One of the finest flagships in the British empire now comes with one of the tiniest motors to hoist the Tata Union Jack here. But the 2-litre XJ saloon still flies the flag with pride, because it has the turbo power to do so – 240bhp and 340Nm, put through an 8-speed sequential-shift automatic. It also has the ability to sail the seven seas (or highways), with the century sprint completed in 7.5 seconds.
The average towkay will take much longer to find out that this Jag is one litre down on the smallest-engined Audi A8 and BMW 730Li. After all, the XJ 2.0 still stretches over 5m in length and sits on a 3m-plus wheelbase with 19-inch wheels. And its styling is remarkably “Beckham” – the lean muscle of David combined with the feline curves of Victoria. Keeping to the no-fat diet, too, is the XJ’s aluminium construction, which enables the car to weigh the same (1.6 tonnes) as the 2-litre XF, a smaller saloon with less generous on-board equipment.
Inside the spacious XJ cabin, the wood décor is charming and the leather seats are relaxing. Behind the wheel, the driver will be delighted by the combination of old-fashioned design flair and high-tech features (such as digital virtual instruments, an 8-inch multi-function touchscreen and helpful driving/parking aids).
However, certain interior parts feel strangely old for a brand new limo. The backseat’s centre compartment lid, for example, “crashes” when opened/closed, while most of the dashboard switches and both the steering-column stalks feel less solid than those in an Audi A4, let alone an A8.
On the go, this classy pussycat doesn’t purr like a 6-pot kitten, but the turbocharged 2-litre 4-cylinder pulls as smoothly as the gearbox pushes gears. The Jag’s step-off from a standstill is a little lethargic, but it starts moving energetically once the engine has a few thousand revs on the tacho. Maintaining momentum in this machine is almost as easy as stroking a cougar cub.
Even though the XJ rides less plushly than the S-Class, steers less sharply than the 7 Series and grips less tightly than the A8, it plays the limo role convincingly and has more character than any of the German giants.
The small-town towkay with big-city ambitions (and over $300,000 to spare) can adopt this “small” black cat with confidence.
ENGINE 1999cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged
MAX POWER 240bhp at 5500rpm
MAX TORQUE 340Nm at 2000-4000rpm
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic
with manual select
0-100KM/H 7.5 seconds
TOP SPEED 241km/h
CONSUMPTION 11.8km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 199g/km
PRICE INCL. COE
$315,000 (no CEVS rebate/surcharge)