Motoring: The XJ, a Jag for all seasons

United Arab Emirates, January 14, 2018

IS THAT A F-Type?' a captivated family member asked, admittedly from distance after we'd parked up this week's test. It could have been a result of the Jaguar XJ Premium Luxury model we were exiting was exactly the same colour as Amazon Prime's motoring show the Grand Tour's new Jaguar F-Type in which they allow celebrities to race around their track, but actually we think the reason for the mistaken identity runs deeper. Despite its saloon trappings, the XJ has sporting pretentions and this makes it very interesting for someone in the market for a car, which can tick all the boxes. Will it impress the neighbours? Yes (in Dubai this question often comes first). Will I enjoy driving it? Yes. Does it double as a people-carrier, shopping delivery van and swanky limousine your friends or family will want to be seen in. Absolutely it does. So, what else does it do?

We like the way you move
Firmly planted but with Goldilocks suspension, i.e. not too hard, nor too soft for a beautifully comfortable ride, for everyday use gliding this car to and fro is something we got used to very quickly. Navigating a roundabout was like piloting a small craft on a gentle curve in frictionless outer space before sling-shotting your way out of orbit by putting your foot down to accelerate into the galaxy's far reaches. Flicking the switch to sports mode only intensified this hyper-drive sensation, firming everything up and getting the most out of that three-litre supercharged V6.

To infinity and beyond
Once in sports mode, the eight-speed transmission worked a treat, each gear being worked to its upper limit before switching. It was at this point, aside from the cosmetic, the car's shared DNA with such models as the F-Type became apparent. A top speed of 250km/h and a 0-100km/h time of 5.9 seconds may not be absolutely staggering in supercar terms, but for what is ostensibly a family car, it is stellar.

Keeping one's head
So the noise is blaring from the engine and the scenery is starting to zip by at an increasing rate, but does any of this give you the slightest worry? Of course not, you're in a Jaguar. The noise from the motor is more a throaty operatic warble and, such is the refinement of the interior, the only thing that should get you flustered is the thought you're going to have to go home soon. The soft feel leather seats swaddle you in a sofa-like coziness and you actually begin to enjoy longer trips.

Any out of the ordinary features?
Nothing you wouldn't expect from a car in this class. We liked the four-zone climate control and the sliding panoramic roof. The retractable lid made the difference on the way back from a day out in the sun. The cool night air whistling through was a delight. The central screen interface with its red London phone box graphic to denote the car's communication menu feature always raises a smile.

What's it like price-wise?
An entry level XJ starts from Dhs303,700. The Premium Edition starts from Dhs340,400 and the one we tested came in at Dhs388,400 with all the extras including rear seat entertainment and a heated steering wheel. Whether the extras are necessary or not will depend on you, but we did like the 360-degree surround parking camera system.

Car in brief
Engine: 3-litre supercharged V6
Top speed: 250km/h
0-100km/h: 5.9 seconds
Price: From Dhs303,700