Borrowing traits from the new Jaguar aesthetic first demonstrated on the XF sedan, the 2010 XJ is definitely not stuck in the past. Details reminiscent of the Aston Martin Rapide are also evident, though the XJ's long lines and expansive profile are unique enough to set the car apart at a glance.
A low, sloping roofline gives the XJ a four-door coupe look, while the black D-pillar gives a 'floating roof' effect from the rear, and a huge glass sunroof lets abundant light into the cabin to help improve the sense of space and counter the low-slung roof. The rear is sure to draw both fans and critics; its vertical tail lights and tall deck are love-'em or hate-'em details.
Inside, the decidedly stuffy interior of the current XJ is replaced with a much more modern cockpit featuring a pop-up transmission control interface, laser-inlaid wood trim, a leather headliner and a new instrument panel that abandons traditional dials in favor of a high-definition screen that displays all the information the driver needs. A unique feature enabled by the new high-def instrument panel is a soft red glow used to indicate performance driving modes.
Under the hood, the new V8 found in the XF will be the central player, though Europeans will also get a 3.0L V6 turbodiesel. The 5.0L V8 engine will be available in a naturally-aspirated base form rated at 385hp, while a supercharged variant will pump out 470hp and an even higher-performance 510hp version for the Supersport edition will also be available.
Only one transmission - a paddle-shifted six-speed auto - will be available, hustling the standard XJ to 60mph in 5.4 seconds, or slingshotting the Supersport version to the same speed in a mere 4.7 seconds. Suspension dynamics are controlled via air springs, with computer-controlled settings of Normal, Dynamic and Winter.
Like its predecessor, the new XJ makes extensive use of aluminum, weighing in at a mere 3,800lb in its lightest trim or up to 4,300lb at its heaviest. That's still 500-1000lbs lighter than most of the competition. The combination of light weight and a powerful engine will make for a solid performer but also for surprisingly good fuel economy if our experience with the current-gen XJ Super V8 is any indication.
The new XJ can be ordered now with sales to officially open in December for early 2010 delivery. Prices start from an MSRP of $72,500 for the base 5.0L V8, $87,500 for the XJ Supercharged and from $112,000 for the XJ Supersport.