Until recently, Jaguar seemed to be living in the past. Take the S-Type for example. It had its styling cues and themes lifted straight out of the iconic Mark II. The S-Type's styling inside and out was too retro to most tastes and the mid-sized Jag was a disaster for the Coventry car maker. Jaguar has always thought that its customers were into English tea, shortbread and Cliff Richard but the matter of fact is that they were more into Coldplay and modern appliances like HD TVs.
Jaguar finally listened when it introduced the beautiful XK a couple of years back but it was the S-Type's replacement, the revolutionary XF that helped the brand get back on its feet and to properly attempt to regain back its former glory. With the XF showing the way for the brand to succeed, Jaguar applied the same ‘No more retro, it's the new Jaguar' philosophy to the new generation XJ that was launched last year.
With styling signed off by Ian Callum, who gave us design greats like the Aston Martin DB7 and DB9, as well as the XF and the recent C-X75 concept, the XJ itches its predecessor's retro inspired looks for a more modern and contemporary feel. Up front, the shapely headlamps and the rectangular grille give it a distinctive face even though the long bonnet and snout somehow reminds me of the Maserati Quattroporte. The power vents on the front wings are now a standard feature on all Jaguar models and give it a muscular touch. Things get more interesting as you approach the rear. The sloping rear screen gives the car a sleek and coupe like profile that gives it a distinctive and sporty silhouette.
While the XF is at its prettiest when looked at from the rear three quarter, the XJ's rump isn't as successful. The rearmost pillars are blackened to further accentuate the car's sleek profile but the wraparound tail lamps and the boot lid somehow give the XJ's rear end a distinctive but slightly heavy look.
All in all, the new generation XJ looks like no other Jaguar saloon models before it and is certainly distinctive when compared to the likes of the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series. It has presence like a big limo should but only time will tell if the design is as timeless as the conservatively styled XJ generations of old.