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Jaguar’s XJ sedan will live on as a hybridized luxury elite

2016 Jaguar XJ
2016 Jaguar XJ
A few months ago, news broke that Jaguar had decided the XJ wouldn’t live on past its present generation. The U.K. automaker’s flagship sedan has sold reasonably well, but reportedly the brand had new, grander visions for an estate replacement.

Now Autocar is reporting that executives have changed their minds and will instead reinvent the XJ instead of completely scrapping the model. That reinvention will include mixed-material construction (aluminum and carbon fiber), a newly developed V6 hybrid powertrain, advanced interior and safety technology, and a totally overhauled cabin.

The reborn XJ will arrive in dealerships in the second half of 2019 after a concept version debuts the year prior to celebrate the XJ’s 50th anniversary.

Among ideas of how to repurpose the XJ, some leaders within the company imagined a new luxury SUV like the Range Rover Sport (obviously with a Jaguar badge). Worse for the XJ’s future were questions about the viability of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class rival at all. Even at 20,000 XJ sales per year, S-Class and BMW 7 Series sales far exceed Jaguar’s numbers. Then there’s the new Jaguar XF, which has grown a bit in size, is based on the company’s latest aluminum platform, and wears a new face (borrowed from the XE’s styling). This led some within the brand to suggest the XJ wasn’t distinguished enough from the midsize model.

“Proper luxury brands have to have an indulgent car in there somewhere,” Jaguar lead designer Ian Callum said. “We’ve got two: the XJ and the F-Type. If you want the room of an XJ, you might as well buy an XF — there’s not much in it — but the whole point of luxury is indulgence, so you need a car like that, something that acts as the bookend for the brand. I think we will always have that.”

Ultimately, the decision to keep the XJ was based on the continued success of full size luxury models, especially those with hybrid drivetrain versions. Though super luxury SUVs are gaining traction, their equivalent sedan forms continue to hold buyer attention. The opportunity to experiment with an electrically assisted powertrain and a completely new design language via a halo model was also too good to pass up.

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