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Sorry James, I’m Doing The Driving - It’s The 2014 Jaguar XJ

The DriveWrite Archives Topics:  Jaguar XJ

Sorry James, I’m Doing The Driving - It’s The 2014 Jaguar XJ

Geoff Maxted
January 25, 2014

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Love is a fickle thing. Last year I swore to be true to the Jaguar XFR-S (here) but my head was slightly turned by the XFR (here); a performance car that can truly be used every day. That’s how things have continued until one day last week when this 2014 Jaguar XJ Premium Luxury SWB turned up.

The XJ is Jaguar’s flagship saloon. It is beautifully made, has a massive boot, is sumptuously comfortable and is very handsome to look at. This is the car for your chauffeur to whisk you across country in style. That’s if he ever got the opportunity to drive it of course because, you see, although it has all the appearance of a limousine it is fact a real driver’s car.

To compete with the German flagship models Jaguar have clearly decided that the 2014 XJ should be a completely different kind of luxury car, with lively style and a light, lean driving character. With contemporary styling the XJ has a drop-dead gorgeous roofline flowing into a sail-away rear pillar and culminating in a subtle lip on the boot-lid.

The XJ comes with a comprehensive range of engines starting with a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol, plus a supercharged V6 petrol and 5.0-litre V8 petrol variants. (DriveWrite tried the LWB V8 Supersport version here) and the 3.0L V6 diesel featured on this car. With 275PS and a mighty 443lb/ft of torque the diesel engine - with barely a hint of lag - whisks the car to 62mph in just six seconds and on to a limited 155 in pretty short order and, unlike its more feisty siblings, it does it in a calm and quiet atmosphere through the perfect ratios of the eight-speed sequential shift gearbox. As with all turbo-diesels the torque comes in with a mighty whoosh and is gone by 4,000rpm requiring a quick burst of gearshifts in manual to maintain progress. With the unobtrusive Intelligent Stop/Start fitted Jaguar reckon 44.3 miles per gallon is on the cards. I didn’t see that but in mixed driving we achieved almost 40mpg; pretty good for a car of this size. Emissions are a creditably low 167g/km.

DriveWrite found it supremely easy to accidentally and unknowingly exceed the legal limit. Speed simply rushes up to you like an excited puppy. Such is the hushed and cosseted driving environment you don't notice the rapid progress. Fortunately, there's a neat touch - in a car with many neat touches - the digital dials highlight the numbers either side of the actual speed and engine revolutions making quick readout sighting a doddle.

So what does £60,000 (£66k here with options) buy? Well, you get Mrs DriveWrite's seal of approval. You also get leather as standard on the Premium Luxury model, plus heated screen, rain-sensing wipers and parking sensors. The 2014 XJ’s luxurious feel is underlined by the palette of materials used on the interior. This includes Bond grain, soft grain and semi-aniline leather, and a wide choice of veneers including Piano Black, Carbon Fibre, Gloss Burr Walnut and Satin Rosewood. This model featured the striking piano-black trim which, IMHO, is preferable to the wood.

The Meridian sound system was truly impressive (mostly surround-sound Hendriks but with a hint of Andrea Bocelli for Mrs DriveWrite) and the steering wheel has all the controls needed for the sound system, your phone, your iPod and cruise control. The Sat-Nav is brilliant and a joy to use. I even prefer it to my latest top-of-the-range Garmin. You can programme routes and waypoints with ease. The voice featured was a bit Irene Adler but the instructions were clear and concise and, usefully, the driver gets an additional eye-line route snapshot in the instrument panel when a manoeuvre (roundabouts etc) is called for.

The seats offer a 12x12-way range of adjustment on this model with memory and are heated front and back. Climate control can be individually adjusted and if additional light and air is needed than both front and back occupants have their own sunroof - a great feature. It’s a big car to park but the parking sensors and reverse camera do a fine job of avoiding the surrounding cars and vegetation.

On the road, the car feels planted. The steering is light (perhaps too light for some as is the trend these days) but weights up with speed. I like it. Braking is firm and linear with no surprises although the ABS can be a bit previous. Regular Drive mode is fine, but Sport mode does seem to make a slight difference. Throttle response appears sharper, and individual gears are held longer before up-shifts. The transmission will also downshift into a lower gear when slowing, thereby keeping engine rpm higher. Dynamic mode sharpens up the whole car and is best used with manual control via the paddle-shifts for total driver control. Not what you‘d expect from a limo.

If fact, that’s the key to the Jaguar XJ. If you want to waft around on plush springs but don’t give a fig for performance then you may choose to look elsewhere. However, if you are a driver who demands luxury yet still has a sense of fun then I can’t recommend this car highly enough. A treat.

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