A flagship Jaguar is always going to be something very special and the 2016 XJ L is just that – an opulent, comfortable, speedy and beautifully built automobile from one of the world’s most prestigious luxury car builders.
It’s the biggest car Jaguar builds and these days, it’s as big as anything out there, especially in length. Care must thus be taken in parking it, though there are all kinds of electronic aids to help you get the job done without a worry. Big it may be, but out on the highway, it’s as nimble as a sports car and very easy to drive. In fact, it’s all too easy to take it above the speed limit without realizing so careful checks on the speedometer (not to mention the rearview mirror) should be part of every trip.
My XJ L test car had all-wheel drive, an option that only comes with the V-6, not the available V-8. Still, the V-6 performs much like a V-8 anyway and few owners will complain. It’ll top 100 km/h in 6.4-seconds, which is very sporty territory.
As a styling exercise, the XJ is every inch a Jaguar, except, perhaps, at the tail end where it takes on a very high-design look with an especially bold treatment for the rear lighting. The front is more “trad Jag” with a mesh grille and a Jaguar-head badge located on it. The bodywork is unusually low and sleek for a large sedan in this class and out on the road, you won’t mistake it for anything else.
The cockpit and cabin is the usual feast for the eyes you get with one of the famed British maker’s cars. There’s beautifully polished wood in all kinds of places, but not as is usual, around the instruments. The seats on my car had beautifully quilted centre panels and the leather is of a very fine quality. No brochure will ever mention this, but as soon as you get in the car you have a wonderful whiff of top-quality leather, which is almost worth the price of admission. The rear seat area is huge and the rear doors very wide, so this is a car many owners will use a chauffeur for. There’s also a rear control panel for entertainment and climate control and all the rear window glass has powered blinds so the fortunate owner can sit back there out of the view of passing crowds.
Dynamically, the car has it all. The 3.0-litre V-6 has 340-horsepower and is mated to a smooth and almost seamless 8-speed automatic transmission. I took a long run out into the Fraser Valley and was happy with the car’s performance on fast freeways, winding lanes and on city streets. It’s docile, quiet, and exceptionally comfortable but has power and braking that’s there for the asking if you feel like pressing on a little briskly. Incidentally, the bodywork is fabricated from aluminum, which is said to handle road noise better than steel.
As might be expected, the XJ L has every imaginable electronic convenience and a long list of safety features to help out if trouble strikes. The navigation system is nicely intuitive and it’s very easy to connect a mobile phone for hands-free operation. The sound system was very impressive and was equipped with no less than 14 speakers.
Although I’m a “small car guy” I found the big Jag a lot of fun to drive and can well imagine that business people with the job of picking up important clients at the airport now and again will love the roominess in the back. I guess a car that’s good enough for the British prime minister to regularly use should be fine for the rest of us. His XJ features armour plate and bulletproof glass, which hopefully, nobody will need just yet in Canada!
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Four-door large luxury sedan
ENGINE: 3.0-litre supercharged V-6
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in approx. 6.4-secs
FUEL ECONOMY: 13.2-litres/100 km city; 8.1-litres/100 km highway
PRICE: Base XJ around $100,000 MSRP