Jaguar XJ: A fresh interpretation

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When the XF concept car first appeared, almost everyone was blown away by the balance and beauty of Jaguar's latest design. Then, with the production model came disappointment – which was almost entirely down to the headlamps. What had happened to the beautiful headlamps in the big cat's design study? The headlamps in the CXF were perfectly formed – so why did we lose them? Was it output power, illumination or some other reason? Later, a completely different explanation occurred to me.

The CXF was just designed to give the public a taste for the final production design. This was the first look at the new shape; it showed what was feasible. In any case, the said lights have now been fitted to the new production XJ. And they look damn good. The front has the aggressive look of a real big cat, a similarity which boosts the marque's image and strengthens brand recognition. And, whilst the front has turned out pretty much according to expectations (after the XF), the rear is a completely new interpretation and has nothing in common with its little brother. The stretched profile is more fastback than coupé. The rear styling is both extravagant and elegant. Vertical light clusters flow upwards, hinting at the line of the rear window, and pillars. A very pleasing design – but not for everybody. Good design should polarise opinion, and the XJ certainly does that. Particularly as the radical break from the style of its predecessors makes the step to the new XJ seem even bigger.

Inside you'll find everything you'd expect in a car of this class: displays that replace analogue instrumentation , polished surfaces and masses of wood veneer. The drive selector in the broad central console is a modified version of that found on the XF. Everything gleams expensively under indirect mood lighting. The finish conveys first-class quality, just as it should in a car like this. The new XJ is a worthy alternative to the established top-flight players. And you don't even have to be much of an individualist.