2010 Jaguar XJ and XJL Review

By Jonathan Spira on 17 October 2010
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Quick Cat

The new Jaguar XJ and XJL challenge the notion of what a traditional British luxury car should be.  While they maintain many of the traditional Jaguar styling cues, such as the wire grille, they have a post-modern coupe-like roofline that extends over the boot, ahem trunk.

Indeed, very little has changed in Jaguar design over the past quarter century or so – until now.  Thanks to Ian Callum, Jaguar’s head designer, and his team, the XJ has been completely reinterpreted for the twenty-first century, although it still pays homage to Sir William Lyons’ original XJ of 1968.  Indeed, that’s pretty much what Callum says in a video released by Jaguar discussing the car.

Inside, the unique dashboard, which is two inches below the base of the windshield, a space filled by elegant leather and burled wood that further extends to the doors, adds to a feeling of airiness (perhaps propelled by the flawlessly-stitched leather and burled wood) that is then further accentuated by the standard roof, which has two sunroofs, both functional.  The headliner, pillars, and visors are clad in an elegant suede-like material that begs one to rub it.  The air vents recall another British legend, Rolls-Royce.

Jaguar uses a 12.3” high-resolution display for its instrument cluster instead of traditional analog gauges.  This means that the speedometer and tachometer are virtual (as is the fuel gauge) and also somewhat customizable.  While this is good in theory, it doesn’t quite work as well in practice as some of the needles seem to hesitate as opposed to climbing or falling fluidly.  But not everything is digital.  The analog clock in the center stack would have been a nice touch had it been more easily readable (that’s the purpose of the clock, so that the driver can quickly tell what time it is, right?).

The central display is still a touchscreen although it is larger and somewhat improved over earlier versions.  It’s important to keep in mind that more and more automakers are moving away from touchscreens (most recently Lexus, with an interestingly awkward joystick) and that touchscreens contribute far more to driver distraction than a cockpit controller-based system such as BMW’s iDrive.

Speaking of iDrive, the center console does have its very own round controller knob but in a Jag, this is for the gear selector and it slowly rises from the console when the car is turned on.

Pairing my BlackBerry Touch to the Jag was a breeze; I was pleased to see that the car supports streaming audio over Bluetooth in addition to phone capabilities.  My phone’s contacts all appeared in the car’s system although the sequence of key presses (or touches) to select a letter of the alphabet and a name is somewhat cumbersome.

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