2012 Jaguar XJL | first drive

Posted on May 2, 2012 by

The folks at Jaguar are rather busy these days. Aiming at creating new brand identity, a new brand positioning and a new brand campaign, Jaguar is upbeat at reviving itself and with the all-new F-type scheduled for launch in 2013, things couldn’t get any better for the iconic British brand who at the moment seem to be on the rise since its takeover by the Indian auto giant, Tata Motors.

With a bid to popularise this brand transformation program, Jaguar’s marketing team has come up with a global campaign designed to capitalise on the emotional pull of Jaguar cars and challenges it’s consumers to answer: ‘How alive are you?’

To reflect the ethos of the campaign, Jaguar recently hosted a two-day event in Dubai aimed at challenging attendees on how alive they felt throughout the experience – particularly while driving the XJL. Some lucky participants were also given the opportunity to sky dive from 13,000 feet over Dubai.

This event turned out to be an ideal occasion to gather some first impressions of the new 3-litre V6 variant of the XJL that was introduced in 2011. Having driven the XJL Supersport with its 5-litre supercharged V8, the V6 instantly feels a bit slower and unresponsive in comparison. This engine makes 235bhp at 6800rpm and 293Nm of torque at a rather high 4100rpm. Overall fuel efficiency is close to its 5-litre sibling at 11.6 litres per 100 kilometres. The sprint from 0-100 takes a while at 8.3 seconds and even though the engine revs freely and the sounds sonorous, the car barely seemed to entice its occupants.

There is a sports mode that increases engine responsiveness and holds on to gears longer but that too fails to exude any sportiness. This engine is an upgraded version of the same 2.7-litre engine that was developed by Ford during its ownership of Jaguar and it allows the XJL to be priced very competitively at AED 289,000, expanding its reach to customers with a tight budget for a premium luxury sedan.

The Jaguar XJL has always been a rewarding car to look at. Pre 1994 models were not really a treat to look at but had a stately charm to them. However, the X300 variant introduced 1994 was the first handsome looking XJ that combined good looks with a classy interior. Technically it was similar to the car it replaced but it was a radical departure from its predecessor in terms of looks.

Similar turn of events took place in 2009 when Jaguar introduced the all-new XJ in London. Determined to revamp Jaguars styling and add modernity to Jaguar’s brand image, Design Director Ian Callum penned the lines for the best-looking XJ ever. It was futuristic, stylish and you could sense some feline inspiration with the way the headlights and the rear was designed.

I have never come across anyone who doesn’t appreciate the way Jaguar cars are designed. All Jaguar cars look well proportioned and beautiful. There won’t be a single day when you wont admire this car sitting in your driveway. The only issue is, I wish Jaguar had got it right with build quality and finish.

The car I drove had irregularities with the way the leather was glued to the dashboard and the stitching too didn’t seem to be consistent. Even though the quality of materials used is top notch, small issues like these can turn away a potential buyer and I think Jaguar should pay more attention to improving fit and finish, especially on its flagship models.

Another thing that’s instantly noticeable is the cars firm ride. Even though it was riding on 18-inch and not some super low-profile 19 or 20-inch tyres, the ride felt very stiff for a luxury saloon. Something here just didn’t feel right. With no option to adjust the suspension, it felt like the XJL was riding on suspensions meant for the sportier XKR-S.

Another thing that could have been better is the front legroom. The front row feels a bit cramped with the centre tunnel taking up a lot of real estate and leaving a modest amount of space for the foot wells. The rear however is a different story altogether. True to its L badge, this long wheelbase XJ has CEO impressing space at the back.

For those who like the XJ for its looks, there is simply no other car in its segment that comes close in terms of styling. However, like I mentioned, it doesn’t have the fit and finish of a German or a Japanese rival and that is a compromise you will have to make if you opt for this car. However, it will turn more heads when you drive it to your golf club or the next red carpet event.

Read our XJL Supersport road test here.

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