Jaguar's flagship sedan, the XJ celebrates its 50th birthday this year. The big cat's major evolutionary changes only happened this century, and clinging on to the same basic formula for over three decades has given the XJ this classic, old-school British image.
Back in the day, the XJ was quite cramped compared to its roomier German competitors. But in 2003 it grew bigger and adopted an aluminum monocoque architecture, though its styling remained pretty much the same.
Ian Callum eventually gave the car a styling makeover, adopting the same design first seen in the first-generation XF. While some felt this change was too big a jump, sales actually recovered. Looking at this vehicle, it's hard to believe it's already been around for eight years.
Now, Jaguar has just revealed the XJ50. As the name suggests, it's a special-edition model to celebrate the British luxury sedan's big five-O. It's available in standard length and long-wheelbase bodies with a sporty black mesh grille, more elegant Autobiography-style front and rear bumpers, and a set of sharp-looking 20-inch Venom alloy wheels. Special badging on the side fender vents and rear are there to remind people what this special Jag is called.
We already know the XJ's interior is quite luxurious, and the Coventry-based carmaker takes it a step further by giving it exclusive diamond-quilted seats which feature headrests embossed with the trademark leaper. Anodized paddle shifters and chrome pedals further set it apart from regular variants. More XJ50 badging appears on the car, specifically the center armrest and its illuminated scuff plates.
Two engines are offered: a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 gasoline mill which pumps out 335hp and 450Nm of torque, and a 3.0-liter V6 diesel which makes 296hp and 700Nm of torque. Both powerplants are mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.
Jag's flagship sedan has gone a long way. From a fairly small original model to the current tech-laden ride which is about the size of the classic full-size 420G of the '60s. With the world shifting to SUVs, let's hope the XJ will still have more birthdays to celebrate.