First Drive: 2016 Jaguar XJ Autobiography LWB

Reviews

What’s new?

Autobiography is a trim level borrowed from Jaguar's sister company Land Rover. You'll find it gracing top-level Range Rovers, so right off the bat you know this XJ is going to come laden with the finest in luxury goodies. The fact that it's only available in long-wheelbase reiterates that this is no everyman's saloon. This is for people who might not even spend any time in the front.

Wireless headphones and headrest-mounted media screens are among the spec highlights, especially for anyone who can pay someone else to take care of the driving business for them. But even then, automation takes care of parking in bays and parallel spaces. The systems will get you out of spaces as well.

Looks and image

The XJ carries less stern sobriety than its German rivals, choosing instead to go down a softer route. It has gentler lines that hide its sheer size, from a distance at least, or until you spot one next to a car you used to think was big. It looks great on the move, and most importantly it's not an identi-copy of the heritage-rich cars it competes against.

The long profile, large wheels and sleek silhouette all speak of prestige and power. It's impossible to travel anywhere in this car without people knowing it cost a lot of money, and that's exactly the sort of image buyers will look for.

Space and practicality

The boot could be better designed. Despite being pretty big, the thickly-soundproofed wheel arches intrude heavily and there's a small step up over the oily bits between the two driven wheels. The access aperture is nice and big, though, with a long boot lid revealing the generous space within.

Inside the car the soft-grain perforated leather upholstery isn't the most practical for, say, kids, but it's clearly an aesthetic choice for well-heeled adults. Few XJ Autobiographies will serve as family cars.

The one real niggle is that the front seats are flat-backed right to the floor, meaning that pointy-shoed executives in the back can't make as much use of the space as they'd like. Shorter cars with big under-seat gaps actually feel like they have more legroom.

Behind the wheel

More torque than the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 in the XJR. It may be hard to believe, but that's the 3.0-litre V6 diesel's party piece. It pulls like a train right up to speeds so silly the police would bypass jail altogether and drop you off at the psychiatric ward. It's so smooth with it, too, with silky shifts from the eight-speed automatic gearbox and minimal vibration. Its handling is balanced and, while the car's weight is inescapable, it corners with conviction and stability.

The seats are chunky and comfortable, with heating and cooling for all four, and four-zone climate control. A Meridian Reference 1,300W stereo system offers surround sound and the best audio quality available in cars.

Value for money

Almost £80,000 before options is proper money, and customers looking at this end of the XJ scale will judge value by the image boost they will perceive when sitting in it – or when others see it. Its Britishness is a bonus in this country, but when the 7 Series and S-Class are so good for passengers, this is a tough category.

Who would buy one?

Executives looking for a car both to drive and to be driven in will find the big Jag perfect. It's a lovely set of wheels from the driver's seat, and it's more than comfy enough to be admirable VIP transport. Autobiography brings creature comforts that will be worth it to the right buyer.

This car summed up in a single word: Rounded

If this car was a…: politician he would have flaws but would be the guy you voted for just because you want to like him.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

Jaguar XJ Autobiography LWB, from £79,600

Engine: 3.0-litre turbodiesel producing 296bhp and 516lb/ft

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic driving the rear wheels

Performance: Top speed 155mph, 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds

Economy: 48.0mpg combined

Emissions: 155g/km

Jaguar

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