Constrained by a limited engine range and uncompetitive prices, Jaguar’s new-generation XJ has struggled to gain traction against top-tier rivals like the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 and Porsche Panamera. Starting now, Jaguar intends to broaden the choice with an all-new supercharged V6 that’s so good it replaces the previous normally aspirated V8. At the same time, by reducing and simplifying prices, Jag hopes to expand the XJ’s appeal at the entry level.
The new V6 is part of a raft of subtle changes for the all-alloy XJ, which include revised suspension settings, upgraded infotainment systems, the adoption across the range of the exceptional ZF eight-speed automatic, and a pricing policy that offers diesel and petrol V6s in short- and long-wheelbase forms at the same $198,800, effectively a $7500 price cut for the lwb.
The headline news is the new supercharged 250kW V6 in place of the old 283kW 5.0 atmospheric V8. There will be those, fuel economy be damned, who still prefer the authority of the eight – they will buy the supercharged V8 – but just about everyone else will prefer the refinement and economy of the V6.
In performance terms, the V6 gives just a little away to the free-breathing V8: the 3.0-litre engine makes 250kW at 6500rpm compared to the 5.0-litre’s 283kW, while the peak torque of 450Nm, available between 3500 and 5000rpm, is 65Nm below the V8. That translates to a difference of just 0.2sec for the claimed zero-to-100km/h sprint: 5.9sec for the V6, versus 5.7sec for the V8, while the V6’s 9.4L/100km combined-cycle economy scores a 1.0L/100km advantage over the V8.
Compared to the muscular V8, the V6 is almost too refined, emitting a muted growl at full throttle, and you struggle to hear even a hint of supercharger whine. Engage the paddleshifters, keep the engine in the powerband, and the XJ’s character hardens and it feels nimble and lively for what is a truly big car. Only when you floor the accelerator at cruising speed does the tranny momentarily falter, pausing perceptibly before kicking down four or five gears.
Steering that’s light and also communicative, comes with an accuracy that’s perfectly suited to the Jag. The suspension is taut and, while the spring rates and dampers have been softened marginally, on the 20in wheels of the cars we drove, the ride is probably too firm, particularly in the rear.
Time has been kind to Jaguar’s XJ. There really is nothing like it and the new V6 only strengthens its competitiveness. Only question now is: diesel or petrol?
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