By on January 24, 2018

The Jaguar XJ, a slinky lineage of high-end saloons known for shuttling around British PMs, fictional heads of MI6, and The Equalizer, might not be around for much longer. At least not in the manner we’re used to seeing it.

British publication Autocar claims the automaker plans to spring a wholly new, “reinvented” flagship model on us before too long, and it won’t have an inline-six, V8, or V12 under the hood. It won’t use any gas at all. Nor will it remain a sedan.

Looking around at today’s vehicular landscape, it may be the only way to save the XJ.

According to the shadowy source of Autocar‘s information, it seems Jaguar still wants a flagship in this era of hot-selling F-Pace SUVs and shrinking large sedan sales. However, it also wants a technological halo car. It’s a strategy we’ve seen followed by several high-end automakers, but the car being replaced (or supplemented with) is usually never a legend. And that the XJ is.

Image: public domain

Appearing in 1968 and soon replacing the girthy and slow-selling Mark X as the marque’s flagship, the model’s styling cues and overall silhouette didn’t completely fade to history until the release of the radically revamped current generation in 2009. Along the way, the XJ line ditched its famed inline-six and less-revered V12 engines, adopted aluminum architecture, and fell in love with V6 and V8 powerplants.

Also along the way, premium buyers gravitated elsewhere. While 2017 was the brand’s best sales year in the U.S. and on a global scale, it wasn’t because of the popularity of the XJ. Sales of the range-topping sedan fell 29 percent in the U.S. last year. Volume is half of what it was in 2013, and a quarter of what Jaguar recorded 2004.

It’s no wonder people whispered about whether the XJ had a future at all.

public domain

Now we hear the next XJ will appear late this year and go on sale in 2019, earlier than some predictions, as a purely electric car. While the sedan-like profile is said to remain, the model gains five-door practicality in its future iteration.

Interestingly, the Ian Callum-designed car is said to ditch the styling cues of the previous generation, creating a new design direction for the marque. It’s alleged the new model sufficiently impressed top brass in Coventry. Besides these scant details, the model’s capabilities, including range, remain a mystery. However, expect plenty of I-Pace technology to find its way into the XJ.

Jaguar’s upcoming all-wheel-drive electric crossover makes 400 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque from two motors, with a battery pack sufficient for 220 miles of range.

Developed with the Tesla Model S buyer in mind, an electric XJ would also allow the well-heeled to virtue signal their way past top-flight BMW and Mercedes-Benz buyers. As well, Europe’s increasingly strict regulatory environment means a de-emissioned Jag could soon be the only way for Anglophiles to put on airs and not find themselves banned from entering city centers.

Hardcore Brits might shake their head, but traditional passenger cars are in serious danger. Survival often means sacrilege.

[Images: Jaguar Land Rover]

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38 Comments on “Is It Time to Kiss the Jaguar XJ – at Least As We Know It – Goodbye?...”

  • avatar

    “It won’t use any gas at all. Nor will it remain a sedan.”

    Don’t sound like no G-D flagship from Jaguar to me. I don’t care much for the current XJ6, as it abandoned the prior lineage of the sedan entirely. BUT, I think there’s still a place for a *correct looking* XJ6 sedan in the lineup, even if it has a hybrid power plant of some sort.

    Mostly I just want the 04-09 sedan with a hybrid. Make that.

  • avatar

    Also, the current XJ does not possess dignity. Even going back to the Mark X, the line always did. They lost the plot.

  • avatar

    Stiff upper lip and all that rubbish. Man, those older Jags are substantial looking cars, just beautiful.

  • avatar

    My reaction.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    It’s interesting how we’re seeing this phenomenon at both the high and low ends of the sedan spectrum.

    With more people gravitating toward large luxury SUVs instead of large luxury sedans, all of the remaining sales percentage is converging toward the perennial favorites, the S-Class and 7 Series. That means second-fiddle entries like the XJ and LS now have to get creative if they want to scrape out some of that niche.

    Likewise, at the low end, we’re gonna see the Accord and Camry, both of which are hot off the presses, get much more market share than before, leaving Ford, Volkswagen, Chrysler and probably a couple of other companies wondering if they should just discontinue their mid-sizers all together.

    • 0 avatar

      I think you’re right. FCA has already quit the midsize game for all intents and purposes. I think Ford will bag the Focus. Chevy has to do something about the Malibu, it’s too close to the Impala in size and looks. Nissan and Mazda?

    • 0 avatar
      spreadsheet monkey

      Do any private buyers still buy the 7-series or S-class?

      Here in the UK, they’re only bought by high end livery companies.

      If you’re rich and you want to spend big money on your car, you either go down the luxury SUV route (Range Rover is king) or you go for something sporty like a Maserati Quattroporte, a Panamera or a 6-series Gran Coupe.

      Jaguar is doing the right thing by doing something different and not trying to go toe to toe with Merc and BMW.

  • avatar

    The XJ was killed in 2009.

    I have no use for that Citroen-looking thing they have now.

  • avatar

    I agree with most of the comments here – namely, that the XJ was most interesting when it was most distinctive. I think that there are ways to reinvent the XJ, but it has to be its own thing. The current model suffers from looking too much like a larger XF. And the XF was very deliberately supposed to be “not old Jaguar”.

    So the XJ can’t just be a special version of the XF, and it can’t be a special version of the F-Pace.

    I think the XJ could work as a very unique Tesla competitor. But even so, it has to be a UNIQUE competitor. Otherwise, how will it get attention in a crowded marketplace?

  • avatar

    Bonus content: Check out this web page (at a Jaguar dealer’s website) to help you tell the XF and XJ apart:

    Does anyone see a problem here?

    • 0 avatar

      BMW and Audi don’t see a problem. Can’t tell their offerings apart until they’re parked next to each other and compare their lengths. At least the XJ looks different from the rear than it’s smaller siblings.

  • avatar

    Take a page out of Porsche’s Panamera playbook: make a hybrid 4 door F type as the halo Jag.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    This should be more disappointing than it is, but the XJ stopped being interesting when it lost the classic quad-headlight look. They may have wanted to leave the staid Old World vibe of the iconic Jags behind, but they turned it into something derivative.

    Modern just like everything else. And invisible.

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      Effing this! Those were the great Jags. My friend’s Dad had a brand new V12 in 1988 that he was at least twice pulled over in – my friend and I were with him for just two of those incidents.

  • avatar

    Now I know what happened to the XJ! Remember when that car would turn heads? I believe this current car has crossed my path once or twice but was only remarkable for its soulless bland exterior lines. NOW I know that this car replaced the “nice” one. Thank you TTAC!

  • avatar

    Interesting that so many dislike the current generation, and would have liked the original look to continue beyond 2009. If I remember correctly, the “traditional” look was always popular in the US and was continued as long as it was because of its US popularity, but the UK market increasingly wanted something different and “modern”. Thus the current generation was trying to make the UK market happy, but the comments here and sales trend would suggest it did alienate the American Jag buyer.

  • avatar

    My idea of Heaven is a 1980 Series III XJ6 like the one my best friend’s mom drove. I’ve never been in anything like it since.

    The current Jaguars are generic at best, indistinguishable from anything else on the street. Even if Ian Callum was transported on a DeLorean back to 1980 I doubt he could capture the essence of a real Jaguar.

  • avatar

    XJ-Pace, anyone?

  • avatar

    I like the current XJ and the F-type, the rest aren’t Jags by my reckoning. What ever happened to that cool turbine/generator hybrid Jaguar did? the design was stunning. And, wouldn’t it be col to have your Jag with a jet turbine exhaust note?

  • avatar

    Personally I like the current XJ, its a bold design, low, long, wide, still has those classic Jaguar proportions IMO.

    The last gen and current gen XF, that’s a bunch of suck IMO, looks like a 2007 Lexus GS350, which wasn’t that great of a looking car anyways.

    As for Jaguar making the XJ all electric, well expect nobody to give a fuck or buy one. You are already alienating a huge portion of the buying public by going electric, and those buying a Tesla are looking towards the future, Jaguar is a car that looks to the past in the minds of those people.

    Not only all that mess about marketing and perception, electric cars are horrible on long trips because of the range. People who buy a big $100,000 sedan buy one because they are supremely comfortable on long trips where you might cover 600, 700 miles a day.

  • avatar

    Poor old Jaguar can’t catch a break. They moved on from the old-school, quad-lamp, coke-bottle hipped look of the past with a view towards progress. They wanted to kill the whiff of conservatism and Olde Englande that they had acquired.

    Didn’t work. The globe has its own idea of what Jaguar should be, and is consequently full of people who insist on mounting Jag Leapers on the bonnets of cars that should never have had one – there are Jag XKRs cruising around Florida with Big Cats pouncing from their streamlined hoods.

    The XJ6 doesn’t look like an old Jag – it looks like a New Jag, and I’m all for it, particularly since it reinterprets my favorite part of the original – that menacing, square front grille.

  • avatar

    JAGUAR are right to go electric with the XJ. In order to take on BMW and Mercedes they need something different. If they can steal some of Tesla’s sales along the way they will have got in early enough to do some real damage to Mercedes and co.

  • avatar
    spreadsheet monkey

    Richard Porter of EVO magazine has it right.

    Jaguar has already accepted that is no longer the late 1960s. The customers who actually buy the cars and spend real money also seem pretty happy with the new styling direction.

    • 0 avatar

      Im pretty sure I’m much younger than Richard Porter (who sounds like a lame industry shill in his article). I couldn’t buy a “proper” Jaguar when they were available new because I was fairly young (or unborn) at the time and couldn’t afford it. Now they all look like Kias or PSA products and I have zero interest.

      Anyway, if you like the new Jaguars go buy one (maybe they appeal to aging men like Mr.Porter?), but they aren’t getting any of my money and I hope to see them one day fall on their face.

  • avatar

    The XJ looks like the current Lincoln MKZ and Continental.

  • avatar

    Wow, lots of haters here. Hope some of you are open to another perspective.

    First, nostalgia has its limits. I rented a Jeep Wrangler this week, after casually desiring it for at least a decade. Boy it’s a blunt instrument: awful ergonomics, squishy seats, cramped quarters. You even have to bang the doors harder than in other cars; you generally end up feeling manhandled. High price to pay for the quirky awesomeness that drew me to it. I’m surer now that I’ll never own one.

    So, how many of you would own/ have owned a modern Jag or its counterparts? These appeal to very few, and are designed accordingly. If you find you cannot distinguish the XF, XE or XJ from a BMW or Benz or Lexus, you likely haven’t spent enough time near one – and frankly we owners prefer it that way.

    Jaguar shaped our collective idea of automotive luxury: leather, wood, gadgets and fine lines defined the marque’s saloons back in the 60s, whereas the Germans peddled vinyl and plastic until after Lexus came along. Jag kept moving forward – first fixing quality under Ford, then updating their shapes and tech.

    Moving forward is the best way to honor – and perhaps the only viable way to build upon – a pioneering past. This is why Landies make better Jeeps, and why the F-Type is gaining on the 911.

    Dated stereotypes – like false rumors about Jag reliability – linger, but eventually die. My ’09 XF Super is up to 116k. It’s now a daily driver in New England snow on 18″ winter wheels. Tire & brake pad replacements have been expensive, but those aside I’ve had no major repairs. The car still drives, sounds and rides like new, and there’s almost nothing nicer on the road.

    As for looks and panache – valets at the best hotels still park me out front. Even when the XF is coated with post-snow grime, it’s the shiny E classes that disappear into parking elevators.

    Now back to the XJ: this is the car (XJL Portfolio AWD) I intend to buy this year. Knowing it might be its last year only increases the appeal. Sit in the driver’s and back seat, check out its price, then drive it on back roads and through a big city: you will understand.

    • 0 avatar

      Beautifully written.

      While I’m a huge lover of the old Jaguars, and not just the XJ-6 on (there’s a ’53 saloon for sale on my commute home from work that I just lust over, but I’m nowhere near the mechanic to keep something like that running even on just a show basis), I’m no more in favor of this kind of ossification than I would be to see a constant litany of Tri-Five Chevies or sixties GTO’s constantly in production.

      And I’m always amused that the majority of the crowd who loves to scream, “They don’t make real Jaguars anymore!” have never owned one, new or used. Just like me.

      Then again, the constant whiners on this board can usually be shown to have never owned the model or models of cars they’re so damned opinionated about. And I just love the hypocrisy of the “I don’t buy news cars, let some other fool take the depreciation” crowd ranting on and on about what the manufacturers SHOULD be building. Like your opinion means as much as the money you back it up with.

    • 0 avatar

      “Haters”? To me, the comments board looks like a lot of Jaguar fans to me, from whom Jaguar deliberately moved on. Which may in time prove to be smart thinking on Jaguar’s part, but nobody here has to like it.

      Also, I’m not sure why squishy seats and firm door stops in a current Jeep Wrangler should disprove the entire design concept of a Jeep Wrangler. I think it means *you* don’t like the Jeep Wrangler, but I don’t think you can extrapolate too far beyond that.

      I am glad you and your local valets like the looks of the XF. Not all of us agree. Which I personally think is a good thing, or else all cars would look the same. (Which might seem acceptable to Jaguar’s current styling department, based on a comparison of the XE, XF and XJ, but then again, at least the F-type looks unique.)

      For what it’s worth, I prefer the current XJ to the current XF. (Probably not a surprise, as the cost is quite different. Though the XF does come in an interesting Sportbrake body style.) And I would choose the XJ over a 5-series or E-class.

  • avatar

    Here is what we have been told so far by Jaguar. All Jaguars from 2020 on will have some type of electrification from mild hybrid to full BEV. The XJ will remain the flagship, it will be radically different and one of the drivetrains will be a BEV. That does not preclude an ICE version.

    Will it be a hatch, maybe. Jaguar considers Porsche its prime competition. A Jaguar alternative to the Panamera would make a lot of sense.

    With Ian Callum penning it, the new XJ will be beautiful, fast, luxurious and worthy of the XJ name.

  • avatar

    Jaguar will be gone in 15 years, they have become the modern day Packard, you will understand that if you know what happened to them.

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