The Goodwood Test: Jaguar XJ R-Sport

30th January 2017
erin_baker_headshot.jpg Erin Baker

Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces.



The XJ is Jaguar’s flagship saloon. While the current XJ looks and feels like a cutting-edge luxury executive car, the XJ badge is not a new nomenclature, having been around since 1968. Just 10 years ago, the XJ was a fusty, dusty Jag of old – despite an aluminium frame and air suspension, it looked and felt old-fashioned. Then in 2010, Ian Callum got his pencil out and drew a new one, and finally, this badge had looks to match the contemporary technology. That was the first generation; now we have a comprehensive facelift before a new XJ makes its appearance in a couple of years. We’ve tested the 3.0-litre V6 diesel short-wheelbase model, which will take the majority of sales, in R-Sport trim.



This updated XJ looks the part: the design has been sharpened at both ends of the car with narrower headlights, tightly creased aluminium bodywork (only Audi still follows the same, expensive process in this class, with the A8) and a sloping, coupe-style roofline: the blacked out C-pillars mean that the roof, in the same paint colour as the body, seems to float above the car at the back. The saloon maintains its aggressive, low-slung, dynamic stance that has tempted buyers fed up with staid German executive offerings.

Inside, the cabin is a noticeable departure from BMWs and Audis, with more fussy detailing than the austere German pair. The Jaguar design team has taste, however, and the materials and finish are both exactly what one would wish for from a British manufacturer: not overtly flamboyant, but with pleasing, stylish detail, such as the boat-style glossy plastic lip that runs above the leather-clad fascia, enveloping the cabin. The air vents remain smart chromed binnacles, the automatic gear knob is still the rotating one used throughout both Jaguar and Land Rover models and you feel like you’re sitting in something about special.

Given this car’s £70,000 price, the technology is a step above that of the F-Pace: the new satnav system can be zoomed in and out of simply by pinching the touchscreen, and the right-hand circle in the digital dashboard transforms to show data for whichever application you’re using at the time – phone, satnav or multimedia.



The 3.0-litre V6 engine develops just shy of 300bhp and 516b ft of torque; both figures should be plenty, yet for the majority of our test drive, the car felt sluggish. Eventually, it gave up entirely, and a blocked fuel filter was diagnosed and speedily fixed by Jaguar Assistance. After that, the XJ was as good as I remembered it when I drove the previous model: light on its feet, pin-sharp in its responses and dynamically elegant. Its 0-60mph time of 5.9 seconds felt accurate, and that eight-speed auto transmission is still impressively quick and smooth in its shifts: I never felt the need to pull on the flappy paddles. As for the rear air suspension… sublime stuff.



You can’t fault a BMW 5-Series or 7-Series, or an Audi A6 or A8, or a Mercedes E-class or S-class: of course not, they’re all excellent, supremely competent, stylish cars. And yet… how wonderful to buy British, not because you’re the sort of person who has a Union Flag aloft in their front garden and concrete bulldogs by the gate posts, but because it’s the car you want. Because it’s a little different, a little racy, with a sumptuous, decorative jewel of an interior. Because the rear air suspension makes it waft down the road, while that Jaguar steering keeps the front wheels on their toes. It’s a brilliant blend of luxury comfort and effortless performance from a brand with racing pedigree running hot through its metallic veins. Pretty perfect.

Price: £72,510

  • Jaguar

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