When our family house was renovated, it was my desire to have the grain cellar converted into a modern study. The dark, ageless wood paneling that enclosed the cold, heartless flooring would now be transformed into polished wooden trims to offset audiophile speakers, glistening gadgetry and classy leather furniture. Ghosts of illustrious ancestors would still reside quietly in their chipping ledges and chinks. The superstitious science of architecture eventually kept that desire unfulfilled but my childhood profiling of aristocratic elegance as the sight of a Jaguar XJ8 remained largely unfazed with the Jaguar XJL 2013 Portfolio edition.
UPSIDE: New engine choices, New 8-speed transmission, Improved fuel efficiency, Impressive cabin silence and dynamic driver assistance
FLIPSIDE: Compromised visibility, Narrow boot opening, Executive rear comfort better in some rivals
THE PRICE: Starting from AED 259,000 for the 2.0T engine, AED 289,000 for the 3.0L SC and AED 599,000 for the 5.0 L SC Super Sport. Our test car, the 5.0 L Supercharged V8 Portfolio edition is at AED 479,000.
My test car was powered by the 5.0 litre supercharged V8 engine of the JLR family. Mated to the eight-speed ZF tranny, the Jaguar XJL doesn’t suffer from any obtrusive intervention from the car’s electrodynamics keeping it a naturally pleasurable car to drive.
While the 470 hp and 575 Nm of torque sounds and feels powerful, the Jaguar XJL seems to have sacrificed the sound dynamics for the comfort dynamics. I could hardly hear the engine for most part of the ride, but then, it’s only a matter of stroking it a little to fully awaken the purring Jaguar. And switching the rotary dial to the sport mode meant that I had an earful of its menacing growl, for as long as I wanted.
Likewise, while the power is perpetually generous, you can actually feel it take charge as the car crosses the 3000 rpm cycle. But there were also occasional signals of a slight unevenness in its distribution.
The 18-inch wheels that my XJ rode on suits the car well. But the Jaguar XJL is a little difficult to maneuver in tight and sticky spots, especially parking ramps. It is a long car, and it pays to watch out. The XJL is more comfortable in sweeping curves than sharp flyovers, where there is a tendency to over-steer.
Any slackness in handling is made up with the overall agility of the car and the powerful engine response of the JLR supercharged monster mill. The 0-100 came up in 6.08 secs, which I admit could be even quicker. I chose to resort to what I call a “Gentlemen’s Shove” for when pushed too sharply, the car does have an urge to go its own way. But the excellent traction and the electronic stabilization controls do their job so well that you hardly feel it.
At 5247mm, the Jaguar XJL is arguably the longest in the category, and its crouching design makes it one of the most elegant. The Jaguar XJL truly acts the part of the big brother of the XF in spirit and in looks, with the formidable deep-set mesh grille, much like a muscle car. The two prominent claw marks on the middle of the hood, the character lines that join the grilles above the headlamps, and the narrow headlamps themselves, have the sharpness of the Jag caught in spirit and design.
If elegance can be a disadvantage, it is evidenced in the ascending window design and rear glass with its inexplicably turned up shelf that makes for poor visibility, as well as in the sloping roofline that takes away from an otherwise large boot space.
Cabin and Controls
The Jaguar cabin still retains its aura of luxury with the carefully chosen leathers with their monotone beige that complimented my car’s black exteriors. The ‘curvilicious’ design and the wooden paneling that wraps the frontiers of the cabin, give it a sort of yacht-like feel. The Jaguar interior pleases by the sense of touch – right from the suede used on the A-pillars and the headlining, to the very classic presence of the wood and veneer to the cabin lights operated by a mere touch. The steering also feels smooth and soothing to the grip. Those large uncut wood panels housing the Meridien speakers and the signature propeller-shaped air vents that feed the four-zone climate control add finishing touches to the classy ambience.
There is a lot that the Jaguar flagship shares with its regal SUV sibling. The dual screen that allows the passenger to watch TV while the driver sticks to the navigation screen is one of them. The heavenly music that rolls out of its 825 watt Meridien system is another. The JLR signature rotary dial for the gear selector and the navigation screen dynamics are also common between the all new Range Rover and the Jaguar XJL.
The car understates its frills, just as to be expected in a car for those who’ve seen it all, and hides its efficient electronics behind a non-intrusive control layout. The cruise distance control and the steering heater buttons are nicely stowed away below the cruise control switch, while the paddle shifts are subtly concealed. The console area is elegant with minimalism because most of the operations are handled between the two wide screens, the driver-friendly 8-inch HD touch screen at the centre and the flexible one on the drivers screen. The Voice Command option makes everything a breeze – right from dictating navigation commands to choosing your favourite radio frequency. On the contrary, the excellent air-conditioning mechanism was a bit layered in the control system. The highpoint of the new cabin tech is the digital convenience on the driver’s screen that allows you to switch the tachometer with an information gauge and also keep track of the navigation on the left dial – there’s something new to admire in a Jaguar or Range Rover every time I drive it!
Yet nothing is perfect – not even a Jaguar XJL. Amidst the feeling of surrounding luxury, a slight downsizing was felt in some of the plastics used, like the doorknobs, touch buttons of the console or the seat adjustment lever as well. And quirkily enough, there was no hand-grip for the front passengers! The seats aren’t as bolstered as one would expect but the 20-way controls manage to provide supple comfort for the driver. The low positioning of the seats adds more privacy but takes away slightly from the visibility, together with the long, sweeping window lines – making the blind spot monitors an essential rather than an extra!
In a class where comfort is almost defined by legroom, the executive seating of the Jaguar XJL affords plenty but the boot opening was mean and measly, unlike the boot space itself.
Instead of a DVD screen at the back, there was a tray for meals on the go. Sort of makes sense, for the car has minimal body roll and you can comfortably have your executive lunch on the way. The rear seats are adjustable and the armrest has storage and cup holders but it doesn’t, like the Lexus, provide the option of commanding the cabin from the rear seats.
The Essential Jaguar XJL
The Jaguar XJL 5.0L V8 Portfolio edition has the trappings of an executive luxury sedan with imposing looks, an inspiring cabin and a drive with its share of thrills and frills. New to the line up is a 2.0L turbo engine as well as a 3.0 L supercharged powerplant. The start up XJ itself offers 240 bhp of power and 340 Nm of torque, and crosses the 100km mark on the speed gauge in a respectable 7.9 sec while the latter engine achieves the same in less than 6 sec. The XJ claims a top spot among luxury sedans, with a handling that can be termed just shy of exhilarating. Read about the handling skills of BMW 7-series. But then, there is perhaps no other in the category that combines looks, efficiency and practicable price options as well as the Jaguar XJ does.
Drive courtesy: Al Tayer Motors
Pictures: Sudeep Koshy, Supplied by Jaguar