What is it?
Jaguar’s futuristic range-topping saloon remains a striking car, even three years after launch. For 2014, it’s been tweaked, with subtly honed suspension settings, better sat nav, standard eight-speed auto with stop-start plus big improvements in diesel efficiency.
But the really big news is the XJR, which returns at last with a 550bhp supercharged 5.0-litre V8. It’s the much-anticipated alternative to the Audi S8 and Mercedes S 63 AMG, with styling that’s perfectly in keeping with the hardcore ideals Jaguar’s R line has developed.
Although it is more comfortable and smoother-riding for 2014, the XJ remains a car to drive rather than be driven in. Up front, the XJ feels almost as compact as a 3-Series, in a good way, which probably has something to do with the low seating position, shallow glass and wonderful two-tier, sweeping dash.
In the spirit of the best sport saloons, the XJ has quick steering and a mobile rear, plus a beautiful ability to feel lithe and fluid over bumpy British B-roads. At times, it nudges brilliance. Even the ride is better for the new model year, if still not as compliant as an S-Class (although the optional and softer comfort pack gets close).
The new F-Type V6 petrol is a gem. It’s smooth, responds instantly, charges at higher revs and, surprisingly, even sounds sporting without being intrusive. Alongside it, the diesel is more relaxed, but still impressive, particularly with the sharp yet slurring eight-speed auto all cars get for 2014. The Supersport is a bit of an irrelevance but the more focused 550bhp XJR is more like it.
On the inside
The interior, all stitched spongy leather, has a handmade feel, yet by using all JLR’s cleverest infotainment and rotary gear selector parts, it’s a high tech place to be. Pity about the cheap and dated column stalks, mind.
Rear space is the Jag’s main bugbear, and if the rear seats are going to be put to much use, getting the long wheelbase version is imperative. It’s all much more decadent for 2014 though, particularly if you head to the options list and start building yourself a bespoke XJ. Who needs a Bentley? It may not have the S-Class’ brilliance, but the big Jag has character in spades.
The Jaguar XJ is performing very well in customer satisfaction surveys. Owners love them. Maybe even more so for 2014, with the new gearbox improving diesel economy to 47mpg and cutting emissions to 159g/km. Bang on the money. The 3.0 S/C is much better than the old 5.0-litre V8 too: the 5.0-litre S/C V8 remains, though, should sub- 25mpg be fine with you.