Thursday, 7 October 2010

The XJ, up close and personal.

The new XJ LWB, with Hatfields salesman Michael in the background.

I’ve written a fair amount about the new Jaguar XJ on these pages. So much that if I were paid for what I write I could almost buy a scale model of one. OK, a cheap one maybe.

It’s been on sale for around a year, and yet I see none on the road. A few weeks ago, I grew bored of waiting and motored on across to my local Jaguar dealer, Hatfields of Sheffield. I wasn’t optimistic of my chances even to see it - a chap I knew a few years ago was ignored by the staff for arriving in paint-spattered clothes – still of high quality, but he was given the impression he wasn’t wanted. So he took the money he was going to use to buy a brand-new XKR and bought a Mercedes instead. A fluffy-haired young man in a slightly down-at-heel Peugeot thus wouldn’t go down well...

When in the showroom, a chap called Michael asked me within a minute if he could help me. I made it plain I wasn’t looking to buy, and that I was a writer seeking the chance to nose round a new XJ to confirm his own opinions. “Of course!” he said, showing me to both short and long wheelbase versions in the showroom and spending a good half hour discussing the future of the company with me. He confirmed my suspicions; there are no plans for a Daimler X351 nor a larger car with the Daimler brand at the moment. The 4 cylinder diesel mooted for XF is also, so far as Jaguar’s dealers know, a myth. When the time came for me to leave, he toddled off and returned weighted down with just about every piece of current Jaguar literature he could lay his hands on. Praise, then, must go to Hatfields.

And what of the XJ? Well, the first thing that sprang to mind is that it photographs terribly. In the metal it’s far more coherent – especially in LWB form and in black – than any still image allows you to comprehend. When viewed alongside an XF – as, funnily enough, most XJs in showrooms are – it makes the smaller car look lumpen and vaguely dated. Too much is electronic though – the cars in the showroom had been powered down, meaning access to the glovebox and boot amongst others was not an option. The dashboard is a very pleasant surprise – far from the plasticky appearance I’d been hoping against, it was upholstered in high-quality leather, looking and feeling most contemporary. The wood on the doors works well too, and there’s space for even my legs in the back of the SWB version.

My one remaining static issue is headroom. Maybe it’s that at 6’3”, I’m something of a giant. But the glass roof means the headlining is too low. This can of course be solved by lowering the seat, but this strikes me as a solution to a problem that needn’t exist.

I say static issue because I tried to blag a test drive. This was my one request which was denied, and then I suspect more due to my age than the dealership’s reticence. Sadly, I doubt Jaguar’s insurance covers nineteen year olds who aren’t in a position to buy. A pity, but I’ll have the chance one day to report from behind the wheel also. Sort the roof out, Jaguar, and then on what I currently know I can wholeheartedly recommend it. As for now, I recommend it if you’re under six foot tall. Or being chauffeured.


  1. All praise to that salesman in Hatfield's. He may not have sold a car that day but if you do end up as the next Jeremey Clarkson, guess where you will buy your cars.

    When I was promoted to Captain and posted to Germmany meaning a Tax Free car was on the cards, I could not make up my mind between a BMW 5 series or the Mercedes 230 E. The BMW dealer treated me with utter contempt. The Mercedes dealer let me have a spin and when, at the closing question, even though I was really keen, I refused to sign as I wanted my wife's opinion (who was still packing up the house in UK), he tossed me the keys and said, 'Why don't you surprise her and whizz back to UK for the weekend?'

    Three days later I was back and with my wife's blessing, paid cash.

    Later, I chopped that one in and bought another off him and then, once I was out of the Army and the business was going well, bought a fully loaded SL. Three cars he sold me in three years.

    Even if it photographs terribly, a few photos would have been nice, especially one of the future Jaguar Salesman of the Year...

    I qualify that remark with 'future' as had the salesman really been on the ball, he would have promised you a test drive had you returned with two other people you knew could be in the market for an executive saloon. Who knows? Your Dad or rich uncle might have been impressed enough.

  2. There are pics of the cars, just that I didn't have them with me when I uploaded this article. One is to be added as and when I get the chance - time has become a luxury since starting my second year of university, so I have to grab the odd moment when I can!

  3. Best study hard with all the student debts you are going to have to pay off.

    Photos or no, it was still a good article and I enjoyed reading it.

    You could always try going back to the future Jag salesman of the year and ask him if he would give you a test drive if you brought him two good leads...

    How does the room in the back of the LWB compare with that of the Phaeton? And, in your opinion, do you think the residuals will be as bad?

  4. Never sat in the back of a Phaeton, but the Jag in LWB form should be fine for anyone up to eight feet tall or so - I'm 6'3" and the SWB was more than spacious enough.

    Residuals should be strong; in fact, I believe they're currently commading a premium.

  5. Great read Sam on the Jag XJ. I saw one on the road the other day when I was out driving my car. It looks far much better in the metal than the pictures suggest IMO.

    Would have one of these than the German opposition any day of the week. It's just a lot more special than the equivalent S-Class, A8 and 7-Series. Another that it's not a German car.