Words: Robert Nichols
Photography: Robert Nichols
Published: May 25, 2016
Jaguar has always done things a bit differently and continues to injecting some charisma into the high-end luxury market. I spent a week in the lap of British luxury, piloting Jaguar’s flagship XJL sedan. At its core, the present iteration has been on the market for some six years now, yet it somehow manages to look fresh and is by far the sexiest of the executive sedans. I am staggered that we do not see more of them around. By virtue of the limited number that are on the roads, the XJ offers one very important feature sought after by the 1%: exclusivity.
The XJL competes at a rarified level of opulence against the long-time rulers of this market: the German Three. But what is it that makes people look grudgingly upon drivers of an S-Class or 7 Series? I am not inferring that these cars are not amazing in every way, I am just pointing to the difference in the public’s perception of the people who own them. As these difficult economic times continue, German luxury-sedans will likely be sneered at because the people glaring in disgust have just been downsized by some executive. Want to hazard a guess as to what they drove?
Not the Jag though. It’s true when you are at the wheel of one you gain an immediate sense of superiority, but somehow that doesn’t seem to translate to the general public. They just see a sexy, sophisticated work of art. For the 2016 refresh, the XJ has received a few minor alterations that include full LED headlights with ‘J’ shaped daytime running lights, and a modestly redesigned grille that is more upright and has a new mesh pattern. Beyond that, not much has changed visually. It is still long, lean and impressive. One thing is for certain: it will stand out at the country club (in a good way, of course).
Inside the sumptuous cabin Jaguar has done a bit more work and added some extra technology to entice would-be buyers away from the competition. The model I was in was a Portfolio AWD. The Portfolio features a unique diamond sewn pattern on what may be the softest leather seats I have ever experienced. You sink ever so slightly into the 14-way adjustable seats that can not only warm you up and cool you off, but they will also massage you. All four outer seating positions are heated and cooled and can massage if optioned correctly. If you are not driving it makes no difference at all where you sit in the long-wheel base model. Legroom is abundant and the only slight flaw is that the sloping roofline cuts into rear seat headroom.
The interior really is something to behold. It is not that there is some remarkable new technology or outlandish layout; rather it is the level of fit and finish. The materials are above and beyond, the burled walnut trim is not my thing but it is lavish and adds a little extra Englishness to the whole affair. The shape of the dash itself sets the Jag apart because there are no flat areas, no pointless and confusing tiers and an utter lack of conflicting materials to tire the eye. This is how an executive class interior should be done. Sunlight can be an issue when it catches the chrome change cup lid at just the right angle blinding the driver, but all you need do is open it.
Jaguar has introduced a new infotainment interface for 2016. It is supposed to simplify the interaction between man and machine. It is accessed by means of an 8-inch touchscreen with a configurable home screen, clear graphics and easy to learn layout. There are also a few real buttons to be found, which is my preference. It is nice to have the option to control things directly without having to plough through a sub-menu. The interactive voice command system even has the perfect English accent, just as it should.
For all of its loveliness there was one feature that had me stumped. Residing in the trunk, below the carpeted floor sits the spare wheel. This in and of itself is not uncommon, quite the opposite in fact; but what perplexed me was the bright orange colour of the rim. Who thought that was in anyway acceptable? Is it not embarrassing enough that your Jag has a thorn in its paw that you need ad the further indignity of drawing attention to it? Personally I like a full size spare, but those are rarely found today, but if you must make us use one of those ridiculous donuts please make them as discreet as possible, one has an image to maintain.
The XJ is available with two powertrain options in Canada. The one tested here is the 3.0-litre Supercharged V6 which makes 340 hp. Given the size of the vehicle this could seem a bit slow but thanks to the all-aluminum body and structure, this lightweight feline really moves. The word nimble is apt.
I was impressed at the pace this car can cover a backroad. It claws its way through corners effortlessly and pulls away from a bend with ferocity, especially when the transmission is in Sport with Dynamic mode activated. The 8-speed transmission shifts flawlessly through its range and never draws attention to itself, preferring to remain anonymous. Even manually shifting via the paddles does not result in any abruptness. The ride is smooth and balanced, but not what you might expect from a Jag. Jags of old had a way of totally isolating their occupants from the road surface, but not this one it protects you from the harshest of hits but you are aware that the roadway is less than perfect. The AWD models do not use electronic steering, and that means you gain a real feel for the road surface and how the tires are reacting to your inputs.
A Supercharged 5.0-litre V8 is optional. In the XJR model this beast of an engine punches out 550 hp and a rather dirty sound. In the V8 XJ and XJL models this same engine is limited to 470 hp. The AWD system has a rear wheel drive bias but is in no way design to enhance the performance feel. It is there to assist with in climate weather.
As far as driver’s aids go the Jag can be fully complemented. Some of the highlights include traffic sign recognition and display; surround view camera on all models and park assist on models with RWD. Then you can add adaptive cruise, navigation, WiFi hotspot and 3G connection for up to 8 devices. One very cool ability of the InControl infotainment system is how it can memorize your usual route to and from work, even offering suggestions on quicker ways should there be traffic delays.
For those who plan on carting children a long distance there is the option of installing 10.2” hideaway screens. These can be used in conjunction with a number of personal devices to play videos or games through one of the two USB ports or the single HDMI port.
If you find yourself in the high-end luxury market, the Jaguar XJL certainly deserves a closer look. It offers all of the frills the Germans do, but adds a light-on-its-feet driving feel that is unmatched in a car this size. The lavish interior and stylish aluminum body are dripping with class. There really is nothing quite like the XJL: comfort, style and power are all in its wheelhouse.
型号 Model: 2016 Jaguar XJL Portfolio AWD
顏色 Paint Type: Ammonite Grey
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $99,000
試車售價 Price as Tested: $109,375
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,725
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,255 / 1,899 / 1,460
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,885
引擎 Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged 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