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We cruise in Jag's sensuous 2013 XJ

By: Jesse Adams in London, England

Jaguar launched its new-for-2013 XJ saloon last week, and if you’re thinking its long and sensuous body looks the same as it has since its debut in this shape three years ago, that’s because it does. It’s identical in every way actually. Which could mean only one thing – all changes have been made under its skin.

The 2013 Jaguar XJ looks the same but underneath the sleek aluminium skin are new engines and an 8-speed gearbox.The 2013 Jaguar XJ looks the same but underneath the sleek aluminium skin are new engines and an 8-speed gearbox.The 2013 Jaguar XJ looks the same but underneath the sleek aluminium skin are new engines and an 8-speed gearbox.The 2013 Jaguar XJ looks the same but underneath the sleek aluminium skin are new engines and an 8-speed gearbox.The 2013 Jaguar XJ looks the same but underneath the sleek aluminium skin are new engines and an 8-speed gearbox.The 2013 Jaguar XJ looks the same but underneath the sleek aluminium skin are new engines and an 8-speed gearbox.The 2013 Jaguar XJ looks the same but underneath the sleek aluminium skin are new engines and an 8-speed gearbox.

The big news is that Jag’s biggest car now gets power from a relatively tiny 2-litre turbo with 177kW and 340Nm. It’s the same engine that comes in Jaguar’s sister brand Range Rover’s Evoque, but for the time being it won’t be offered in the XJ in our market.

We will, however, get a new 250kW/450Nm supercharged V6, that will replace the current naturally-aspirated 5-litre V8 in South African models. This new 3-litre will also be one of three engine options in the upcoming F-Type roadster, and if its performance in the giant XJ is anything to go by, the new sportscar will be one smooth-revving and boisterous little pearl.

While the new force-fed V6 lacks some of the existing flagship Supersport’s domineering power outputs – and it rightfully should considering the 375kW/625Nm coming out of the eight supercharged cylinders – it in no way feels under-endowed.

8-SPEED AUTO

A new 8-speed automatic gearbox (that will come in all XJ and smaller XF sedans from next year) can be credited with at least some of the instantly available torque, but even so the supercharged six-pot with a Roots-type blower set in the vee, shows little regard for all the weight it lugs around.

Here, it shouts with a higher pitched monotone than the lumpy, thumping V8 in the Supersport, but the small capacity doesn’t at all detract from the brawniness a boardroom delivery vehicle like this should have.

LACKS SOME MEATINESS

Not sure if I can say the same for the new 2-litre turbo which I also sampled. Its power is sufficient at high revs, but the car lacks some of the meatiness its bigger brothers have in not only grunt, but also suspension plushness and overall feel. I fear this engine and body combination was developed more for green eco activists and less for blue-light brigaders.

However, the announcement of a new range-topping XJ called the Ultimate should pique the interest of heads of state and other fortunate types who do their commuting blue-light-style in the back seat.

THE ‘ULTIMATE’ JAG

The Ultimate gets a slightly different front bumper, polished tailpipes and specific 20” wheels, but more importantly caters to rear occupants with two individual massaging captain’s chairs divided by a mechanised table, an obligatory champagne chiller, two TV screens and two iPads integrated into the front seat backs with keyboards.

The 2013 XJ will be available locally in December. The South African range will consist of 3-litre V6 turbodiesel, 3-litre Supercharged V6 petrol, and 5-litre Supercharged V8 models. All will be available in long-wheelbase guise as an option. The XJ Ultimate, which comes only in top Supercharged V8 guise, will be sold on an order only basis.

Pricing for the new range is not yet confirmed. -Star Motoring

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