Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Don Cheng
The XJ has always been one of my favourite Jaguars. There's something about it that oozes a sort of classiness that's not found in your typical German sedans. The BMW 7-series, Audi A8, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class all capture that sporty and attractive character that make them big sellers, but Jaguar has kept a certain kind of persona that differentiates it from the competition - Ian Callum, Jaguar's Director of Design, made sure of that.
There are quite a number of ways to tailor the XJ from the choice of two engines, two wheelbases, and a total of six trims. The model we tested was the XJL Portfolio AWD - the long wheelbase version mated with the 3.0L supercharged V6 engine. Unfortunately the XJ's all-wheel drive system is V6-only, so tough luck for snow-burdened Canadians hoping for a four-pawed V8 feline.
Jaguar's full-size luxury sedan doesn't receive any exterior upgrades for 2015 - it still looks nearly identical to when it was first unveiled in 2009. Keeping a straight face for six years is a long time in the auto industry. Like dog years compared to human years, it's starting to mature. Usually that's a bad thing, but I think the XJ has aged quite well. The Jag adorns a coupe-like profile and waterfall taillights that seem to never go out of style - maybe the front headlights could use a refresh. There are some similarities to its smaller XF brother at the front, but the XJ flexes with more arch and muscle. It has a wonderfully English presence.
I also admire how each Jaguar vehicle houses a different interior from the rest of the lineup. For example, the XJ will have a different steering wheel than the F-Type or the XF. It's a nice touch that distinguishes each model, something that can't be said about BMWs or Mercs - they all look nearly identical from the inside. I've also never been in a car with navy blue leather before. Like a tailored suit top matched with ivory pants - it's a striking and daring colour combination but Jaguar pulled it off really well. Of course with this long wheelbase XJ, all the attention is to the rear seats but let's talk about the driver's seat first.
You sit very low in the XJL, almost sports car low. The high shoulder lines, tall door panels, sloping roofline, and wrap-around dashboard overemphasize it and visually contribute to a mildly cramped cabin. Though it might feel tight and snug, the XJ's interior is far from claustrophobia-inducing. In fact, it's quite a feast for your senses. The seats can be heated, cooled, or massaged, the audio from the Meridian speakers is top-notch, and that fresh smell of leather never gets old. Of course, one of the most common complaints is going to be the lack of headroom and restricted rear view, but there are enough cameras around the vehicle and blind spot monitoring systems to keep you in check.
Familiar Jaguar touches include the hockey puck gear shifter, turbine-inspired air vents, and my favourite bit, the analog clock. Now you might be wondering why the clock is awkwardly angled downwards. In the driver's seat and from the way the concave glass is placed, it makes the clock hands look uneven. But it was actually designed so the rear passengers could view it perfectly. Sit in the back and it appears to be angled properly. Aha!
The long wheelbase version means this cat got a little aroused at the back, resulting in five extra inches of legroom. The XJL is a 5,252 mm-long hunk of aluminum - it's actually longer than the long wheelbase Range Rover we tested a few weeks ago. Doesn't look like it, does it? We owe that to the sleek roofline. Better yet, the semi-aniline seats are to die for and there's enough space back there for even Yao Ming to stretch his legs. It's a lot more airy than the front and takes advantage of the dual panel moonroof. Each rear passenger gets their own vanity mirror, side window sunshades, and thick carpets worthy of your naked bare feet. The C-pillar is also placed way back and aligned with the headrest for maximum window privacy. Our XJL didn't come with the Rear Seat Executive Packages, so we're sadly left without audio controls and adjustable rear seats, but there are still buttons for the vents and moonroof.
The 3.0-litre supercharged V6 at our disposal produces 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. These are numbers that won't wow you but it won't take away from your driving confidence either. Jaguar has also never heard of turbocharging. They cherish supercharging and I ain't one to argue with that. Even from inside the cabin you can hear fragments of that supercharger whine. The XJ delivers almost instant throttle response but the V6 engine is rather uninspiring. It suffers from a lack of theatre. Supercharged or not, the low-rev range is stale and most of the pull only comes past 3500 rpm. Only then will it flex its muscles. It's no V8 substitute I can assure you that, but opt for eight cylinders and you lose the option of having all-wheel drive.
On the bright side, fitting the Jag with AWD hasn't taken away from the excellent balance and steering response. Jaguar has tuned the AWD system to be rear-wheel biased. What that means is under normal driving, most of the power is delivered to the rear wheels and only transferred to the front wheels when required, up to 50% of it. We were unable to test the AWD traction in the wet or in the snow, so we can only take Jaguar's word for it. The XJL delivers a comfortable ride, one that's expected from a luxury sedan of this pedigree. It handles bumps and wavy roads smoothly, and it easily irons out the potholes.
The XJL was remarkably fuel efficient for a car its size. Jaguar's official numbers are 14.7 L/100km city, 9.6 L/100km highway, and 12.5 L/100km combined. Over the week we averaged 11.8 L/100km with a mix of both city and highway driving - we were pretty surprised. The body is made of lightweight aluminum but it still weighs more than your average male hippopotamus. We ultimately pinned it down to the smooth Start/Stop system and the 8-speed ZF automatic transmission that houses a broad spread of gear ratios catered towards fuel efficiency. Also a quick shoutout to our delicate right foot.
Having an XJL to drive for a week was a privilege. Every moment spent feeling like a chauffeur up front was matched by feeling like a king in the back. One of the best things about the Jaguar XJL is how it doesn't follow the typical German formula. The Jag is classy, elegant, and more of an indirect status statement than the in-your-face-I'm-rich approach given by the rivals. Look at it as your antidote to the ubiquitous 7-series and S-classes. It's just a shame you don't see many XJs roaming around the streets of Toronto. It's not in the rank of unicorns, but it's rare enough to deserve a double take. If your affinity is towards exclusivity, then the XJ is right up your alley.
型号 Model: 2015 Jaguar XJL Portfolio AWD
顏色 Paint Type: Dark Sapphire
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $96,490
試車售價 Price as Tested: $98,190
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 3,157
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,252 / 2,105 / 1,456
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,883
引擎 Engine: 3.0L Supercharged DOHC V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 340 hp @ 6,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 332 lb-ft @ 3,500 - 5,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed ZF automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Double wishbone, coil spring, stabilizer bar
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Multi-link, air springs, stabilizer bar
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Vented disc
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Vented disc
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 14.7 / 9.6 / 12.5
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Pirelli P Zero Nero - Front: 245/45R19 - Rear: 275/40R19