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Jaguar XJ Collection says goodbye to the Big Cat in LA

Jaguar's flagship sedan bows out with a special edition model as the company prepares for an all-electric successor.

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Jaguar XJ Collection

The XJ's nine lives are up -- for now at least.

Mike Cutler/Roadshow

Experts tell us that the average house cat lives about 15 years, and the lifespan of outdoor cats is typically much shorter still. So consider it a triumph that the Jaguar XJ has been around since 1968 -- over fifty years. In that time, the XJ has essentially led four generational lives -- not nine. And now, it appears to be time to say goodbye. The British automaker has just revealed the 2019 Jaguar XJ Collection Special Edition, an end-of-run farewell model for the Big Outdoor Cat.

Limited to just 300 units as a US-only special edition, the XJ Collection seen here has just debuted at Wednesday's 2019 LA Auto Show. Based on the long-wheelbase XJL Supercharged trim, the XJ Collection is powered by the company's 470-horsepower, 424 pound-feet of torque forced-induction V8. 

Special touches seem exceedingly modest as far as goodbye gifts to important dignitaries go: door panels with gloss oak veneers featuring unique linear laser inlays, special Collection badging, unique metal door-sill treadplates and a "XJ One of 300 Collection" intaglio badge affixed to its dashboard.

Even for an aging cat near the end of its life, the XJ Collection Special still looks to be pretty spry. The standard XJL Supercharged V8, Jaguar quotes 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds and a top speed limited to 155 mph. As there are no mechanical changes, there's no reason to think the XJ Collection won't be every bit as fleet of foot. 

For 2019, the XJ has even received some helpful new tech touches, including revised InControl Touch Pro infotainment featuring voice command navigation and a no-cost Smartphone Pack featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection is also newly standard on rear-wheel-drive models like this one.

Interestingly, the XJ Collection also figures to be a substantial bargain by XJ standards -- the regular Supercharged V8 model starts at $97,200 (plus $1,025 delivery fee), and this XJ Collection retails from $85,500 -- a price cut of $11,700. If that's not enough, the special model also reintroduces British Racing Green to the model's exterior color palette (as seen here with "True Detective" actress Alexandra Daddario in a Max Montgomery photo shoot).

As we say goodbye to the XJ, it's worth noting that the current X351 Series has been on sale since 2010, and in particular, this fourth-generation model has done a lot to renovate Jaguar's image and catapult the brand's design language into the present day. The X351 was a huge departure for the XJ franchise, both stylistically and philosophically. Its Ian-Callum-designed shape was significantly longer, lower and wider than before, with a much more modern shape and unexpected stylistic departures like those "cats claw" slash taillights and controversial blacked-out D-pillar. If the model was initially jarring to some, it seems to have aged well, both as a design statement and as driver. 

Inside, the XJ Collection's laser-etched oak door panels and intaglio badge shine.

Mike Cutler/Roadshow

XJ sales volume these days is but a pittance, which goes a some way towards explaining why the model is being sunset without a replacement having already been revealed. So far this year, Jaguar has only sold around 1,000 XJs in the US, seemingly as much of a commentary on the state of the full-size luxury sedan market as it is on this model's advanced age. 

In fact, despite a number of much newer entries, Jaguar has been struggling mightily to sell traditional four-door sedans like its much newer and markedly less-costly XE and XF offerings. With more consumers flocking to SUVs, the company has been relying on its F-Pace crossover to prop up its bottom line.

Fortunately, the XJ nameplate won't be gone for long. A Jaguar spokesperson has confirmed to Roadshow that "work is now underway to transform the Castle Bromwich plant into a premium electrified vehicle plant. The first new electric car to be produced at the plant will be Jaguar's flagship luxury saloon, the XJ." That's right, the XJ's fifth life won't be as a traditional fossil-fueled BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class rival -- it will be as a Tesla Model S-baiting EV.