In 1968 Jaguar stunned the world with the introduction of its XJ series: a luxury sedan and flasghip of its product line-up.
Over the next few decades, eight generations of the XJ rolled off the production line and the car received iconic status in the motoring world.
Part of that iconic status is the fact that the XJ is not just Jaguar’s longest-serving product but one of the oldest nameplates in the motoring world.
In 2018, to celebrate the XJ’s 50th birthday, Jaguar brought a special XJ50 to market which made its way locally.
A special birthday
The XJ50 tag was added to only the 3.0-litre diesel models; both the standard and long-wheelbase variants. Retailing from R1.8 and R1.9-million, respectively, the XJ50 is a birthday gift from Jaguar to itself. This car is not that different to the rest of the XJ range, except for XJ50 embellishments added to the vehicle.
Along the fenders, boot, doorsills, the storage bin between the front seats… Jaguar provides subtle clues that this is not your ordinary XJ. The XJ50 we're featuring is in standard guise and it's powered by a turbocharged engine that produces 221kW and 700Nm of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels and is it supported by a balanced drive that is neither shaky nor uncomfortable.
To further aid the ride quality, air suspension has been fitted to the rear axle as standard; this to gift rear occupants the same amount of comfort as those in front.
This XJ came to market in July 2009, but in 2015 it received an upgrade both in terms of the exterior and interior. The yacht-like design of the fascia has been retained, but the media system and features brought it in line with Jaguar’s other product offerings.
The car is also very well-specced in terms of technologies, featuring ventilated front seats with massage and memory function, a panoramic sunroof, a suction function on the doors, an electrically operated boot, lane keep assist, and blind spot alert. To mention a few...
Image: Warren Wilson
A sad reality
But there is more to the XJ’s story because in June 2019 Jaguar announced that, after 51 years, it will cease production of the XJ in July 2019. Perhaps a full-circle of sorts, because this generation XJ first came to market precisely a decade ago. And what’s even sadder, is that the man who penned the first XJ in the 1960s, Norman Dewis, passed away a few days after Jaguar’s announcement.
If a silver lining can be found, Jaguar said that the XJ will return in the form of an all-new electric vehicle to sit at the top of its product line-up.
But until such time that the XJ’s hiatus is over, we can at least appreciate and remember the sedan for what it is. For what it was.