There was an awful lot to digest in Jaguar Land Rover's 'Reimagine' product plan, announced on Monday. Not least amongst the momentous decisions was the move to cancel the car we all believed would see it into this decade - the all-new XJ.
"Although the nameplate may be retained, the planned Jaguar XJ replacement will not form part of the line-up, as the brand looks to realise its unique potential" was the official line, which still seems bizarre even with a few days to let it settle in. Given the amount of development work already done on the new model, and the expectation that it would be offered in electrified format, the decision to cut it seems bold to say the least. What better was to announce an overhauled, luxury-minded brand than with a range-topping luxury saloon? It all seemed to make so much sense - but clearly something doesn't fit. Whether it's the limited business case for a shrinking segment or just a misalignment with where Jaguar wants to be, we don't know. Probably there's a reason we don't work in automotive strategy.
It's a shame either way because while other Jaguars have obviously enjoyed the limelight, in the real world nothing has better summed up what the firm stands for over the past 50 years than the XJ. Perhaps that has become part of the problem, given the big Jag has never had a desperately trendy image - but for combining luxury, performance and handling panache, little has come close. There isn't a four-door saloon like an XJ, and it now sounds like there never will be again.
So, the least we could do was honour the XJ's legacy with a couple of our favourites from the classifieds. Given the name stretches back to the 1960s and there are cars for sale on PH from six different decades, we've XJs aplenty to pick from. Here's to you, old friend.
Jaguar's bold new direction is understandable. Commendable, even. Plainly something had to change. Making very nice saloon cars that too few people bought was not a sustainable business model. Better to prepare for the future and let Land Rover do more of the heavy lifting. Get it right, and the fruits of Jaguar's bespoke BEV platform might hit the tsunami of first-time buyers going electric in the next few years.
Still, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't mourn the departure of the XJ. For decades the model showed what the space between premium and luxury - between aspirational and extravagant - should actually look like. The X350 arguably paid the price for its styling conservatism, but twenty years ago it still seemed like there few things sleeker or meaner or as satisfyingly caddish as a big-engined XJ. It helped of course that the car was no slouch - especially when powered by the 400hp 4.2-litre supercharged V8 you got in the XJR.
This one is from 2008, meaning it's the facelifted X358 car. But the theme is unchanged: leather trimmed old world charm, suspended on air, sculpted from aluminium and fired to the horizon on 399lb ft of slusher moderated torque. The car had its established foibles, sure, but it's unlikely any have surfaced in an example with an unimpeachable service history and just 25k on the clock. Clearly £26k puts it right at the top end of market - but what a way to say goodbye to the last vestiges of Jaguar's heyday. NC
Now's not really the time to say I've not always loved XJs, is it? But though a Broadspeed XJC makes me dizzy with desire and a V12 S3 is a bit of a guilty pleasure, the XJ40/X300/X308 era doesn't appeal like it does to so many others. Great Shed fodder, but I don't like them any more than that - sorry. And although an X350 like Nic's will surely be lovely to drive with its lightweight aluminium construction, I can't get onboard with the styling. It's built in the 21st century but looks like a Heartbeat prop.
Handily, however, that's all offset by my affection for the X351 XJ - I absolutely adore them. Unlike any other XJ, it's one that still looks modern, even though production ended in 2019 and it must have been designed almost a decade and a half ago. I think it looks fantastic, and will do for a good while yet,
That they're renowned for being so good to drive has only increased the fondness, especially as rivals like the A8 and S-Class have further relegated the importance of the person behind the wheel. Especially in the times we live in, the thought of a driving tour in an XJ - many hundreds of miles and some brilliant tarmac - sounds most agreeable indeed.
Particularly so in an XJ like this one. It's an early X351, registered in 2010, but having averaged just 3,000 miles a year or so since then. It's the non-supercharged 5.0 V8, a rare engine choice given the diesels and faster V8s also on offer, but 385hp should suit just fine. I'm mainly into it for the spec: blue with tan always looks good, and never more so than for a Jaguar XJ. Perhaps not on the steering wheel, but you won't find me complaining too much - and certainly not at £17,995. MB
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