If you tour the field of a Concours d’Elegance or view a reasonably serious car collection, you’ll encounter classic Jaguars. Most people are struck by the elegant, modern lines of XK 120 through 150 sports cars and are quite surprised to learn that the still contemporary XKE was introduced in the early 1960s. That’s because Jaguar’s founder Sir William Lyons delighted in creating cars that were well ahead of their time.
Jaguar’s XJ sedan is clearly part of that heritage. The stunning first edition was so far forward in 1968 that it made rivals seem instantly out-of-date. In fact, its modern style became a liability over the decades, because Jaguar executives were too timid to mess with success and loyal buyers liked the car just the way it was. And even though the previous XJ was technically advanced, including all-aluminum construction, the car appeared retro when compared to other new luxury flagships.
Jaguar’s all-new 2011 XJ returns to Sir Lyons’ concept of plunging into the future. From every
angle this big sedan is a very contemporary design, yet it’s still true to its proud 75-year history. This XJ incorporates today’s popular four-door coupe style, complete with steeply raked front and rear glass, yet still manages to transport adults in style, including easy ingress and egress to the large rear compartment.
Inside, Jaguar offers its novel shift control that rises majestically from the center console when the car is started. The instrument panel is projected in a vivid graphic display that can change to display messages like low fuel warning or change color in dynamic driving mode. Soft leather with contrasting piping and wood that sweeps around the cockpit add a welcome and contemporary statement. The excellent standard sound system can accommodate a variety of input devices through a media hub with two USB ports, and for the audiophile, the 1,200-watt, 20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins option is sonic amazement.
A true test of any Jaguar is its roadworthiness, and the XJ is delighted to step up to that task. The direct injection 5.0-liter engine delivers 385 horsepower to easily move this big car with light throttle inputs. That power is helped by the Jaguar’s best-in-class weight of 4,131 pounds for the long wheelbase version, a 300-500-pound advantage over its European competitors. The weight-saving aluminum construction also yields a very stiff platform to enable a nice balance of ride and sporty handling.
Aside from the previous edition’s retro style, Jaguar has labored under its early legacy of questionable quality. But for the last decade or more, Jaguar’s quality ratings have been at the top of every credible survey, usually higher than its rivals. So to put an end to the worry of after sales costs, Jaguar includes complimentary scheduled maintenance, including wear items like brake pads and rotors and even wiper blades during the five-year/50,000-mile warranty period. Style, performance, and peace of mind should bring the XJ to the top of most luxury buyer’s lists. BRIAN DOUGLAS
The Fine Print
2011 Jaguar XJ L
TYPE: Front engine, rear-wheel-drive
ENGINE: 5.0-liter DOHC V8
HORSEPOWER: 385 @ 6,500
TORQUE: 380 @ 3,500
BASE PRICE: $80,575
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 16-cty/23-hwy