If asked to choose the best Jaguar XJ variant, the long wheelbase diesel model would certainly get Jonathan Crouch's vote.
Ten Second Review
The Jaguar XJ 3.0D long wheelbase is without doubt the pick of the XJ line up. Yes, the Supersport is the glamour version, but for most people the relaxed urge and keen economy of this diesel and the better ride, added legroom and sleeker looks of this long wheelbase chassis combine to form an unbeatable combination.
Waftability. It's a quality that manufacturers of luxury saloon cars strive for but often fall short of achieving. It's a ride so smooth it feels as if the road surface is made of polished onyx, with wind barely whispering across the bodywork as you approach three-figure speeds. It's a distant and muted engine note, it's having instant torque to hand to overtake and it's sitting in quite extravagant comfort inside.
Although it sounds fairly simple to engineer these characteristics into a typical big land barge, getting the details right will tax the resources of even the best engineers. It ties aerodynamics to ergonomics, and chassis engineering to the most nuanced aspects of power delivery. Most cars fall down in one of these areas. Then there's the Jaguar XJ which wafts with imperious assurance. The long wheelbase chassis improves ride quality still further and the diesel engine offers beautifully relaxed torque. It's a winning combination.
More performance, more refinement, more efficiency: this XJ's improved 3.0-litre V6 diesel features a host of extra technologies designed to boost output and reduce emissions. Now Euro 6 compliant, this engine develops 700Nm of torque and can accelerate the XJ from 0-60mph in just 5.9 seconds.
There's no problem with the way the 3.0 D delivers its power either. The all-important surge of pace is present as the car gains speed but what's most impressive is the refinement. The engine is barely audible at low speeds and there's only a slight grumble from the exhausts when you open it up fully. Wind and road noise are extremely well suppressed. The emphasis of the XJ is on comfort but it can hustle along and proves surprisingly nimble. The sharp electric steering is particularly helpful, making you forget you're piloting a five-metre luxury saloon.
The fully independent suspension is similar to that in the XF but drivers have the option of choosing standard, Dynamic or Winter settings via the JaguarDrive rotary knob that takes the place of a conventional gear lever. These modes adjust the suspension, throttle response, gearshift speeds, stability control settings and the active differential to produce the desired results. The gearbox itself is an electronically-controlled six-speed auto complete with wheel-mounted paddle shifters which sends drive to the rear wheels on all XJ models.
Design and Build
The sinewy lines of this lwb XJ only serve to emphasise its sporting intent. The front end borrows heavily from the XF, the sharply contoured bonnet and the wire mesh grille that juts forward from the plain of the headlights giving it real presence. As for the subtle styling refresh, well details include smarter full LED headlights which come with 'active front steer', 'static bend' and 'auto high beam assist' functions. The front end has received a larger, more upright grille, while sculpted chrome blades in the outboard air intakes aim to emphasise what Jaguar sees as the car's 'mature, prestigious character'. LED lights at the rear feature a more distinctive night time signature.
On the inside, the cabin is a fabulous place to spend time in. The craftsmanship is first class and the materials used for the switchgear and on the dash are of top quality. Improvements include updates to top 'Autobiography' trim - plush 'semi-aniline' leather and classy inlay veneers.
All variants get the latest 'InControl Touch Pro' premium infotainment system, this set-up allowing a de-cluttering of buttons on a central console now more pleasing to the eye. As before, the cabin's very spacious, as is the boot, at 520-litres in size.
Market and Model
This diesel version of the XJ in long wheelbase guise is offered in four levels of specification, kicking off with the Luxury, moving up to Premium Luxury and summiting at Portfolio and Autobiography. The entry-level Luxury specification will be quite enough for most, coming equipped with twin sunroofs, leather trim, dual-zone climate control, electric front seat adjustment and the touch-screen control interface. The trademark Jaguar drive selector and the controversial virtual instruments are also included on all models.
Even the entry-level cars come generously equipped with twin sunroofs, leather trim, dual-zone climate control, electric front seat adjustment and the touch-screen control interface. The trademark Jaguar drive selector and the less successful digital instruments are also included on all models.
Prices start at just under £62,000, which might steep for a luxury saloon with six-cylinder diesel power. Actually though, it's very competitive against the XJ's key German rivals, especially when the Jag's generous specification is factored in. The long wheelbase models come at a premium of around £3,000 over the standard cars.
Cost of Ownership
Let's face it, even with a modern diesel engine under the bonnet, the running costs of a top drawer luxury saloon aren't going to be small. The diesel engine does take the edge off the day to day outgoings though, returning a combined fuel figure of 47.9mpg which is astonishing for such a huge car. Even around town it will return 29.1mpg, which was a credible figure for a supermini not too long ago. Out on the open road, where the Jaguar feels most in its element, a careful right foot will be rewarded with regular 40mpg economy. Emissions are pegged at 155g/km, again a very good figure, if not quite up with the very best in class. Although the XJ is big, the aluminium construction helps keep weight down and this contributes to the very strong efficiency figures.
Residual values have held up very well indeed, with buyers soon getting over the shock of the XJ's radical design. Insurance is not going to be cheap though, the XJ 3.0D Portfolio model for example, being rated at Group 49 in long wheelbase guise.
Although a long wheelbase model might at first suggest you're more interested in being driven than driving yourself, the Jaguar XJ offers other advantages to buying the stretch body. For a start, the ride quality is better. To this eye, the shape works better in the longer car too, the extra length of roofline, giving the car a more elegant silhouette. Then there's the fact that even if you're driving, whoever is in the back has genuine First Class room to stretch out. It's a gift that keeps giving and with the premium on long wheelbase diesel cars only around £3,000, or around seven percent of the car's asking price, it seems money well spent.
As gorgeous as the supercharged 3.0-litre petrol cars are, they feel a rather guilty indulgence so the 3.0-litre diesel gets my vote as the pick of the range and you would certainly want one in long wheelbase guise. This might be the best car Jaguar makes at the moment, which given the talent spread across the range is saying a lot.