Test Drive

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This Cat is no Pussy

hf-jag_fall2In an industry that is constantly chasing the latest design and technological innovation, there is something to be said about staying the course.

By Helmut Dostal

It’s the best yet! Not unlike brands such as Porsche or the iconic Rolls-Royce—which have remained recognizable to even the least car-minded consumer through the decades—the Jaguar XJ has evolved as the brand’s flagship model since its beginnings in 2009, with distinctive styling and presence.

As befits the car of choice for the UK’s prime minister and royal family, Jaguar has carefully maintained a profile of quiet elegance and prestige. This is reflected in the classic exterior design, with a long hood and sweeping roofline. The powerful mesh grille and the adaptive LED lighting system with its signature “Double J” daytime running lamp complete the distinctive look of the XJ.

Technically, Jaguar has kept the development of the XJ product line completely up to date with the latest toys and features today’s buyers demand from a top-of-the-line luxury car. As expected, the XJ offers full connectivity to Apple and Android smartphones, and the vehicle’s eight-inch touchscreen works like an iPhone screen with pinch-and-swipe functions. With the InControl Remote App, drivers can remotely start the engine, set the cabin temperature, check fuel levels and lock and unlock the car. In addition, they can use a map on their smartphone to locate the vehicle. The XJ can also function as a Wi-Fi hotspot, providing a 3G connection for up to eight connected devices. Although I can’t quite see eight iPhone-wielding teens in the XJ!

The standard audio set-up in the XJ is an 825-watt, Meridian 17-hf-jag_fall3speaker surround sound system. For those, who don’t have time to make it to the Roy Thomson Hall for their Mozart concert, Jaguar will install a 1,300-watt, 26-speaker Meridian Trifield system that delivers 17 channels of surround sound. Does anyone want my concert tickets? I don’t think I need them.

My test car was the extended wheelbase XJL model, and I can attest to the amazing extra space the “L” stands for. When I found myself charged with the emergency collection of a built-in oven, I discovered that the trunk wasn’t big enough for the appliance—but the rear seat sure was. That said, I certainly don’t expect the average Jaguar owner to make a habit of transporting major appliances on their rear seat!

On the road, the Jaguar XJL reveals the same sophistication that the sleek exterior promises. Buyers can choose from two of the familiar, all-aluminum, high-performance, supercharged V6 and five-litre V8 engines producing 340 and 550 hp, respectively, both with an intelligent stop–start feature. The ride is smooth and the steering response is precise. In addition to all-wheel drive, the car comes with an interesting feature called All-Surface Progress Control  (ASPC), which will benefit Canadian drivers in particular as it helps when pulling this powerful car smoothly away from a standing start on low-friction surfaces such as ice, snow and wet tarmac. ASPC works like a low-speed cruise control and controls both the throttle and the brakes, providing just the right amount of power to each wheel.

hf-jag_fall5Other safety features that I find invaluable in heavy Toronto traffic are the adaptive cruise control and queue assist. The XJ’s long-range radar sensor maintains a predetermined safe distance from the vehicle in front, accelerating and braking all the way to a stand still if necessary. Along with a camera-operated traffic sign recognition function, which recognizes and displays signs such as speed limits and road warnings by comparing camera images with GPS data, the XJ driver is always well informed.

Considering the long evolution of the XJ brand, today’s result is a refined, well-equipped and beautiful car that is a pleasure to enjoy as a driver as much as a passenger.

Photos: Helmut Dostal

jaguar.com