The Jaguar XJ has a more luxurious rear cabin for 2014
A more comfortable cat - PHOTO: JAGUAR

MORE than four years after it was launched here, the Jaguar XJ remains surprisingly fresh, like it knows more age-defying secrets than some Hong Kong actresses. The unusual fastback styling of this flagship saloon from the British luxury carmaker may have something to do with it. This full-sized Jag still looks as imposing, even if nothing on the outside has been changed for its 2014 update, except for a red-backed "growler" badge.

But elsewhere, there are more substantial changes. The doors now have a soft-close function, while the rear of the 3.0 V6 supercharged model gets two reclining electric seats with a massage function offering five programmes. Previously, this model came with a rear bench seat.

The rear of the latest 3.0 V6 SC will still seat three occupants when the centre armrest is stowed upright. But, offered standard as a long-wheelbase variant - with an extra 125 mm for a total of 3,157 mm - it is most sybaritic for two passengers, especially with the rear-seat entertainment package that includes a pair of 10.2-inch screens and wireless headphones. A 1,300-watt Meridian audio system with an eye-popping 26 speakers is optional.

There are also two leather-topped tray tables which fold out from the front seatbacks for either some in-car work or a quick breakfast. As before, the XJ is also available with a 5.0 V8 supercharged engine. What is new for 2014, however, is a 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder turbocharged unit - the same power plant found in the Range Rover Evoque. For now, the XJ 2.0 is available with a standard wheelbase only. On the XJ 3.0 V6 SC, the supercharged unit driving the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission impresses with its lag-free strength and delightfully smooth operation.

The supercharged V6 engine pulls strongly when required of it, yet remains limo-like in every aspect, from the quiet cabin to the good ride comfort.

The XJ is relatively firmly sprung but its adaptive suspension system and extended wheelbase ensure a cushioned ride with most bumps soaked up, except for the really nasty ones. The multi-link rear air suspension was actually re-tuned for improved rear-seat comfort.

Yet the most refreshing feature of this big saloon is its sporty handling. Throw it into a fast corner and it responds with poise and composure. The lightweight aluminium body is key to this ability. At 1,760 kg, the XJ is as much as 150 kg lighter than a car with an equivalent steel construction. The clever software of the eight-speeder also helps when the car is driven enthusiastically. Unlike its competitors, the XJ's gearbox immediately jumps down three or four gear ratios when the left steering wheel-mounted shift paddle is pulled during cruising. This useful multiple downshift feature is also available during kickdown, when the accelerator is floored.

With its agility and enhanced luxury, this big cat proves that age is not an issue.


CAR INFORMATION

Jaguar XJ 3.0 Premium Luxury SWB (A)

Price

:$335,000

Engine Type

:

V6

Engine Cap

:

2,995 cc

Horsepower

:

335 bhp

Torque

:

600 Nm

Transmission

:

8-speed (A)

Acceleration

:

5.9 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

250 km/h