Throwback Review | The Jaguar XJ50 was a fitting end to a long-standing servant

2019 Jaguar XJ50. Image: Warren Wilson
2019 Jaguar XJ50. Image: Warren Wilson

The age-old sayings go that 'nothing in life is certain', and that 'the only change is change itself.'

For the Jaguar XJ that couldn't be truer, because in 2019, after 50 years of production, the big cat draw its final breath. It was a sad moment, seeing that the XJ was one of the pillars in Jaguar's arsenal.

Not only was it the torchbearer for what Jaguar had to offer in terms of technology, but it was the Jag with the longest, uninterrupted production-run of all time. If that is not to be celebrated, I don't know what is!

But change came around. Not only for Jaguar but in the automotive world, too. The demand for SUVs and crossovers grew exponentially, which meant that some vehicles, i.e. body shapes, would suffer because of it. And large luxury sedans are one of those.

Jaguar had a decision to make: either continue with a car that sells poorly or cease production on a floundering product.

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2019 Jaguar XJ50. Image: Warren Wilson

It's the small things

In 2018, the XJ celebrated its 50th birthday. Jaguar decided to commemorate the event with a special car, called the XJ50. The differences over the standard car were not easily visible, but the subtle details would be reward enough to those who bought into the birthday celebrations.

'XJ50' embellishments were brought onto fenders, the boot, doorsills, and the storage bin between the front seats. These might seem like small and insignificant details, but in no small degree, it added to the overall bigger picture.

REVIEW: A fitting farewell - Jaguar's XJ50 gives its final purr

The XJ50 also came fitted with heated and cooled front seats with massage and memory function, a panoramic sunroof, doors that close shut close if not closed completely, and a few other niceties and features.

A fitting end

All XJ50s are fitted with Jaguar's turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine that develops 221kW and 700Nm. Thanks to air suspension on the rear axle, the car has a more than decent ride quality and can run from 0-100km/h in just over six seconds. Granted, up until its end, the 'newest' XJ has been in production for ten years, which means that it trails the competition (BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class) in several on-the-road areas. Yet, ride quality remains impressive.

REVIEW: Exploring the Overberg in the serene Jaguar XJ50

While the car impressed highly, it had to take a bow and say farewell as the curtain was drawn on its performance. Adding to the sombre news was the announcement that Norman Dewis, the man who designed the very first XJ, passed away just days after Jaguar's announcement on the XJ's axing. Sad as it is, in some way, the XJ and the man who first visualized should meet in the hereafter.

The XJ-name will return in the near future, however, as Jaguar announced that it would produce an all-new electric vehicle to sit at the top of its product hierarchy. The Jaguar XJ, as we know it, may be gone, but from the ashes, new life will sprout again.

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