Jaguar XJ R-Sport first drive

Jaguar XJ R-Sport

Jaguar XJ R-Sport





The all aluminium four door saloon with standard and long wheelbase options is the chauffeur driven luxury car of choice for UK politicians and business executives,

plus a smattering of well off celebrities and well-healed private buyers. It compete against the new BMW 7-Series and the existing, but soon to be replaced, Audi A8 as well as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The XJ range is manufactured at Jaguar Land Rover’s Castle Bromwich Plant alongside the all-new XF saloon and F-Type sports car.

The current generation XJ was introduced in 2009 and from that time it has spawned the use of aluminium for bodyshell and suspension component construction. It has also provided the latest Jaguar visual identity and used for the new XE and XF saloons. This provides a consistent family appearance much the same as the Audi, BMW and Mercedes brands. Now for 2016 the XJ gains what JLR calls “a mid-cycle refresh.”

New Jaguar XJ prices start at £58,690 but with a wide range of models, engine choices and two wheelbase lengths prices go up to £100,000. The 2016 range consists of Luxury, Premium Luxury, Portfolio, XJR-Sport, XJR and Autobiography. The powertrain range consists of 300hp 3.0-litre V6 diesel automatic, the 340hp 3.0-litre V6 petrol automatic, the 510 and 550hp 5.0-litre V8 supercharged petrol automatic. The main selling 3.0-litre 300hp diesel unit has been uprated with 700Nm of torque and CO2 emissions have been reduced by 6% to 149g/km so VED road tax is £145 every year and company exec drivers will pay 27% Benefit-in-Kind tax.

Other technical changes include fuel and CO2 saving electronic instead of hydraulic power steering and all surface Progress Control which adjust torque delivery on low friction surfaces such as ice or snow.

Visual changes for the new XJ include a larger and more upright grille and sculpted chrome blades in the outboard air intakes all emphasising the car’s mature but still sporting character.

The full LED headlights accentuate the ‘quad lamp’ design feature that Jaguar sporting saloons have made their own. They are further enhanced with active front steer and static bend lamp functions and auto high beam assist. LED headlights also provide a colour temperature closer to that of daylight than Bi-Xenon lamps, improving visibility and driver comfort, and are also more energy-efficient. Twin ‘J-Blade’ daytime running lights are a unique feature to XJ, befitting its status in the Jaguar saloon car range. The white light instantly and seamlessly changes to orange when the direction indicator is operated.

The LED rear lights feature a new J-signature tail and position light graphic, making the XJ even more distinctive. The rear bumper now features a glossy black valance and a slender chrome insert. New LED taillights and oval exhaust finishers complete the look.

The XJ’s highly rated interior design has been taken to the next level. So luxurious has it become that the outgoing Portfolio trim is now used for the Premium Luxury model. The new Portfolio gains quilted soft-grain leather seats with diamond stitching and embossed headrests, and figured ebony veneer.

The Autobiography model, new to XJ in the 2016 model year and available only with the long-wheelbase body, can be identified on the outside by chrome front bumper air intakes and 20-inch Maroa wheels. Inside there’s a unique Autobiography Intaglio quilted semi-aniline leather seats with contrasting stitching, a leather headliner, rich oak inlay veneer, and illuminated stainless steel treadplates, air vents and boot finisher. Rear seat occupancy is provided by two individual seats with seat back movement and massage function and a rear seat entertainment system with two folding 10.2-inch HD screens. Standard fit on the XJ is Jaguar’s new InControl Touch Pro touchscreen infotainment system which offers door to door navigation, it remembers the user’s favourite routes, it resembles the speed and functions of a PC or Tablet computer, it has seamless iOS and Android connectivity, Wi-Fi hotspot and a 26-speaker 1,300W Meridian Digital Reference audio system. Although standard for the XJ this new system is an option for other Jaguar models priced from £1,200 to £2,560 depending on the model and the specification level.

Jaguar XJ R-SportJaguar XJ R-SportFollowing other Jaguar models, the XJ gains an R-Sport model with new side sills, three-piece front splitter, side power vents and a rear spoiler. A gloss black finish enhances the grille mesh, rear valance and the window finishers. Wheels are 20-inch Mataivia. The interior gains sports seats, R-Sport steering wheel and treadplates, Jet headliner and piano black trim or carbon fibre. The new R-Sport specification is expected to become the most popular choice with UK customers.

Catching up with the competition the latest XJ now has a new set of driver assistance functions including lane keep-assist, adaptive cruise control with queue-assist, rear traffic detection, closing vehicle sensing, 360-degree camera system and semi-automated bay and parallel parking assist.

Enough of the luxury spec details and it was time to get behind the wheel of the likely best selling version, the 3.0-litre V6, 300hp turbodiesel with its standard fit eight-speed automatic transmission with the new and thought to be best selling R-Sport spec level and with the standard length four door body. This version weighs in at £70,975.

In its new EU6 emissions form power and torque have gone up from 275hp and 600Nm to 300hp and 700Nm and emissions are down from 159g/km to 149g/km. In the case of my test car with larger 20-inch wheels the figure was 155g/km which means a VED road tax cost of £180 each year. Company car drivers will pay 29% in Benefit-in-Kind tax. Although the engine is more fuel and CO2 efficient outright performance has not been squeezed with a restricted 155mph top speed and the zero to 60mph acceleration figure is 5.9-seconds.

Officially the Combined Cycle fuel economy is 48mpg and during my brief test driving session using the busy roads in the Thames Valley and the winding country roads of The Chilterns the real-life figure was 38.8mpg.

Although a diesel unit there is only the slightest hint of engine noise inside the cabin and the huge torque propels this large saloon along with the utmost ease. The engine response is huge thanks to the high torque and the ZF torque converter auto gearbox provides seamless changes up and down the ratios in its normal Drive setting and if needed move to Sport and the response is sharper but hardly needed.

The new electronic power steering is not short of response and driver feedback and it compensates well for road camber changes and poorer road surfaces. Ride comfort is luxurious although the suspension doesn’t iron out all potholes which plague our roads.

Speed, comfortable ride in a plush environment all wrapped up in an elegant sports saloon body shape, it all looks very good. That said in the standard length body the leg room for rear seat passengers is not that generous, it’s not cramped – just not that ample but it is in the long wheelbase body. The headroom for both versions inside the rear section is good but the headroom is limited getting in and out of the rear seats. A mere mention by me but a potentially important consideration for the all important business chauffeuring clients who are being targeted by Jaguar and their latest XJ offering.

It would have been rude not to sample the most powerful XJ version, the XJR 5.0-litre, V8 supercharged petrol unit which delivers 550hp and 680Nm of torque. With its standard wheelbase configuration it costs £91,755 and comes with uprated suspension, adaptive dynamics and active differential control plus some XJR styling tweaks to differentiate it from other lesser models.

This is one for owner drivers, not business chauffeurs, but affluent drivers who enjoy driving – fast at times but want something that is accommodating for more speed restricted occasions such as driving in towns. The top speed is a relatively modest 174mph in this sector and zero to 60mph takes 4.4-seconds. It might not be the outright fastest in the luxury saloon supercar league but it is the most sophisticated in terms of providing power and comfort. Officially this version will return 25.5mpg in the Combined Cycle and my test driving returned better than that at 28.2mph which tells you that the roads were busy and hard driving opportunities severely limited. For the record the CO2 emissions are 264g/km so VED costs are in the top band at £1,100 for the First Year rate and then £505 thereafter. Company car execs will pay 37% Benefit-in-Kind tax. Only around 5% of XJ customers in the UK will go the 5.0-litre petrol engine route.

Combining financial investment from the Indian TATA conglomerate with JLR’s Britishness, the future now looks hot and spicy.

MILESTONES: Jaguar XJ R-Sport 3.0 V6 SWB 4-door executive saloon, (expected best selling model). Price: £70,975. Engine/transmission: 3.0-litre, V6 turbodiesel, 300hp, 700Nm of torque from 2,000rpm, 8-speed ZF auto gearbox. Performance: 155mph (restricted), 0-60 5.9-seconds, Combined Cycle 48mpg (38.8mpg on test). Dimensions: L 5,130mm, W 1,899mm H 1,460mm, boot 520-litres. Insurance group: 48E. Warranty: 3-years/unlimited mileage. For: Refined executive travel, comfortable, high specification, distinctive Jaguar sports saloon family styling, responsive and refined engine so it’s nice to drive. Against: Tight headroom through the rear doors, SWB versions short on rear legroom in the sector. Miles Better News Agency

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