The eight-speed automatic is otherwise impressive, unobtrusively rifling between the well-spaced ratios. Prompt shifts can be commanded via precise wheel-mounted paddles, and it’s rare to find the gearbox flustered by your actions. Traction is no issue, either, further making the Jaguar easy to drive. At 70mph the engine is only turning 1400rpm in top, so it’s a quiet and relaxed affair when cruising.
What’s not so impressive is the ride, at least in this example with 20in wheels fitted. In Comfort mode the Jaguar feels soft, although it doesn’t roll excessively, but little bumps, cracks and divots in the road are continually transmitted into the cabin. Hit a sharper bump or crack in the road and you’ll get a pronounced jolt and some shudder through the cabin. So, unless you're on a truly smooth road, it generally feels a bit busy.
Rougher surfaces prove similarly unsettling. It’s not terrible by any stretch, even in the back, but it’s not the magic carpet you might hope it to be. There’s a fair bit of tyre noise from the front end and some wind noise from the front pillars also intrudes.
During our short test, which took into account some relaxed motorway, town and cross-country driving, the Jaguar returned 29.7mpg. That’s some way off it’s claimed figure but no doubt it would be higher following a longer, more easy-going trip. Fortunately, the Jaguar has a 16.9-gallon fuel tank. Consequently, it's granted a decent range, upwards of 500 miles, even at that rate of consumption.
Inside, behind the wheel, you’ll find yourself in a supportive, if overly firm-feeling seat. The steering column adjusts electrically for rise and reach, which in conjunction with a wide range of seat adjustments makes it easy to find a good driving position.
Visibility out of the cabin isn’t exceptional, but it’s not difficult to position the Jaguar on the road, thanks in part to its precise responses. Parking is no chore either, as a new 360-degree camera makes it easy to spot obstacles.
The digital instrument cluster is as clear and informative as it was previously, and the new ability to show full-screen navigation is a pleasing touch. The system isn't as good looking or as slick as Audi's equivalent, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.
The other key interior update is the addition of Jaguar’s InControl Touch Pro infotainment system. It offers tablet-like functionality, with various apps, and is much more responsive and useful than before.
The rear of the XJ, which may be a more pertinent consideration for some buyers, isn’t as spacious-feeling as it perhaps needs to be. While there’s plenty of leg and knee room, and lots of storage points and creature comforts, head room isn’t plentiful.
Passengers up to six feet tall will only just brush the roof liner, but the upright seating, narrow rear windows and inwards-curving roof pillars generate a somewhat cramped feel.
It’s smartly finished in the back, though, and few would otherwise find major fault with it. Massaging, ventilated seats, rear dual-zone climate and integrated rear displays provide plenty of distraction otherwise. The boot's big, too, and you get a space-saver spare wheel as standard.
Should I buy one?
Whether you should buy a Jaguar XJ or not depends on your priorities. If you’re looking for a large luxury saloon that’s engaging and rewarding to drive, then the XJ has much of merit to offer. In that instance, however, one of the lighter, less costly short-wheelbase versions would be more easily recommended.