Sam Philip09 July 2009

Rear of next year?

The new Jaguar XJ is here, and it’s got one hell of an arse. Is it a grower? We reckon it just might be…

New Jaguar XJ

See more Jaguar XJ pics

These are the first proper photos of the new Jaguar XJ, leaked onto the web before the car's official unveiling this evening.

When we say ‘new', we really mean it: this is the first major departure from the visual template of the original XJ way back in 1968, and - well, it's a bit different, isn't it?

Take a look at that arse. Even Ian Callum, the designer of the XJ, admits it's not an easy shape to swallow. Er, figuratively, we mean.

"I know you're struggling with the rear end of this car," says Callum. "Lots of people will. That's the point."

Callum is pitching the XJ as a design for the future, a shape that might challenge people now but will look right, glamorous even, once we've all got used to it.

Time will tell, but beneath the XF-made-bigger shell, there's lots of good stuff here. The basic structure develops that of the current XJ, with a bonded aluminium chassis that's around 200kg lighter than its main rivals.

Engines will follow the lead of the XF, so we'll see the new 5.0-litre direct injection V8 in normally aspirated or supercharged guise plus the two 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesels in 237 or 271bhp forms.

On the inside, things are spectacular: leather and wood alongside touch-screen telematics and a 20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins stereo. Our man Jason Barlow got an early look at the XJ and described it as ‘the most convincing luxury saloon this side of the Rolls-Royce Phantom': high praise indeed.

But until we drive it later this year, much of the pre-match chat will doubtless focus on the XJ's looks - in particular that arse. What do you think?

For the full story behind the new Jaguar XJ, pick up the August issue of Top Gear magazine, out on July 15.

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