Text, photos and video by Cor Steenstra
It is always a true pleasure to drive around in a new Jaguar. It does turn heads, it does leave you with the feeling that you are driving something truly British, true quality, sumptuous luxury. It was no different with the new 2011 Jaguar XJ L, a 4-door fastback sedan in line with the direction Ian Callum is daring Jaguar to go into the future.
Upon first seeing the Jaguar in the flesh I got the uncomfortable feeling that I had seen it before, a long time ago, in the form of the European Ford Scorpio, a daring direction for Ford as a replacement for the conservative Ford Granada. The Scorpio was also a fastback, but in a 5 door guise, with an opening huge lift gate. It was also oddly out of proportion, as if styled in the wrong scale, big enough to make the average man feel drowned.
The XJ L does not do that, though, but it did immediately make us realize that Ian Callum did work at Ford at that very same time frame, and something clearly stuck.
We have been very complimentary of Ian’s influence on the modern Jaguar design language, and therefore it breaks out heart to wonder if Ian really signed off on this one, or if this was pushed through by other forces. There is just something lacking, something amiss with the Jaguar XJ L. On the exterior this is clearly shown in the oddly blacked out D-pillar, which is supposedly connecting the side glass to the rear glass, but is interrupted by the swooping chrome trim around the side glass.
On that same rear the light units are oddly unbalanced to the rest of the design, like a severe afterthought, and the whole rear does not strike us as sophisticated as we are used to seeing from designs coming out of Ian’s studios. It just does not have “it”, and all of Ian’s other creations do.
We were ravingly enthusiastic of the modern interpretation of a Jaguar interior that we found in the XF, with clever use of aluminum and hidden air vents etc. This interior is more a hark back to the jolly good old days of the early 60’s, which doesn’t point into any future direction, but rather seems like intended to draw us back in time. In itself that does not have to be a bad thing, if the exterior design did the same, but since the exterior seems to want to move on from there, the interior has to be in balance with that, much like the XF achieved very excellently.
The conventional air vents, the over usage of wood, the British Rail blue leather trim around the IP combined with the white leather seats with thick black center seem, all seemed a bit too stretched into an era this car clearly never was part of, a Jaguar that has long since changed its brand image.
Looking at the recent radical show car design, it is clear the studio can deliver, and we hope it will have the authority to do so again soon, preferably with a new interpretation of this XJ L.