Jaguar calls this the 2014 XJ, but take a long look at it and you won’t find any telltale visual differences from the earlier car. Not that the long, sleek and very distinctive XJ needed any help in the looks department. Where the XJ did need a revision was to its price, and that’s the main highlight of the 2014 model. It costs a whopping Rs 20 lakh less than before. The start of local assembly at JLR’s facility in Pune is responsible for this very welcome change in price, and now the Jaguar XJ, for long among the costliest of the 3.0-litre diesel full-size luxury cars, has become the most affordable. The Premium Luxury trim costs Rs 92.1 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai) and the Portfolio trim we’ve tested here still ducks under the one-crore mark, at Rs 98.69 lakh.
Before you ask, these are not low-spec ‘Corporate Edition’ cars. Quite to the contrary, both XJs are fully loaded, and in fact get some additional equipment compared to before. Fully adjustable rear seats with heating, cooling and a massage functions, dual sunroofs, satellite navigation, rear seat entertainment screens and Meridian audio systems are now standard on both versions. But for the Rs 6.5 lakh over the Premium Luxury model, the Portfolio does get a more powerful sound system (825W versus 380W), larger screens in the back (10.2-inch versus 8-inch), cornering headlamps and larger, 19-inch wheels. The Portfolio also features new fold-out tray tables for rear seat passengers that are large and sturdy enough to hold a laptop.
But, as before, the rear seat experience is a bit of a mixed bag. Legroom and headroom are good, no doubt, but its rivals offer a little bit more. In truth, the sharply rising window line just makes it feel less spacious than it actually is. That said, seat comfort is really good with great all round support and near perfect cushioning. The massage function also works well to ease the stress after a full day’s work. The front seats, adjustable in every which way, including the bolstering, are really nice too.
Jaguar hasn’t altered the basic layout of the cabin, so the XJ carries on with its really sporty looking dashboard that beautifully wraps itself around the front seats. Quality of materials is good, but in a few places, you’ll find the odd cheap-feeling bit, like the steering adjustment knob, which is straight out of a Ford. For the most part, however, this isn’t an issue. What is more apparent an issue, however, is the relatively low-resolution graphics for the touchscreen that controls the infotainment system. It simply looks out of place in a car of this price, and feels a bit dated now. The TFT screen that makes up the speedo and tacho dials could do with an update as well.
As for the driving experience, the Jag remains perhaps the most involving of the luxury limos, although it lacks the ultimate chassis balance of a 7-series. The steering is accurate, if a bit light at high speeds, and on the whole, the car feels a lot more balanced than its vast size would lead you to believe. The creamy smooth 271bhp, 3.0-litre, V6 twin-turbo diesel (mated to an eight-speed torque converter auto) is also game for a full Sunday’s worth of hard driving. It’s quick to respond to throttle inputs and feels punchy at all speeds. The nice growl from the motor only adds to the experience. In humdrum city driving though, the engine never lets out more than a, well, purr – engine refinement is simply super.
The big Jag also successfully manages to mute out a lot of outside noise. Most bumps are done away with quietly and it’s only the large potholes that thud through the cabin. But, the low ground clearance and massive 3.2m wheelbase do call for a little bit of caution over speedbreakers.
In all, the 2014 XJ delivers all that we’ve ever liked about the big Jag for substantially less money than before. Offering probably the best compromise of driving pleasure and luxury among diesel limos, the XJ is a car that’s tailor made for those who split their time behind the wheel and in the rear seat. Charming as ever, the XJ has just got that much harder to resist.