Jaguar Tweaks XJ; More to Come

March 7, 2007

The look is undoubtedly familiar, but a closer inspection reveals the “new Jaguar XJ” on display at this year’s Geneva Motor Show really is a different cat. Despite significant technical innovations and a radically restyled exterior, the British maker played it a bit too safe when it completely redesigned its flagship sedan several years ago, and the market reaction was a decided yawn. Now, with the ’08, mid-cycle update, Jaguar hopes to regain some momentum – while signaling that it’s ready to make some big move.

As earlier reported, the 2008 sedan has made several notable changes, starting with the new, trapezoidal air intakes on the lower front end. The overall look of the car’s face is far more striking, counterbalanced by a small rear spoiler and side vents. Meanwhile, the interior is revised, as well, with such niceties as cooled seats (they were already heated), digital radio, and Bluetooth for hands-free cellphone operation.


The “base” car’s normally-aspirated, 300-hp 4.2-liter V-8 goes unchanged, as does the supercharged eight-banger in the supercharged XJR, which continues producing 400 hp.


A senior design source tells that the new update is effectively a placeholder until Jag can do a complete reskinning of the XJ for 2010. There should be no mistaking new for old at that point, with Jaguar adopting a much more aggressive and expressive design “DNA.” A hint of what’s coming can be seen in the concept C-XF, which debuted in Detroit , this January, and is now making its European premier. It’s “about 70 to 80 percent of what you’ll see in production,” we’re told, with many of the upcoming changes needed to improve ergonomics – and to meet U.S. safety standards. But with the replacement for the current S-Type, Jaguar will not make the same mistake it did with the near-look-alike XJ.


While the upcoming XF is largely locked down, Jaguar designers are reportedly still working hard to develop an acceptable replacement for the much-aligned X-Type, the brand’s smallest model. Numerous skeptics have urged Jaguar to get out of the entry-luxury segment, but eyeing competitors like the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the Brits are hoping to give it one more try before walking away from their own X.

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