I am driving through the rural countryside in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario from behind the wheel of the 2016 Jaguar XJ AWD. That in itself is a source of excitement, but this particular vehicle is the full-size “L” Portfolio model. I call it icing on the cake and in this case the cake is coloured in classic Ammonite Grey. With burled wood accents and 19” Toba alloy wheels underfoot, the winding highways of charmed Niagara are particularly engaging on this day.
Power comes in the form of a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 gasoline engine. It delivers a responsive 340 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 332 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500-5,000 rpm. Matched to an 8-speed automatic transmission with “S” mode capability and steering-wheel mounted paddle-shifters, it accelerates to 100 km/h in 6.4 seconds and reaches an electronically limited top speed in Canada of 195 km/h on all-season tires.
All-wheel drive makes it easy to cruise at a rapid pace in any type of weather and on all road surfaces. Stops are swift and carefree with excellent brakes and the latest in ABS advancements. The headlights point where I drive, shadowing the movements of the steering wheel. Intelligent start/stop is still a feature I must become comfortable with, but it works well in the 2016 Jaguar XJL AWD. I also appreciate the fact the car turns off automatically when I unbuckle the seat belt; though I must admit the first time it happened, I was a little surprised and thought something was wrong.
The Jaguar XJL is in one word- long. It has the potential to drive and feel like a boat. But car control in today’s automobiles is as much about aerodynamic efficiencies as it is suspension tuning and tires; just ask a professional race car driver the next time you see one. And while changes to the outward shape won’t affect zero-100 km/h times in the same way as raw power and torque, reshaping airflow, no matter how minor, provides a sense of balance and speed best explained by getting in, buckling up and heading out. This boat cuts through the air with ease.
What I enjoy most about driving the 2016 Jaguar XJL AWD is the ease with which I can maneuver this most elegant of felines. Everyone who sees it comments on how long and slender it looks. From the outside it appears to take up a whole city block with its low slung roofline, elongated hood, muscular wheel arches and tight rear quarters. Featured in classic grey, it blends with the Henley Regatta bridge adding to the metallic mystique.
Put yourself in the driver’s seat, however, push the start button then engage “D” or “S” via the round shift knob and the world around you suddenly shrinks. What is first perceived as being overly large is suddenly nimble and tight, charging through corners and confined spaces with the ease of a cat on the prowl.
Inside, the occupant experience is markedly sophisticated and pleasing for all. Virtual instruments are the first clue something unique awaits those who take hold of the leather-wrapped steering wheel. Front seats offer exceptional support and adjustment, while the back seats, though somewhat less lavish with their controls, are no less comfortable to sit in. Individual climate control settings are available in all four corners. Chrome accents are scattered throughout, thick side-window glass, soft close doors and premium audio sounds are just some of the built in features that define elegance as only Jaguar can.
If there are a few bones to pick with this most-luxurious sedan, it’s that most of the rear trunk storage space has been taken up in the passenger compartment. There is still a good amount of space, but the low-slung entry doesn’t allow for boxes or other items much taller than a suitcase. And, chrome on the dash, door panels and elsewhere is certainly elegant, but on a bright sunny day it can be very distracting. Wear your sunglasses inside and out.
The 2016 Jaguar XJL AWD is everything you expect from the English automaker and more. Refined and roadworthy, it is part of the reason why Jaguar is once again the exciting brand many of us remember from past glory days. In this case, you can have your cake and eat it too; one intoxicating bite at a time.
2016 Jaguar XJL
Trim level: Portfolio AWD
Price as tested (before taxes): $109,375.00
Configuration: front-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.0L 6-cylinder/ 8-speed automatic
Power/torque: 340 hp/ 332 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): regular (82L)
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): city: 14.1, hwy: 9.3 L/100 Km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 12.1 L/100 km
Warranties: 4-years/80,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS, Maserati Quattroporte, Mercedes-Benz S-Class.