We square off the sensational and striking Jaguar XJ against the most well engineered luxury car on the market, the BMW 7 series.
One of the few things wrong with our otherwise mostly right profession are the early morning photography sessions – especially in the Delhi winters, where, not only is there a very limited window of opportunity for the art team to photograph the cars to their satisfaction, but the weather too just adds to the gloom. And, as luck would have it, here I was – on a cold winter morning, waking up, grumbling to myself at 6am about having to step out when I could still be lying nuzzled in my bed, especially because it was a Sunday.
So, the start of the day wasn’t ideal, but, grudgingly, I stepped out of the house and noticed that not only was it cold but foggy too! Well, there went the photography schedule, and hence my hopes of getting back early and getting some more shuteye. Silently cursing my luck, I picked up my colleague and on we went to pick up our cars for the shoot.
However, once we got the cars, it wasn’t all doom and gloom – there was indeed a silver lining to the day after all. You see, one can’t help but smile when the cars one has to drive and review are luxury barges like the Jaguar XJL and the BMW 730Ld. You see, eventually it sinks in that one is not driving and photographing just any cars, but two of the nicest luxury sedans available in the market today. And, as if on cue, right about when our mood was improving at the thought of enjoying time with these cars, the sun came out too!
Coming to the cars in question, as any passerby’s darting gaze will tell you, one of the most desirable luxury sedans available in today’s market is the Jaguar XJL. Ever since the first generation of the car was launched back in 1968, the XJ has remained the flagship saloon of the Jaguar range and has been the vehicle of choice for the swish set. One of the traits of the car remained its evolutionary styling, which was carried down right from the original, designed in 1968, during the time of Sir William Lyons himself. And while this meant that traditional Jaguar customers loved the XJ, it alienated the newer and younger set of customers who viewed the car as an old man’s car. Realising this, Jaguar decided to finally take the plunge and the new-gen XJ was launched with brave new design language, which many purists view as an affront to their beloved Jag.
But, to be honest, given the staid image Jaguar had before their latest range of products, such a drastic redesign was a necessity – not only to protect its position in the market, but, and perhaps more importantly, to appeal to a younger audience. In many ways, what Jaguar needed to do was similar to what Bentley did about a decade ago – a complete revival that allowed it to appeal to a much wider customer base too.
The redesign of the XJ is not just cosmetic though. It carries over the ethos of the older car, but out go the traditional wood-and-leather interiors to be replaced by a brand new design, which crucially maintains the lineage of Jags of old – but with a modern twist. So, the leather covered dashboard and interiors remain, but the wood is available in more modern finishes as well as with options such as cabonfibre. The scattered button placement of interior controls has been done away with, and in comes a state-of-the-art touchscreen central display to handle the usual audio, seat ventilation, and other controls – and even the instrument cluster is now fully digital to make sure that Jaguar not only catches up to the latest technology, but surpasses it!
Similarly, the XJ boasts of full-aluminum construction – thereby allowing the car to be around 200 kilograms lighter than its competitors, and this weight saving reveals itself in the form of the 100km/h mark coming up in a mere 6.4 seconds. Even while driving, the lightness is evident with the car even eager to turn in and never feeling overtly heavy or ponderous. The ride, however, remains a mixed affair with good comfort and confident high-speed ride, but at low speeds the suspension can transfer a few jolts – especially when equipped with the optional larger alloy wheels.
The other contender in the test is the BMW 730 Ld, which has long been one of our favourite cars in the segment and has, till date, offered one of the best driving experiences amongst the competition. So, does the XJ – with its new design language and new standards of ‘Jaguarness,’ which include enhanced driving appeal – have enough to topple the 7-Series from the top spot?
Traditionally, the 7-Series has always been known to be the car of choice for people who like to step into the drivers chair of their own luxury car on occasion, in addition to merely being chauffeured around most of the time. Needless to say, the BMW has always been brilliant from behind the wheel, but the current generation has also raised the bar a few notches when it comes to luxury and standard equipment. The interiors are terrifically finished and laid out – with the design being relatively simple and uncluttered. What it lacks, though, is the XJ’s flamboyance – where the Jaguar has theatrics such as the rising gear knob and jet engine-like chrome AC vents that shoot air at you, the 7 offers a much simpler layout with things that just fall easily to hand. Depending on your outlook, you could call it comfortable or you could term it as being boring.
On the outside as well, the 7 doesn’t appear as special or striking as the XJ. But, then again, this could well be because the BMW is a victim of its own success – having sold well for the past two years, this generation of the 7 has become a far more common sight on our roads than the Jag. What it nevertheless offers, though, is a supremely well balanced chassis and a superb 3.0 liter diesel engine that never feels like it’s a diesel – pulling this nearly two-tonne machine to 100km/h in just 7.3 seconds. And while it may not be as quick in the sprint to 100km/h as the XJ, the dynamics of the 7 are such that it seems to shrink around the driver and feels like a much smaller car, which makes stepping behind the wheel truly an enjoyable experience. It really does feel as though every part of the 7 series has been engineered to near perfection.
So, how do they square off against each other? Well, the Jaguar clearly has more presence. The large chrome mesh in the front and the claw-like tail lights in the rear ensure that the Jag shouts out its presence. The interiors too are unique and well made, but in places it can seem a tad overdone and chintzy. And the looks, while striking, do tend to polarize opinion – especially with the blacked out C-pillar, which can stand out quite awkwardly against lighter colours. Imposing yes, pretty no!
The 7, on the other hand, looks almost like an ordinary car when compared to the XJ – but, make no mistake, it too is a good looking car. Sure, it might be pretty popular already, but if one isn’t looking to make an overt statement, it makes for a great car.
So, in the end, it boils down to whether you value presence and style versus driving appeal and relative anonymity. For me, personally, I prefer cars that tend not to stand out – but, then again, for a customer spending nearly a crore or so of their own money, presence and style may matter more for them, in which case the XJ is a no-brainer. For those looking at a beautifully engineered machine that could potentially stay beneath the radar, the 7 is the way to go.
|Jaguar XJL 3.0 Diesel||BMW 730Ld|
|Engine||Engine 2,993cc / 6 Cylinders / 24 valves / Common Rail Direct Injection / Twin Turbocharged||2,993cc / 6 Cylinders / 24 valves / Common Rail Direct Injection / Turbocharged|
|Transmission||6 speed automatic / Rear Wheel Drive||6 speed automatic / Rear Wheel Drive|
|Power||271bhp @ 4000||241bhp @ 4000|
|Torque||599Nm @ 2000||540Nm @ 1750|
|Price||Rs.84 Lakhs (Ex-showroom)||Rs.84.50 Lakhs (Ex-showroom)|