Jaguar’s flagship saloon just turned fifty. Here’s how it celebrated its half century.
When you think of beautiful cars, an image of the Jaguar E-Type is sure to pop up in your head. First showcased at the Geneva Motor Salon in 1961, the E-Type not only mesmerised the media and visitors alike, but also managed to charm the great Enzo Ferrari. So much so that he called it the most beautiful car in the world! Not long after, Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons thought of building a saloon that was as beautiful and fun to drive. What started as an ‘eXperimental Jaguar’ – hence the ‘XJ’ nomenclature – has captivated audiences the world over for past half century, during which time 800,000 examples have been sold worldwide.
The Jaguar XJ first came into production in 1968, at which time it set new benchmarks in terms of refinement, comfort and luxury. And Jaguar upped the ante with every update of the XJ. And when it was finally launched in India at the 2010 Auto Expo, here too, it had everyone entranced.
Nine years later, Jaguar has given us this, the XJ50 – a special edition that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the luxury saloon. As you’d expect from an XJ, it comes with a truckload of creature comforts. And do we even need to point out that it’s still is one of the most elegant luxury sedans in the world?
This Jaguar XJ50 isn’t what you’d call a generation upgrade, which means it primarily retains the same design cues that we’re familiar with. That said, it does get a few cosmetic changes. The radiator grille now has a chrome surround, the bumpers have been mildly tweaked and there’s a new set of 19-inch alloy wheels. And since it’s a 50th-anniversary edition, XJ50 badges on the fenders and boot lid adorn its overall appeal.
And even though the XJ is more than eight years old in India, we still love the large grille, long bonnet, boomerang-shaped taillights and, above all, that suave silhouette. In short, this kitty continues to look stunning, even after all these years.
The inside of the XJ is every bit as luxurious as you’d expect. It has ivory soft grain perforated quilted leather seats, which are electrically adjustable and have heating, cooling and massage functions. Draped in black leather, the dashboard offers a bright contrast against the ivory of the seats, giving it a nice balance of sportiness and luxury – something that fits very well with the overall nature of the car. The gloss wooden accents also add an air of panache to the cabin. We also love the way it wraps around the bottom of the front windshield. And then there’s the XJ50 insignia on the dashboard, central armrest and door sills, which remind you of the car’s legacy.
The XJ50 also comes with two large screens at the front – the infotainment system and the instrument cluster. The central infotainment screen is a 10-inch touch unit. While we love the way it displays information and makes navigating the menu a hassle-free task, the touch could have been more responsive. However, there are physical buttons to make the job even easier, especially when you’re driving. The larger 12.3-inch LCD for the instrumentation offers a variety of information – navigation, infotainment, drive modes and more. It even changes colour based on your driving mode.
But a few niggles are now beginning to appear. For instance, the age of its 9-year-old platform becomes apparent when you get into the back seat. Despite being the longest car in its class, the space on offer is rather limited. When you recline the seat, the base moves forward and upwards instead of changing the angle of the seat back. While there’s no dearth of knee room, there isn’t enough space for your feet under the front seats.
On the positive side, the rear seat, too, has heating, cooling and massage functions. Passengers at the back also get dedicated infotainment screens and headphones. While in terms of luxury and features, the XJ50 has pretty much everything covered, you can’t shake the feeling that it lacks the flair of its German rivals.
Swift & Agile
The XJ50 is on sale with only one engine option – thankfully, it’s a zestful 3.0-litre, V6 diesel. At 302bhp and 689Nm, it makes marginally more power and noticeably more torque than its rivals. The XJ is the longest car in the segment and still the lightest, thanks to the extensive use of aluminium in the chassis. This allows it to sprint from 0 to 100km/h in just 6.2 seconds.
Some may feel that the 161bhp/ton power-to-weight ratio of the XJ50 is just about adequate, but the oodles of torque that the car makes is more than sufficient to add enthusiasm and excitement to the driving experience. The XJ does fall behind in terms of refinement though – it just doesn’t feel as smooth as its rivals. The diesel clatter that seeps into the cabin is not something that you expect from a car in this class. However, someone who takes the wheel occasionally may happily live with it, given its brilliant handling capabilities.
At a time when electric steering systems are attenuating the pleasure of driving, Jaguar seems to have their steering setup in perfect tune. It’s communicative and has just the right weight for both city and highway duties. Around bends, the length of the car does come into the play, but at no point does the XJ feel unsettled – thanks in no small part to the wide Pirelli P Zero tyres. The XJ has coil springs up front and air suspension at the back. The damping at the rear can be altered using the drive modes – Winter mode is the softest, while Dynamic is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Some thuds from larger potholes do creep into the cabin, and the Jag doesn’t feel as supple as its rivals, but it’s a trade-off you’d willingly make for unmatched handling.
Cat’s out of the bag
In comparison to its rivals, there’s nothing that the XJ50 doesn’t do. However, its German rivals do have a slight edge in terms of indulgence. For instance, the BMW gets a ‘Display’ key with its own touchscreen and the Mercedes has active body control and those cloud-like rear seats.
But that doesn’t mean that the XJ doesn’t have things working in its favour. Even after all these years, this flagship Jag looks absolutely stunning. Add to that the punchy diesel motor, and what you get is a luxury sedan that’s as much fun to drive as it is opulent. And with a price of `1.11 crore, it even manages to undercut its rivals by at least a million bucks. The Jaguar XJ50, then, is definitely a great choice – even though it is greying around the edges.
The Jaguar XJ has clearly evolved in design, comfort and luxury. But it has always retained its fun to drive nature.
- JAGUAR XJ50
Engine: 2,993cc / V6 / Twin-Turbo
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic / Rear Wheel Drive
Power: 302bhp @ 4,000rpm
Torque: 689Nm @ 1,800rpm
Price: ₹ 1.11 crore (Ex-showroom)
X-Factor: What the Jag lacks in indulgence, it more than makes up for in terms of driving pleasure.