Test Drive: 2012 Jaguar XJ car test drives reviews luxury cars jaguar
2012 Jaguar XJL Portfolio. Click image to enlarge
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Manufacturer’s web site
Jaguar Canada

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

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2012 Jaguar XJ

The minute I overheard Mike booking the Jaguar XJ, I was all over him claiming seniority, begging to trade, and just generally being a nuisance until he caved and agreed to let me drive and review this full-size luxury sedan (didn’t hurt that he was offered a BMW M6 on the same week). I have a thing for this big Jag that is both inexplicable and yet perfectly natural. After all, I like pretty things.

And while I am nowhere near the income range or demographic typical of an XJ owner, it suits my commute and lifestyle better than, say, a pickup truck. And while I only had a short work-week to enjoy its commuting bliss, it was just about everything I expected from this storied brand.

Test Drive: 2012 Jaguar XJ car test drives reviews luxury cars jaguar
2012 Jaguar XJL Portfolio. Click image to enlarge

I have also been itching to review the XJ of this generation, first launched in 2009, since the redesign that afforded the XJ a look befitting its aluminum bodywork—incidentally, 50 percent of that structure is from recycled materials. The lightweight alloy allows it to keep its weight in the 1,700–1,800 kg weight range when normally aspirated, and never over 2,000 kg. I was driving the extended-wheelbase XJL, which measures 5,248 mm (206.6 in) long, with a 3,157-mm (124.3-in.) wheelbase, weighing in at 1,874 kg (4,131 kg). This car is huge. But compare that weight with similarly sized S-Class or 7 Series sedans that start at over 2,000 kg (4,410 lb.), even for short-wheelbase models, both also topping out at over 2,200 kg (5,000 lb). The Audi A8, also using aluminum spaceframe platform, still comes in at a minimum 2,000 kilos.

Test Drive: 2012 Jaguar XJ car test drives reviews luxury cars jaguar
2012 Jaguar XJL Portfolio. Click image to enlarge

But how that aluminum wraps around those four wheels is what truly separates the Jaguar from the Germans and even Lexus. While the BMW and Mercedes are distinguished, elegant and the Audi A8 appearing more futuristic, the XJ is simply beautiful, though it is a bit of a, um, stretch in XJL trim. Though the leaper is gone from the hood, the rectangular chrome mesh grille and sculpted, swept-back headlights and sporty 19-inch 10-spoke wheels create a hungry, eager look, and the additional dashes of chrome in the lower intakes fender, window surround, tailpipes, and rear bumper strip are the perfect level of flash to denote class rather that crass.

The rear three-quarter view should make designers of all those so-called ‘four-door coupes’ jealous, with a roofline and C pillar that flow into the trunk with a liquid grace, and the rear taillights wrap over top of the rear deck and point into the shoulder line. My only qualm is with the painted section of C pillar, which is almost unnoticeable on this dark grey sedan, but stands out in awkward fashion on more vivid colours. The Jag ‘leaper’ logo does make an appearance on the trunk, in a raised chrome badge on the trunk rather than the original full hood ornament of years gone by.




About Jonathan Yarkony

Jonathan Yarkony is the Senior Editor for Autos.ca, a Brampton-based automotive writer with eight years of experience evaluating cars and an AJAC member.