Road Test: 2012 Jaguar XJ 3.0

The Jaguar flagship model, the XJ, has a habit of being an undercover trendsetter. A generation past, the XJ was the first limousine to ever feature an all aluminum body. Unfortunately it's lower curb weight wasn't able to compensate for it's lack in power, or it's generally outdated feel as it struggled to steal any customers from the big German trio. The XJ has always looked the part, smelled the part, but has never offered a complete package of practicality, dependability, and driveability. As the luxury car segment became increasingly dominated by the always innovative S class and always perfect 7 series, Jaguar decided they needed to redesign the wheel if they were ever to become competitive. The Jag team then did something completely unprecedented. Instead of mimicking the competition, they redefined
 the luxury car segment by designing something
completely different. The result is uncanny.

Don't mess with this cat.
The numbers which are put down by it's most basic power plant are nothing short of staggering. The 3.0 V6D which I had the pleasure of spending the day in, somehow managed to propel the 1796 kilogram heavy luxury limo to 100 km/h in 6.0 seconds! It may be lighter than it's younger brother, the XF, but it's still not a light car by any means. Those kind of numbers make me wonder what on earth the people who specced the 500+bhp XJR thought of to justify their purchase. Any bigger engine in the XJ than the 275bhp V6 just isn't worth the money, nor the added pleasure from the 8-pot growl. It's that simple. And it's not just quick from knot to 60, it's a surprisingly fun car to toss in the turns, and accelerate out in. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if it wouldn't have been for the rear view mirror I could have sworn I had planted my behind in a much sportier XK. It's that good.

Interior is both retro and flash.
But enough about the engine, let's talk design. Jaguar took a massive leap of faith by ruining just about every traditional Jag owner's experience as they used a rocket ship to inspire it's design. Everything from the aggressive front fascia and the low sports car window line to the aggressive forward leaning body spell out animal. It's as aggressive and assertive on the outside as it's retro and luxurious on the inside. And not the leather wrapped comfortable kind of luxurious, this is nouveau riche, billionaire's club kind of luxurious. Everything is either blue, brown, chrome, or leather. The gear lever, if you can call it that, is a polished chrome dial with a grated aluminum side and looks straight out of the Mercedes SLS or Audi R8. It's badass and so is the velvet headliner. Sure it's poke your eyes out flashy, but it's an interesting, exhilarating place to be. The wealth of dials, lights, and textures is an inspiration for the senses. And the seats which will massage and ventilate you simultaneously will make any journey therapeutic instead of induce therapy. And last but not least there are the Bowers and Wilkins speakers, which for standard audio equipment, sure make the $12,000 optional Burmeister Porsche speakers seem like a cheat.

Jaguar XJ Rear Controls
Are there criticisms? Yes, but few. The provocative low riding roofline comes at a price. Headroom is inexistent, and that's really an inexcusable short coming in a brand's top of the line flagship model. If you have two small children to occasionally transport you buy a 911. If you enjoy going on a trip with 4 adults or occasionally being chauffeured around town, you choose the XJ. Except that you won't, since you're fully grown and you won't fit in the back. Speaking about the back, you'll also hate the rear design. Which is both lacking in design, and sense. It's like the designers had to sculpt a trunk around the luggage space requirements and bumper height safety regulations. Where has that elegant design of the previous era XJ gone? Where is the E-Type's razor sharp backside, with it's wide centered exhausts and it's squinty lights? I hate to be superficial, but it's so disturbingly proportioned in the rear, that it'll have people dashing out of the showroom. Forget all the time spent by all of the engineers, turning this car in to an absolute jewel. From 140 degrees of the car's 360 degree view, it's ghastly, and I'm sorry but that's enough to stop me from trading my hard earned dollars for one. You can only squint so much, and I'm afraid this car will only be sold to people with glasses not thick enough, and eccentric stylists who just cannot get enough of it's interior.

They almost had it. They almost pulled off the impossible and disrupted the German trio's luxury limo supremacy. Almost...