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First Oz drive: Jaguar’s big cat now on the prowl
XJ flagship sedan arrives with hot performance and new look to rev Jaguar’s image
13 Jul 2010
JAGUAR’S new XJ sedan has landed Down Under with a fresh look, blistering performance and higher pricing than originally announced last year.
The flagship Jaguar sedan has been conservatively tasked with selling just 120 vehicles a year – well below the volumes of the XJ in its heyday of the 1960s and 1970s.
But Jaguar Australia hopes the XJ will boost the whole Jaguar brand in Australia with its halo, building on the aura produced by the smaller XF that arrived last year.
Jaguar design chief Ian Callum’s bold – some might say controversial design – eschews the conventional lines of its predecessor, featuring a sweeping, teardrop profile with almost coupe-like style. Its shape suggests hatchback, but under the boot lid is a huge 520 litre space.
At the other end, four engine choices start with a 202kW/600Nm 3.0-litre turbo diesel and continue with three versions of the third-generation AJ petrol 5.0-litre V8 – a normally-aspirated producing 283kW, and two supercharged versions, producing 346kW and 375kW.
The latter is the performance champion, sprinting from zero to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds, outpacing all but the 6.0-litre V12 versions of the Benz S-class and BMW 760Li (both 4.6 seconds).
Naturally, the diesel carries the big Jaguar’s green credentials with a combined fuel economy rating of 7.0 litres per 100km. This betters both the Mercedes S350 CDI (7.7L/100km) and BMW 730d (7.2L/100km).
The XJ oil-burner’s claimed 0-100km/h acceleration is also impressive for a 3.0-litre diesel limo, at 6.4 seconds, compared with the diesel Mercedes’ 7.3 and BMW’s 7.2.
All Jaguar XJ models share a ZF connect-by-wire six-speed auto transmission, with steering column paddles for manual-style cog-swapping. The driver can override the automatic transmission at any point or flick the transmission controller in S mode for Sport which allows for manual shifting and will not change up before the driver is ready.
The traditional automatic transmission selector has been replaced by a chrome JaguarDrive rotary selector that pops from the centre console.
The XJ makes extensive use of aluminium, magnesium and high tensile steel to keep the weight down to just 1755kg for the lightest model – undercutting the lightest BMW 7Series by almost 100kg and the lightest Benz S-class by 55kg.
A faster steering rack from the smaller XF model sharpens on road response, as does a selectable ‘dynamic mode’ that instantly sharpens the throttle response, increases the weight of the steering system and firms up the damping.
Available in three trim levels – Premium Luxury, Portfolio and Supersports – the XJ range comes in standard wheelbase or a 125mm-stretched long-wheelbase model for a more specious rear compartment, along with more expansive rear doors for easier entry and exit.
The V6D opens the pricing at $198,800 in short-wheelbase Premium Luxury form, with the longer version costing an extra $8000 but $5000 more than was announced by Jaguar Australia in September last year.
These XJ diesel prices are right on top of the BMW 730d but some $16,000 more affordable than the Benz diesel S-class.
The lowest-priced petrol V8s start at $251,000 and $259,000 for the standard and long-wheelbase cars respectively. This makes the XJ Jaguars around $23,000 and $32,000 cheaper than their natural BMW competitors, the twin-turbo V8 750i and 750iL.
The S-class Mercedes V8 models are almost $43,000 (500S) and $53,000 (500L) more expensive than the V8 Jaguar XJs.
Jaguar Australia has positioned two standard-wheelbase Portfolio mio-range models up against the Porsche Panamera ($275,000) and the Maserati Quattroporte ($286,000). Equipped with either the 5.0-litre naturally-aspirated V8 or supercharged V8, these models meet those competitors on equal ground.
The entry-level Premium Luxury models include all the goodies you expect – navigation, premium sound, leather, proper wood and grunt.
The Supersports versions – due in August – gain Aniline leather seats, leather headlining, leather trim on upper fascia, purple flock-lined glovebox, interior mood lighting and supercharged performance.
All models share a hi-tech 12.3-inch TFT high-definition display for the instruments. Instead of traditional gauges, information is presented digitally in three rings.
There is also an innovative dual-view eight-inch touch-screen that can project DVD movies or television programs to the passenger, while the driver views vehicle functions or follows satellite navigation.
Audio purists can opt for a 1200w audio system developed exclusively for the range by Bowers & Wilkins.
Other advanced infotainment features include hard-drive-based audio and navigation systems and comprehensive connectivity for portable audio and video devices via the powerful media hub.
Jaguar Australia general manager Kevin Goult said the high levels of trim and equipment in the XJ Supersports models would help Jaguar span the luxury performance market.
“If that frustrates our competitors, then that’s okay,” he said. “It’s all about meeting new prospects and building our market share.” Mr Goult said the XJ’s halo effect could help to boost the whole Jaguar model range.
Jaguar is holding a “good number of firm orders” for the new car after a series of pre-launch events.
The company has been buoyed by the overseas success of the car. In the UK in June the XJ outsold both the BMW 7 and Mercedes S350, with 60 per cent of buyers new to the brand. US Jaguar executives say the UK experience is being replicated there.
Mr Goult said XJ could help to build total Jaguar sales to more than 1000 units a year.
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