2012 Jaguar XJ and XJL – Review

By Jonathan Spira on 16 June 2012
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We last looked at the Jaguar XJ family almost two years ago and I was thinking about Jaguar’s origins in the U.S. while watching a recent episode of Mad Men, where the partners of Sterling, Cooper compete for the newcomer’s business.

To those who follow the show, saying that the ad agency wooed Jaguar would be an understatement but the winning pitch was the slogan “Jaguar. At least, something beautiful you can truly own.”

To me, Jaguar has always been an emotional connection, whether it was the classic E-Type (featured in Mad Men as well) or the latest XJ sedan.

The first XJ was introduced in 1968 and came to epitomize the traditional British luxury car.   Several generations followed closely in the footsteps of Sir William Lyons’ original XJ but the new XJ, introduced in 2009, while it has many of the traditional Jaguar styling cues, such as the wire grille, challenges the notion of what a traditional British luxury car should be.  The post-modern coupe-like roofline that extends past the trunk is just a hint of what one will find.


Inside, our XJL Portfolio (the XJL is the long-wheelbase version of the XJ), the notion is challenged as well.  The dashboard starts roughly two inches below the windshield and that space is filled with burled wood and leather that extends to the doors, lending a feeling of airiness, something that is reinforced by twin sunroofs overhead.

Beautiful materials abound.  The headliner, pillars, and visors are clad in an elegant suede-like material that begs one to touch it – repeatedly.

The use of such elegant materials doesn’t mean that this Jag doesn’t have the latest technology installed.  Instead of analog gauges in the instrument cluster, Jaguar has installed a 12.3” high-res display there and the virtual speedometer, tachometer, and information displays are somewhat customizable as a result.  The clock is still analog and found in the center stack.

I’ve slowly gotten used to the Jaguar touchscreen central display although I keep hoping that the automaker will adopt a pointer of some kind (even Lexus has moved away from touchscreens at this point).  Touchscreens are great on a smartphone or tablet but require too much attention when you are barreling down a highway and trying to get your finger in exactly the right spot.

To drive away, you have to remember that the round controller in the center console is the gear selector.  It majestically rises from the console when the car is turned on.

One of my favorite things about the current XJ are the seats.  Jaguar engineers clearly spent hours sitting in them to make sure that they are suitable for long drives.  Overall, I found the interior quite roomy although a few passengers commented on the rather large transmission tunnel.

In the rear, despite the coupe-like roof line, there is plenty of interior room and getting in and out of the back is a non-issue.

Another beautiful aspect of the Jag, something not available in the 1960s of course, is the 20-speaker, 1200-watt Bowers & Wilkins stereo.  It’s nothing short of magnificent and provides true concert hall sound (well, as true as one can find in an automobile).

The Jag’s media hub had no trouble connecting to my iPod touch and my 4G smartphone (via Bluetooth for streaming audio) and it also can store 30 GB of music on its own.   My phone’s contacts all appeared but Jaguar needs to streamline the sequence of keystrokes required to get to a specific name.

Click here to continue to Page 2Driving the Jag and Bottom Line

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