One Elle of a car
KEVIN HEPWORTH purrs about the new Jaguar
THE Body has come face to face with the Cat, and come off second best. Invited by Jaguar to help launch its new luxury XJ sedan, supermodel Elle Macpherson turned up wearing a gold mini-dress that left little to the imagination, but she still took a back seat to Jaguar’s new topof-the-line model.
The new XJ is a radical step away from the car that has been Jaguar’s apex predator for the past 40 years.
Borrowing from the successful XF, it looks fresh and contemporary with styling Jaguar Australia boss David Blackhall says equals that of its German rivals.
‘‘We all know the market is very competitive, but we are now on terms, styling-wise, for the first time in a long, long time,’’ Blackhall says.
‘‘Some say the XJ hasn’t changed its styling since 1968 . . . well, now we have— and you can see (designer) Ian Callum has touched every panel.’’
With the new look comes a new self-worth reflected in a top-end strategy that would have made Jaguar a laughing stock with the old model.
Blackhall confirmed the supercharged version of the XJ — the Supersport — would be stalking Porsche’s new four-door Panamera and Maserati’s Quattroporte.
‘‘If you think about the supercharged car as having similar performance, competitive pricing and styling that some people would think more attractive, there may well be an opportunity for us at that end of the market,’’ Blackhall says.
Jaguar has retained its industry lead in the use of aerospace-inspired aluminium body technology, giving the new XJ a 150kg weight advantage over its rivals.
The new cars will have air suspension, adaptive dynamics (continuously variable damping), active differential control and quick-ratio power steering.
There will be a choice of four engines — all driving through a sixspeed automatic — and all will make it to Australia despite Blackhall’s desire to limit the model’s complexity.
‘‘We don’t want a lot of complexity. To be honest we couldn’t handle that in our market,’’ Blackhall says.
‘‘The range for Australia will run fairly close to the current experience.’’
The V6 diesel is the company’s proven 202kW twin-turbo 3.0-litre. The naturally aspirated offering will be a 5-litre V8 with 283kW and a 0-100km/h time of 5.7 seconds.
At the top of the tree is the fullworks supercharged V8 with 375kW and a 0-100km/h sprint of 4.9 seconds.
The new XJ goes on sale here in March, starting in the low $200,000s.