Jaguar's XJ luxury saloon has won more than 20 awards in the year or so since the first examples rolled off the Birmingham production line. The latest came in January, when the readers of BusinessCar magazine voted it Best Luxury Car: settle into the soft leather seat to take an XJ for a drive and you soon see why.
The cabin is light and airy thanks to the glass roof which is standard on all XJs, and the interior trim combines wood veneer, leather, piano black and polished metal surfaces in an attractive and elegant style. As on the smaller Jaguar XF the conventional gear selector is replaced by a rotary knob which rises from the centre console when you start the engine. Changing gear by turning a dial sounds odd but works very well. The instruments are another novelty: mechanical dials have gone, and in their place is a computer-generated display which changes to show the most useful information at any moment.
The most powerful engine available is Jaguar's familiar supercharged V8 which offers 510bhp, giving the big XJ saloon performance to humble many a sports car – aided by the lightweight aluminium construction of the body. But even the entry level engine choice, a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged diesel, has a healthy 275bhp output and notable refinement – and the potential to exceed 40mpg. All the XJ models blend a silky ride with composed, confident handling.
There's a lot to like about the Jaguar XJ, as that roster of awards confirms. Add prices which undercut key German rivals across the board, and it looks even more like a winner.