Engine downsizing is getting very common these days and even luxury car manufacturers who have traditionally had big V6 and V8 engines have embraced the practice. However, these engines seem to have eluded the full-size Mercedes S-Class/BMW 7 Series luxury car segment so far. Until now, of course.
Jaguar is one of the very few automakers who have replaced their entry-level normally-aspirated 3.0 litre V6 engine with a turbocharged four-cylinder for their flagship, the XJ. Its German counterparts have done the same for their smaller class of cars, but to date, they have maintained large normally-aspirated six-cylinder engines for the entry-level versions of their flagships. Yes, Audi has a 2.0 litre motor in the A8 hybrid, but that’s packaged as a hybrid. So for now, the Jaguar XJ L 2.0 Ti is truly unique in its class.
This 2.0 litre turbocharged motor is familiar. It’s used in the smaller XF, as well as other JLR products with ‘Si4’ badging such as the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Freelander. You’ll also find it in Ford products such as the Ford Focus ST and the Ford Mondeo. In Jaguar’s application, it’s mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.
On paper, the 2.0 litre displacement might put you off. But the engine allows the big cat to be rapid enough, with its 240 PS and 340 Nm of torque providing thrust much earlier than in the outgoing V6 engine. The XJ feels a lot lighter sprinting around the neighbourhood compared to, say, the sluggish 3.0 litre V6 in the S300L, and the 100 km/h sprint takes just 7.5 seconds.
Compare that to the 8.2 seconds of the Mercedes-Benz. The BMW 730Li with a similar ZF eight-speed gearbox and way higher road tax cost because of its bigger displacement and more cylinders just matches the XJ’s 7.5 second figure.
At RM638,888 it’s the cheapest in the range too. However, it does so at some expense. Being the most affordable car in the XJ L range here in Malaysia, some options that we’ve come to expect in this segment in Malaysia have been left unticked. The most glaring omission is the lack of any kind of seat adjustability in the rear quarters. The rear bench is fixed.
Because there are no controls for the rear seats, this also means that in the boss chair, you can’t control the front passenger seat yourself to suit your comfort. The 2.0 Ti model also doesn’t get the 825 W Meridian Surround Sound audio system that its better-equipped siblings get, making do with a 250 W Jaguar Sound system instead.
With this being a full-sized car that’s normally chauffeur-driven in Malaysia, I also arranged to be driven in the back seat to see how things would go. With the XJ tuned to be a little more on the dynamic side of things, the rear bench proved to be a little nauseating on the badly-constructed highways of Malaysia.
The same stretch of NKVE – where I can normally work on my laptop in the rear seat with no issues in an S300L – made me feel a little sick in the Jaguar because of all the high-frequency undulations that were coming through into the cabin. I had no idea the Merc’s AIRMATIC was taking care of all of that!
The view from the driver’s seat is fantastic though, and so is the exterior. Doing a double take when you see this car going past is a must. The front half of the interior can be described as very well embellished – plenty of wood and chrome in all the right places, and that retro-futuristic theme works extremely well. That steering wheel is a delight to hold.
The instrument panel is completely digital, so the displays can vary and show plenty of information, which is a nice touch, but I wish that the resolution on these screens would be upped a little. The same applies to the touchscreen infotainment system.
Car companies should take note that a low-resolution reverse camera feed can really spoil an interior when active. We’re all too used to looking at our iPad Retina and 1080p smartphone screens these days.
The XJ has notable agility through the bends, feeling like a smaller class of car, thanks to its light aluminium chassis, good steering feel and well-tuned dampers. The gearbox could have been tuned to be a bit more aggressive though, as shifts remained relatively slow even with the Jaguar Drive Control’s sportiest mode selected.
But seriously – 2.0 litre four-cylinder power works in this class of cars, especially when there’s plenty of budget to cancel out vibrations and any undesirable four-cylinder sound from intruding the cabin. Jaguar’s rivals should just follow suit and get rid of their antiquated normally-aspirated 3.0 litre lumps.