Jaguar brought its new XJ to San Francisco for a special preview before its official North American debut at Pebble Beach. The car represents a radical update to the XJ model and shows off a new flagship for Jaguar.
Jaguar, sold by Ford to Tata Motors during the recession, faced it all with a typically British stiff upper lip, continuing the transformation of its product line that began with the XK. The final car to benefit from designer Ian Callum's unique vision is the XJ, which goes into production in early 2010.
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The XJ is Jaguar's flagship sedan, and will compete with the Mercedes-Benz S-class and BMW 7-series. The XJ's design had remained little changed for 40 years, but Ian Callum (seen here next to the car) radically updated the look, giving it modern proportions and a few tweaks to make it stand out from the crowd.
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The XJ's engine, which will also be used in the XK and XF, not to mention Land Rover models, is a 5-liter direct injection V-8. The car will be available naturally aspirated, or with two supercharger options. The engine shown here has the top-level supercharger, making 510 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque, enough to get the car to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, according to Jaguar.
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Although it looks large, this new XJ is only an inch longer than the previous generation XJ. Most of the apparent bulk comes from the high sides, reaching up to a belt-line at window height.
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The side graphic stretches back to near the trunk lip, while the rear pillars are black, making them blend into the back glass.
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The Supersport logo on the side vent is a new designation for Jaguar. It indicates that the car has the top-level supercharger.
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The back of the car sports this leaping Jaguar emblem. It is large and prominent, making a statement to those following the car.
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The front headlights were kept intentionally simple. Designer Ian Callum mentioned that, with bi-xenon lights, he could make the headlight casings much smaller than with older halogen lamps, as heat isn't as much of an issue.
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Unlike headlights, the tail lights get a fairly dramatic treatment. The lenses ride up over the fender, while the lights themselves make slashing lines, reminiscent of Jaguar claw marks.
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The cabin shows the fine coachwork that Jaguar wants to be known for. Similar to the XF, where a conscious effort was make to eliminate plastics, the XJ interior is all machined metal, leather, and wood.
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Like a boats gunwale, this wood strip encircles the cabin, even forming a ridge all around the dashboard.
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The air vents are machined metal, with blue accent lights, and an analog clock sits between them in the center of the dashboard. Stitched leather covers the broad surfaces.
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Similar to the XF, the shifter for the automatic transmission is a knob that rises out of the center console. As for cabin tech, it's all operated with the touch screen, an update to the interface used in current Jaguar models.
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The really remarkable tech feature of the new XJ is its virtual instrument cluster, displayed on a TFT. This screen changes depending on the needs of the driver, for example showing navigation information in the left virtual gauge when the car is under route guidance.