Jaguar XJ and speccing your car at the App store

Published: 29 April 2010

Drove the new Jaguar XJ for the first time the other day: a 3.0-litre diesel long-wheelbase model that struck a chord with me for two reasons. One, I'd written the preview piece for CAR Magazine and had followed its genesis all the way from early scoops to motor show debut. And two, it delivered everything I'd expected after reading reviews by colleagues Gavin Green and Phil McNamara.

Here is a car where you can really feel the technology bubbling away under the skin. The Jag is fashioned from aluminium and the corollary is a nimble chassis that responds quicker to driver inputs than any luxury saloon has a right to. If the BMW 7-series is the current class champion for dynamics, I'd suggest it'll be knocked into a cocked hat by the lithe XJ. I'd still pick an S-class for comfort, but if you care about driving you'd be better served by the Jag.

Jaguar ancient and modern

The XJ's technology makes itself felt even more obviously inside the cabin. While the exterior styling is still Jekyll and Hyde (love the front, jury's out on that bum), the cabin is a design triumph.

Those luminescent dials light up and configure every which way, depending on what the car needs to communicate to you. Select Dynamic mode, and they take on a red hue. In sat-nav guidance phase, one of the dials becomes a map. We've seen similar technology in various Mercs, Lexii and Land Rovers, but the Jag execution is especially neat.

Son et lumière in your next Jag

It got me thinking about a snippet design director Ian Callum told me late last year. We were cooing over said instrument pack at an XJ technical preview and pressing him on the future of electro-dials.

'There's no reason in future why we couldn't let drivers configure their own colours and design themes,' he told us. He imagined the possibility of an App store, like for Apple's iPhone, where users could download different colour schemes for their instruments. 'It's not that different to downloading wallpapers or desktop pictures for your PC or phone.'

So be warned. While an App store for your car is still a far-flung reality for now, it seems that before long we'll all be personalising our cars even more. And a Jaguar XJ with a Scooby Doo rev counter could bark when it's time to change up.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet