No sooner has Jaguar launched the XF than it’s readying its next new car: the XJ limo. CAR Online has grabbed the first spyshots of this engineering mule, caught as it ventured out near the company’s Whitley R&D base. The widened tracks and cooling tests at the front indicate this is the new XJ, codenamed X351.
It’s scheduled for launch in 2009/10 and will build on the daring (for Jaguar) design direction pioneered on the XF. That car has split opinion like few others in Jag’s history, so expect some fireworks in the gentlemen’s clubs of London and the Home Counties.
Jag’s rakish new saloon might ruffle a few feathers, but it’s not all change for the big cat. It will keep the aluminium construction of today’s car to trim weight, but gain a much edgier design. When we interviewed design director Ian Callum at the recent XF launch, he suggested that the Mercedes CLS was an inspiration to the style of modern large saloons. Expect a hint of the Mercedes’ slammed look and shallow windowline, but paired with Jag’s new squarer grille and hi-tech lights (possibly LEDs on this iteration).
Bold inside and out
Inside, the XJ will echo the look of the XF’s cabin – which can only be a good thing. The fresh and modern interior of the XF is one of its ace cards; it strikes a fine balance between classical comfort (leather, fine woods, quality craftsmanship) and modernity (pop-up rotary gearchange, disappearing ‘eyelid’ air vents, proximity switches that don’t even need to be touched).
Clearly these snatched pictures don’t tell us too much about the new XJ. Manufacturers use such chassis mules, created from hacked-about current models, to test the engineering set-up on new cars. Only much nearer launch will we see more advanced prototypes in more or less production form.
But X351 will use the existing chassis from the XJ, explaining the cut-n-shut nature of this mule. There’s little wrong with the way the XJ drives – like the outgoing S-Type, it’s saddled with yesteryear looks, not engineering – so there won’t be too much change under the skin.
Key details are an aluminium structure, a straight six and Jag’s new 5.0-litre V8, which is also slotting into numerous large Land Rovers and Range Rovers. The XJ will remain rear wheel drive and the excellent 2.7-litre TDVi V6 diesel will continue too. Unsurprisingly, it’s the best seller in many markets.