July 8, 2014
2014 Jaguar XJ L Portfolio AWD. Click image to enlarge
Review and Photos by Jeff Wilson
Occasionally my neighbours will spy me in the driveway hand washing a car that isn’t my own. This is a rare sight since it’s only the truly special ones that warrant this manual labour – the rest get the quick wash treatment in the do-it-yourself bays or the touchless automated car washes at the gas station.
With having at least one or two cars a week that need to be washed for photography and often again before returning to the manufacturer, time simply doesn’t allow the royal treatment for just any car.
But some deserve better. Some deserve the effort and time spent lovingly caressing the shapes and curves that designers unencumbered by shoestring budgets, passenger accommodation or heartless engineering committees have produced.
Not surprisingly, every Jaguar I’ve brought home has earned the gentle touch of my lathered wash mitt.
This car – a 2014 XJ L 3.0 AWD – is worth parking in the driveway instead of the garage simply to show off for the neighbours, let alone washing it. It is a big car; an impression that does not fully register until a second or two after walking up to it and allowing your eyes to scan the full scale of its proportions. At over 5,200 mm in length between nose and tail, the L trim is stretched 80 mm versus the standard XJ.
The size contributes considerably to the Jaguar royal leader’s commanding presence, as does the imposing grille and low, sensually sweeping arc of a roofline.
When parked in front of a bank (how fitting), I came out a few minutes later to find three construction workers who had abandoned an adjacent work site to ogle the big Jag. All agreed after peering through the glass that it is indeed something special. Due to their relative popularity (and hence lack of exclusivity), I am certain no S-Class or 7 Series would elicit the same reaction.
Despite my obvious love for the look of Jaguar’s flagship, I must confess that the curious black panel C-pillars still do not work for me, especially contrasting with the chrome and crisp, milky Polaris white paint. No one else I informally polled seemed bothered by it, so what do I know?
All this fashion afforded by the lithe profile does require a few interior compromises. For one, ingress and egress compels some cautious contortion to avoid cracking one’s head in a most undignified way on the roof. And once ensconced in the luxurious trappings of the XJ’s heated, cooled and massaging front seats, headroom is not generous even for my average 5’9” frame.
If you’re freakishly tall (such as anyone over 5’10”) and carry most of your height in your legs, you would do well to choose one of the XJ L’s rear seats instead of the front. There you can truly stretch out, and when equipped as my test car is with a $7,750 Premium Rear Executive Package, you can recline, chill your backside whilst having it kneaded by robotic fingers and watch your favourite movie on the 10.2” LCD screens affixed to the backs of the front headrests.
The rich Berber will make you want to slip off your shoes. Indeed, the cabin of an XJ L is a splendid place to luxuriate for a while. With that said, I must add that I do miss the old walnut picnic tables for rear seat passengers; this new car has larger (and more practical) leather covered desktops.
2014 Jaguar XJ L Portfolio AWD dashboard, shifter & HVAC controls, rear screen & tray. Click image to enlarge
As with all Jaguars, many of the interior surfaces are swathed in supple and fragrant hides. The rest of the touchables are finished in other exotic alloys or luxurious woods – or in this case – carbon fibre weave. The overall design too, is splendid with the central dash topped by two imposing circular vents.
If there is a downside to the XJ’s interior, it is the same woeful infotainment system that plagues the full Jaguar and Land Rover lineup. Although operation of the system is not overly taxing, neither is it as user friendly or as capable as the contemporary systems in the equivalent German or Japanese marques’ machines. Further, the screen is comparatively small and dull versus the industry best too. The equally dull LCD screen that portrays traditional-style gauges is gimmicky at best and rather out of place. Proper dials would be a more classic and appropriate touch.
It should be noted that the $2,500 Meridian 825 watt surround sound system produces clear and powerful sound with a broad dynamic range. Your favourite musical tracks shall be even more enjoyable thanks to the XJ L’s remarkable sound suppression too. Those who ride only in an XJ shall never know the unpleasantness of road and wind noise since they are nearly completely absent.