Jaguar XJ review
So you've got to the top of the pile, but you are still having to do plenty of driving. In steps the Jaguar XJ - £65,000 worth of motor car complete with enough toys to keep any CEO or Chairman happy. Of course if you've really made it, and we mean "liquid", then it's probably worth noting that the XJ isn't for you. The toys may be plentiful, but there aren't many in the back of the bus, so to speak.
Yes, there is plenty of leg room, yes there are screens in the back of the headsets - that combined with the Bluetooth enabled headphones let you watch TV, DVDs or any movie or TV show as long as it is in a common file format - but for the most part the toys and fun are situated at the hands of the driver.
But before we get to the cockpit, what of the outside?
Following Jaguar's current design ethos, the Jaguar XJ is a sleek car that is surprisingly large. This is of course a motor that is considerably bigger than the XK, or the XF, a hippopotamus in fact, but like a hippo; hidden beneath that wallowing behemoth is an agile beast that can move, and when she wants to, move she does.
We tested the Jaguar XJ on the road and on the track. Our track experience of the XJ against the XF and XK wasn't something we would want to write home about. It was sloppy if we were being nice. However, let's face it - while we all pretend to want to take cars onto the track, when was the last time you made it out on to a circuit?
Luckily then the XJ is actually an incredibly lovely ride on the road, letting you glide your way along virtually any road surface with little interference, regardless of road condition - bumpy or smooth. Combine this with the large leather armchair that is your seat, the wood veneer, and the luxury interior and you would be forgiven for thinking that you were sitting in a Headmaster's office in a fine English public school.
Heck the only thing missing to complete the experience is a large ticking clock - you'll have to make do with a small noiseless one instead.
Of course you'll soon get bored of your rather sumptuous surroundings and look to alleviate your boredom with some toys. Luckily, as we've said already, the Jaguar XJ has plenty. Take the seat for example. You don't just get bum warmers, but a full massage with various settings to give you a full work out when you're stuck in traffic.
Then there is the steering wheel that has probably too many buttons, but one caught our eye - the heated steering wheel one - if those early starts and a cold steering wheel are too much for you - the XJ has you covered.
But it's not just about heating and massages. There's the touchscreen interface that runs all the toys as well as the dashboard that is one big swish monitor, detailing specs and other information as you zip along. Dials are dead here. That monitor is in fact a 12.3-inch LCD display that replaces the conventional dials you would normally expect. What that means is that the information can dynamically change depending on what you are doing.
One example of this is the torch mode that will highlight on the speedometer, not only your actual speed, but the 10 below and the 10 above so you can quickly see what range of speed you are doing. Other implementations include a dynamic setting mode. Aside from changing the driving experience, stiffening up the suspension and relaxing some of the automatic electronic driving aids, the dashboard changes red to allow you to instantly tell you're in that mode, not that you'll need any further help, the seatbelt tightens and the car acts a little more precariously.
But it's not just about letting you know your speed or that you are seeing red. GPS turn prompts are also displayed as well as other information like driving performance, settings menus and so forth. It's like having a dedicated software package at the heart of your car rather than just a dial that moves when you put your foot down.
Drag your eyes from the main dash and you've got an 8-inch touchscreen display that is your command centre. It's rather like a tablet, and here you can manage the GPS, those massages, DAB radio functionality, audio, visual, and just about anything you can think of. An optional extra, but one that will save you ever having to talk to your co-pilot is a the dual view mode television.
Before you panic that you'll be watching episodes of Dragon's Den on the way home, as the driver you won't be able to watch anything. Using rather clever technology developed about 5 years ago, Jaguar has implemented a screen that allows you as a driver to see one image, and your passenger another. That means while you get a GPS map, they get the Jeremy Kyle show.
It's not just about screens and displays. Jaguar has turned to Bowers & Wilkins to create a 20 speaker surround sound system in the car that will knock your socks off. After connecting our iPhone via Bluetooth, we played a series of tracks from classical to hip hop to test the system out. It coped with all of it in spades.
Other elements of note in the cockpit are the sheer lack of a gear stick for the automatic models - it's a now standard dial across the Jaguar range that pops up and down when you need it, and a power on system that ditches the need for a cumbersome key in your pocket.
Elsewhere in the car you'll get a panoramic sunroof with electrically operated blinds, a powered boot to stop you getting dirty hands (oh, the horror) and interior mood lighting to make you feel better. The list goes on.
With pricing starting at £53,900 for the V3.0 Diesel Luxury model if you are looking to scrimp and save, going up to £91,000 for the long wheelbased (you'll get an extra 125cm in the back) V5.0 supersport with all the toys this isn't a car for those on a budget.
The good thing is that if you're really got to that stage in the boardroom where you need to be pampered, but not enough that you want to take the back seat, this is certainly a car to let you do that. Jaguar has managed to create a floating wood panelled office here and one that shrugs of the images of old.