's as polished an all-round performer as first impressions suggest until we drive it early next year. We've got high expectations.

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