2011 Jaguar XJ Portfolio | road test

Posted on Dec 22, 2010 by

The XJ continues the look established by the XK and XF

AT A GLANCE

FOR

  • Feeling of class and quality
  • Balance of performance and comfort
  • Crammed with tech

AGAINST

  • Cheap plastic gear paddles
  • Interior metal gets very hot
  • Fiddly sat nav/entertainment system

SUMMARY

Jag’s new large sedan is extremely good and a great halo for a brand rich in luxury but with a sporting heritage. We like almost everything about this supercharged Portfolio edition, save for a couple of touches that feel a bit cheap. Overall though it has performance, comfort and style in a premium package and we rate it very highly.

The XJ is powered by the same engine found in other Jaguars and Land Rovers, and it's a treat

PERFORMANCE

The 5.0-litre supercharged V8 is the same that sees service through Jaguar and Land Rover’s ranges. We’ve enthused about its quality before and nothing changes here – with 470bhp it’s a beautiful bit of kit with power, smoothness and class. Acceleration is rapid but never savage or violent, merely high-speed wafting when cruising or overtaking.

The gearbox is similarly good and is operated by the now-trademark metal dial on the centre console. We can’t really imagine why you’d want to use the manual mode – despite its dynamic prowess, the XJ is a cruiser at heart and the automatic mode is seamless enough for us. We’re also disappointed by the paddle shifters behind the wheel – they’re made of a cheap, flimsy feeling plastic and with the quality elsewhere they should really be metal.

We reckon the XJ strikes a good balance between sporty and comfortable

HANDLING AND RIDE

The XJ is not just designed for drivers, it’s a machine in which to carry people and be carried, so the ride is soft and supple. Handling however is very nippy and communicative for a car of this size and type, with a very sporty and responsive feel when pushed. You can also slide the back end if you want, such is the power through the back wheels, especially when engaging the Dynamic mode. It’s spirited and full of character, not just a big wallowy barge. You can have fun driving the XJ, while resting assured that your passengers will be comfortable.

COMFORT

As befits the character of the XJ, comfort levels are good all round, although our test car gave us some cause for concern as the massage function in the seat appeared to have gone wrong and clunked annoyingly when cornering. Assuming that’s a mere unfortunate blip however, we felt cosseted and relaxed on a couple of long journeys. There’s loads of space for driver and passengers and the interior design is beautiful, with wood panelling running around the cabin and some B&W speakers that don’t just sound good, they look great too with their distinctive yellow cones. The air vents at the side and in the middle are really stylised, almost art-like and leather abounds.

The interior is beautifully design and reeks of quality. Except for the paddle shifters, which feel cheap and plasticky

One not of caution – the amount of metal in the car, particularly the dial for changing gear, gets really hot in the Arabian sun, which is something to keep in mind if you’re likely to park outside for any length of time.

PRACTICALITY

The XJ we tried was the long-wheelbase version, which comes with huge amounts of space in the back for passengers.

Storage-wise, there’s space under the centre armrest for CDs and two very good cupholders that keep cans and the like very snugly in place. The glovebox is a decent size, if not massive, and there are reasonable door pockets in the front.

The boot is suitably large at 520 litres and has a powered tailgate for ease of access.

Plenty of space in the back

FEATURES

There’s loads of technology in the XJ. The most striking, and our favourite, is the digital dashboard which consists solely of a screen with no analogue instruments. It looks fantastic. We were concerned that with sunglasses on or with the sun shining directly on it, visibility would be a problem, but we found it crisp and clear at all times. It’s a great representation of the usual array of dials, but being virtual it means Jaguar can be creative – warning messages can replace dials temporarily, option menus scroll up and down. Select the Dynamic mode and it turns the dials red. Very cool and it gets us excited about future possibilities and customisation.

The virtual dials are very cool

Other features include adaptive cruise control and a rear view camera for ease of parking. The blind spot warning system is very useful but the touchscreen sat nav system seemed a bit unresponsive and laborious to use. Jumping between navigation, audio and other settings would be better using a button rather than a digital menu system. A feature we really like on the screen though is that a passenger can watch a DVD while the driver sees the sat nav display on the same screen. The future has arrived!

SAFETY

As well as an aluminium body construction that Jaguar claim is safer than steel in a crash, the XJ comes as standard with front, side and curtain airbags. ABS and Emergency Brake Assist are also included, as is a tyre pressure monitoring system and electronic stability control with traction control.

No crash test information was available at the time of writing.

The XJ stacks up well against its competitors

COSTS

At 459,000 Portfolio model we tested is towards the upper end of the XJ range, which starts at 349,000 for the non-supercharged model. In comparison, the new Audi A8L starts at 358,000AED – a price that will doubtlessly rise according to options selected. The Audi comes with a 4.2-litre V8 engine with only 372bhp, but a snarling 6.0-litre W12 will be available in 2011.

BMW’s 750Li, with a 402bhp, 4.4-litre V8, costs 455,000, which makes the XJ seem well priced with its style and extra power.

Jaguar claims a combined fuel economy of 12.1 litres per 100km, giving it a theoretical range of around 680km from its 82-litre fuel tank.

Jaguar offers a three-year, 125,000km warranty on the XJ. Servicing is due every 8,000km and will cost from around 1,500 AED to 2,300 AED at the time of writing.

2011

Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8
Max power (bhp/rpm): 470/6,000-6,500
Max torque (Nm/rpm): 575/2,500-5,500
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Driven wheels: Rear-wheel drive
Kerb weight: 1,915kg
Price (AED): 459,000

Post Review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *