The 2010 Jaguar XJ sedan is on its way to the U.S., seven years after the current, traditionally styled XJ first brought its radical aluminum-aerospace body and stuffy styling to market. Since then, Jaguar's been sold by Ford to India's Tata, but progress continues, particularly with this new range-topping sedan. Available in short- and long-wheelbase form, the 2010 XJ will be offered with three V-8 powertrains and four models (XJ, XJL, Supercharged and SuperSport) and likely will span a price range from $65,000 to more than $100,000 when it goes on sale early next year.
There's not much to prepare the unprepared for the 2010 XJ's new avant-garde silhouette. The 2004 XJ bore a striking resemblance to, of all things, a Buick LeSabre. The new version's part Aston Rapide, part Jaguar XF, with some kinky details highlighting (or spoiling) its drawn-long shape. All the upright lines are discarded for a low, sleek roofline; fenders swell along curvaceous lines like the 2007 XK coupe and convertible and vertical taillamps get LED lighting. It's a bold reimagination of the XJ--a clever one too, since the car sits on an identical wheelbase and is only marginally longer and wider. Three details stand out: the D-pillar that's blacked out to create a floating-roof look jars the shape, disturbing its elegance more than enhancing it. Maybe if it's eventually stripped bare and polished smooth down to its aluminum, it'll fit. The second detail is a massive glass sunroof that opens the XJ cabin to light. Inside, Jaguar promises all that transparency gives the transformed interior a modern, informed look. From photos it's easy to agree: the bubbled-up air vents, the pop-up transmission controller and wide bands of wood on the doors and dash distill the swinging-British look to near perfection. A leather headliner, upgraded leather seats and laser-inlaid wood trim and new custom trim options will bring the opulence factor to new levels, Jaguar says. Finally, a new dash panel without traditional dials uses a large high-definition screen to display all the usual gauge functions, while also changing colors subtly to indicate performance driving modes with a soft red glow.
Three engines, a single transmission and an independent suspension are the core of the 2010 Jaguar XJ's performance package. The engines are all derived from the new 5.0-liter V-8 also found in the 2010 Jaguar XF. There's a base version with 385 horsepower in the XJ and XJL; a supercharged version with 470 horsepower in either body style; and a special 510-horsepower V-8 for SuperSport editions. With the sole transmission, a paddle-shifted six-speed automatic, the 2010 XJ will run from 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds in base form, and in 4.7 seconds as a SuperSport. Dynamics are handled by an independent suspension outfitted with air springs, electronic controls to constantly vary ride firmness, and an electronically controlled rear differential. To fine-tune these settings, JaguarDrive Control allows owners to choose Normal, Dynamic and Winter settings to adjust throttle, steering, transmission and ride quality.
With aluminum body panels bonded and riveted to an aluminum space frame, the 2010 Jaguar XJ is substantially lighter than the competition--though with new features, the difference is diminished with the new XJ. The 3800-pound to 4300-pound XJ has roughly the same interior space as before; long-wheelbase versions have 5 inches more rear legroom. Jaguar says the 18.4-cubic-foot trunk is the biggest in its class, and has a power-closing decklid. Thicker glass and a stouter body should damp out noise even more than before, though Jaguar's tuned the air intake for what it calls an "inspiring engine soundtrack." Wood, leather and chrome trim is fitted to all versions, with SuperSport XJs piling on more luxe trim.
Safety performance should be excellent, as with the current Jaguar XJ. The new car also sports six airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction and safety control, as before. The new XJ's stability control loosens its apron strings a bit when the car's Dynamic mode is chosen.
Among the standard features in the new 2010 XJ are the big panorama sunroof; an AM/FM/CD/DVD/MP3/HD/Sirius audio system; USB connectivity and Bluetooth stereo audio; a navigation system with voice control; and automatic climate control. The most impressive option--aside from custom trim options for the interior--likely will be the 1200-watt Bowers & Wilkins audiophile system.
The Bottom Line:
The 2010 Jaguar XJ severs the cord to its traditional past for an intriguing new shape--and possibly a new lease on life.