The Jaguar XJ, a slinky lineage of high-end saloons known for shuttling around British PMs, fictional heads of MI6, and The Equalizer, might not be around for much longer. At least not in the manner we’re used to seeing it.
British publication Autocar claims the automaker plans to spring a wholly new, “reinvented” flagship model on us before too long, and it won’t have an inline-six, V8, or V12 under the hood. It won’t use any gas at all. Nor will it remain a sedan.
Looking around at today’s vehicular landscape, it may be the only way to save the XJ.
According to the shadowy source ofÂ Autocar‘s information, it seems Jaguar still wants a flagship in this era of hot-selling F-Pace SUVs and shrinking large sedan sales. However, it also wants a technological halo car. It’s a strategy we’ve seen followed by several high-end automakers, but the car being replaced (or supplemented with) is usually never a legend. And that the XJ is.
Appearing in 1968 and soon replacing the girthy and slow-selling Mark X as the marque’s flagship, the model’s styling cues and overall silhouette didn’t completely fade to history until the release of the radically revamped current generation in 2009. Along the way, the XJ line ditched its famed inline-six and less-revered V12 engines, adopted aluminum architecture, and fell in love with V6 and V8 powerplants.
Also along the way, premium buyers gravitated elsewhere. While 2017 was the brand’s best sales year in the U.S. and on a global scale, it wasn’t because of the popularity of the XJ. Sales of the range-topping sedan fell 29 percent in the U.S. last year. Volume is half of what it was in 2013, and a quarter of what Jaguar recorded 2004.
It’s no wonder people whispered about whether the XJ had a future at all.
Now we hear the next XJ will appear late this year and go on sale in 2019, earlier than some predictions, as a purely electric car. While the sedan-like profile is said to remain, the model gains five-door practicality in its future iteration.
Interestingly, the Ian Callum-designed car is said to ditch the styling cues of the previous generation, creating a new design direction for the marque. It’s alleged the new model sufficiently impressed top brass in Coventry. Besides these scant details, the model’s capabilities, including range, remain a mystery. However, expect plenty of I-Pace technology to find its way into the XJ.
Jaguar’s upcoming all-wheel-drive electric crossover makesÂ 400 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque from two motors, with a battery pack sufficient for 220 miles of range.
Developed with the Tesla Model S buyer in mind, an electric XJ would also allow the well-heeled to virtue signal their way past top-flight BMW and Mercedes-Benz buyers. As well, Europe’s increasingly strict regulatory environment means a de-emissioned Jag could soon be the only way for Anglophiles to put on airs and not find themselves banned from entering city centers.
Hardcore Brits might shake their head, but traditional passenger cars are in serious danger. Survival often means sacrilege.
[Images: Jaguar Land Rover]