Jaguar XJ Sovereign 2.7 TDVi LWB

Future classic
old-jag-xj-rear-staticAt first glance, Jaguar’s new XJ couldn’t be further removed from the car it replaces. While the new model is low-slung and futuristic, the outgoing XJ was resolutely retro, with classic lines that showed a direct lineage to the original XJ of 1968.

And yet, the previous ‘X350’ XJ was launched only in 2003, and its styling masked the fact that this was a pretty hi-tech car. Indeed, the X350 has a lot more in common with the new car than with the older XJs that it resembles. Like the new car, it had an all-aluminium body – in fact some of the underfloor stampings are cunningly carried over into the new XJ.

In the run-up to the launch of the new XJ, Jaguar wanted us to have a last look at the old XJ – mainly to highlight just how radical a shift the new car represents. But the old car was the last of a 40-year line – and its passing needed to be marked.

In fact, the X350 XJ’s time may not quite be up yet. It remains a very competent car – but that mix of old and new – classic styling coupled with modern engines and rustproof aluminium body – makes it a car that could still figure strongly in a chauffeur fleet. New enough to earn its keep on regular weekday business jobs; but enough of a classic to be a usable wedding car at the weekend.

To the petrolheads among us, the XJ is an object of desire. Jaguar took some flak for making an “old-fashioned” 21st century saloon, but those lines are timeless, and indeed, the XJ’s looks are so stylish that you’re prepared to overlook some of its quirks.

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Iniside the car, it’s a world away from the super-styled new XJ. The upright windscreen and big, flat walnut dashboard wouldn’t be out of place in a 1960s XJ. Later models had the option of a gunmetal aluminium-style finish instead of walnut – a look that works well in the XK coupe, but seems somewhat incongruous here. Proper Jags have proper walnut and proper leather!