Jaguar replaces design evolution with revolution

  • 28-Jul-2009 10:55 EDT
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Jaguar's new XJ design is an almost total departure from previous generations of the model range. All versions get an opening panoramic roof.

An aluminum, magnesium, and composite alloy body shell, panoramic glass roof, a choice of gasoline and diesel engines, advanced dynamics and differential control, Cd of 0.29, virtual instrumenta­tion, and an aesthetic revolution make up Jaguar’s next-generation XJ. Described by the company as being "all-new," it arguably is compared to the previous model line, although like most manufacturers, Jaguar has carried over some technologies and design elements from its other models.

Although the company comes up with some extraordinary phrases that push the envelope of the English language, including the claim that the car "re-imagines" the concept of a sporting luxury sedan, and stresses its "new design direction," there is still just a lingering fixation with the past. The roofline, it states, "takes its inspiration from the original 1968 XJ" sedan. But the XJ is really a revolution, not an evolution, of traditional Jaguar aesthetics.

Certainly the new XJ takes its inspiration from the XF, with a similar coupe-like signature although with a broader, much deeper mesh grille and more pronounced hood line. The large, purposeful, semifastback design is aimed squarely at the Mercedes-Benz E and S-Class, BMW 7-Series, Audi A8, and Porsche Panamera. It is available in regular and long-wheelbase forms.

The engine choice covers three gasoline units plus a diesel. Precisely tuned intake systems provide a sporty soundtrack for the gasoline units on wide throttle openings and at high revs, but the car has been designed to cruise very quietly, having a full secondary bulkhead, laminated glass in all main windows, a Cd of 0.29, and what Jaguar terms an "optimized" body structure.

The most powerful gasoline engine is a supercharged V8 5.0-L AJ-V8 Gen III, producing 375 kW, or an SAE-certified 510 hp, at 6000-6500 rpm. Two other versions of the engine produce 283 kW (380 hp) in naturally aspirated form and 346 kW (464 hp) when supercharged.

The car’s AJ-V6D 3.0-L diesel delivers 202 kW (271 hp) at 4000 rpm and 600 N·m (443 lb·ft) at 2000 rpm compared to a best from the gasoline engines of 625 N·m (461 lb·ft) between 2500 and 5000 rpm. The gasoline engine is shared with the XF and XKR, the diesel with the XF. All units drive through an adaptive ZF six-speed automatic gearbox with paddle manual selection.

Performance figures include a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of 4.9 s for the most powerful supercharged version and a highly creditable 6.4 s for the diesel. Top speed of all versions is limited to 250 km/h (155 mph).

The car uses established Jaguar chassis systems that incorporate air suspension, adaptive dynamics (continuously variable damping), active differential control, and "quick-ratio" steering.

The outgoing XJ had an aluminum body shell, and Jaguar has decided to stay with the material for the new car, again using aerospace-derived riveting and bonding techniques. Jaguar underlines that it has adopted a "life cycle" philosophy for its new sedan, which includes using recycled material where appropriate, low energy manufacturing processes, maximizing durability, and easy end-of-life recycling.

The car’s aluminum architecture uses about 50% recycled material for the body shell (Jaguar states that it aims to up that to 75% in coming years). The company claims a savings of 3 t (3.3 ton) of CO2 per vehicle compared to a body shell made entirely from new aluminum.

While the mechanical elements of the XJ are very significant, it is the car’s aesthetics that emerge as its most salient aspect, with just a gesture to previous-generation Jaguars.

"We took inspiration from classic Jaguars like the Mk.2 and original XJ," said Design Director Ian Callum. "We worked very hard to get the proportions of the car right; the front of the car is not that dissimilar in many ways to the square grille of the original XJ6. We have become ‘braver’ in our graphics and produced distinctive taillamps. These are signatures."

He describes the car as representing Jaguar’s new design language—like the XF but more so. The XJ’s side elevation includes elongated teardrop side windows, and its waistline is pronounced.

The car has a wide 1626-mm (64-in) front track and short front overhang of 890 mm (35 in), with a long rear overhang of 1200 mm (47.2 in). The mesh grille is a larger, bolder variation of the XF’s. LED light clusters are used at the rear, and Callum has kept any ornamentation at the back of the car to a minimum. The trunk lid incorporates Jaguar’s "leaper" motif.

But for the XJ, the interior is of equal importance, perhaps more so than the exterior.

As might be expected in a Jaguar sedan, wood and leather are there in abundance, but the company has emphasized advanced technology in parallel with tradition. Particularly significant is the use of a virtual instrument cluster with no physical instruments, although an analog clock is fitted.

A 12.3-in, high-definition screen provides all functions performed by traditional dials. The instrumentation is priority based. On engine start, three dials "build:" the center with speedometer, a rev counter to the right, and fuel and temperature gauges to the left. The system uses a spotlight effect to highlight areas displaying the most important information, such as approach to maximum revs, low fuel, or radio station selection.

Prioritization switches to a higher level when the driver selects Dynamic (sport) mode and the dials show red. A prominent gear-position indicator also glows red as the rev limit is approached.

It is possible to substitute the default dials (except the speedometer), replacing them on selection with navigation information or control menus.

The car also has a dual-view 8-in touch screen to allow driver and front passenger to view different content. Interactive voice control is now fitted, with simplified operation and improved vocabulary. The XJ has a rotary transmission selector similar to that of the XF.

Jaguar is usually lavish with leather use, and the new car has more than any previous model, stated the company. It includes door tops, center console, armrests, and instrument panel, and it incorporates twin-needle stitching. The Supersport version also has leather roof lining.

Phosphor blue lighting adds to the car’s luxury ambiance. Doors have pannier-style storage compartments.

There are nine mirror-matched wood veneers from which to choose, plus carbon fiber and piano black finishes. The veneers or other finishes sweep forward from the doors, curving to the front of the car ahead of the instrument panel.

A panoramic glass roof was part of the car’s design from the outset. It has facilitated a lower, more streamlined roofline, explained Callum. The roof can be opened, the glass sliding up and out, avoiding headroom compromise—and twin electric blinds are fitted.

Emphasis has been placed on in-car entertainment. Jaguar offers CD/DVD functions; analog, DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting), or Sirius satellite radio receivers; digital or analog TV; and connectivity for portable systems. A 1200-W Bowers & Wilkins surround system can be specified with 20 speakers powered through 15 channels and state-of-the-art sound processing technology. The XJ has what is described as the first automotive application of the Audyssey MultEQ XT audio tuning system, which digitally corrects any imperfections to deliver what Jaguar describes as distortion-free sound for all seating positions.

The car also sees the first automotive application of Dolby Pro Logic IIix technology and is the first vehicle to offer the choice of the DTS Neo:6 decoder to deliver 7.1 surround-sound audio. Rear-seat entertainment includes 8-in LCD screens in the rear of the front-seat headrests.

The XJ has an overall length of 5122 and 5247 mm (201.7 and 206.6 in) in short- and long-wheelbase forms, respectively; width including mirrors of 2110 mm (83.1 in); and height of 1448 mm (57 in). European Union model curb mass, depending on version, ranges from 3870 to 4223 lb (1755 to 1915 kg).

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