2013 Jaguar XJ 3.0 V6 D Portfolio Review – Luxury and Class with Character

Beautiful styling, luxurious cabin, class and character abound, V6 diesel is sublime

Digital TV reception was poor on our tester

Jaguar XJ?

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review

The XJ has long been Jaguar’s most luxurious model. With its beginnings in the late 1960’s, the XJ quickly embedded itself in people’s minds, becoming a byword for sumptuousness, comfort and power. From the Series 3 being introduced in 1979, the was little change in the overall exterior design and shape, in fact right up until 2009, when a new era of Jaguar pushed its way into the limelight.

The old boys of the Jaguar clubs may have grumbled and moaned about it not being ‘Jaguar-enough’, but it was time for a change. The new direction meant a far larger car, with a superior powerplant, ride and interior over the ’07 – ’09 XJ. Has the XJ lost that all-important Jaguar feel though, and does it do that two-letter badge justice? We were sent the 2013 Jaguar XJ Portfolio 3.0 V6 Diesel to review, and find out exactly that…

Exterior. Butt-ugly or beauty?

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review

As I mentioned just now, the Jaguar finally changed the exterior design of the XJ in 2009. Although the old shape was long-running, there was a lot of class about it, and it was very likeable too. Next to it though, the  old XJ it is almost dwarfed. At over 5.1 metres (201″) in length, even in standard wheel-base guise the XJ is a very large car. To compare, the Honda Jazz is 3.9 metres (153 “). Long cat is very long.

By the end of its life, the old generation of XJ had mainly the same sort of drivers as its age – old money, in words. This new version is less erm… gentle in its approach. It is more brash, more new-money, and in a similar vein it absolutely stakes its presence from the moment it glides into view. While the XJ is elegant and stylish, it also cuts a powerful figure. There’s a solidness about it, but in a gentlemanly way. Rather like a Cambridge-educated bouncer, you don’t mess.

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review

While cars like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series, Audi A8, Porsche Panamera and Lexus LS make their own powerful statement, the Jaguar XJ’s design is certainly the most stylish and sophisticated in this class. The long, muscular bonnet more than hints at the powerplant below, while the top framework sweeps fluidly back from the A to the C pillar, broken finally by the black strip leading to the bootlid. From a side profile, this can look almost messy, but viewed from higher up it makes sense as it gives the appearance of the top frame floating.

A high shoulder-line and narrow side windows add a sleek and sporty look, while the rear light clusters sit high up on the shoulder of the rear, before cascading down the tail, adding absolutely to the over flowing motion of the XJ’s body. The rear is clean and uncluttered, with minimal design lines or details, with only an oblong tailpipe poking out each side.

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review

While other cars in this big Jag’s class largely go unnoticed in the street – save perhaps for the Panamera – the XJ draws attention. As I drive the car over the cobbles of an old market town to find a parking space, heads turn and eyes take in the Jaguar’s long flanks. Finding a space that’ll fit the big cat is not easy, and I’m aware that people have stopped to look at the XJ – don’t mess this one up Chris. Fortunately, the steering lock on the Jaguar is decent, and I’m in in one go. When I say ‘in’, what I mean is that the Jag’s rear end is poking out the space by at least a foot.

As I exit the car, there are now a fair amount of folk having a gander at the Jaguar, and it draws admiration from every age and gender. While this might be a contentious statement, I genuinely believe the Jaguar XJ is stately enough to be in a league with the Rolls-Royce Ghost or Bentley Flying Spur – not by brand name of course, but certainly in design. And that’s saying something.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

The XJ was never going to be a disappointment. Having previously tested the XF 3.0L S/C Portfolio I knew it was going to be something rather good. I did however wonder how Jaguar could improve on something as lovely as that. It seems they have. I was sent the Jaguar XJ in Portfolio spec, and in SWB (standard wheel base) form. The Portfolio is the second-to-highest spec in the range, with only the XJR being higher, and even then there’s little difference aside from different trim choices and of course, that monstrous engine.

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review

Priced (without options) at almost £68,000, this is not an inexpensive car. However, the base model XJ Luxury – which will still be very nice – starts at around £56k, so fear not if your budget doesn’t stretch as high as the Portfolio. The XJ was loaded with optional equipment too – £5,805 worth, in fact. That’s a staggering amount, and to the average person that’s a whole lump of cash – enough to buy a good second-hand car in reality.

It’s all relevant though, and if you’ve got the money then fair enough. More importantly, does it feel like you’re getting you money’s worth? Let’s not beat about the bush here – the answer to that question is; Yes. Pull open the deep door of the XJ, and you’re greeted with something so well-designed and beautifully crafted that it’ll make your eyes water.

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review

Up front there are deep soft-grain leather seats, which can be adjusted in eighteen different ways. These are so comfortable that after sitting in them, your sofa will feel like a prison bed. They are heated, cooled and have a massage feature for the driver and passenger. I used that many, many times. Between the seats is a wide console, edged in soft, stitched leather that surround panels in reflective Piano black, and high quality chrome highlights add to classy effect. The layout of the controls for the heating and stereo have been superbly thought-out, with the overlook kept minimalistic. There’s no visible gearstick either, and only when you start the engine does the selector dial rise slickly out of the console.

Jaguar XJ Portfolio 3.0 V6 Diesel review

Above the controls, there’s a touchscreen which as well as being used for the satellite navigation, digital TV, and the rather impressive 825-watt Meridian surround-sound system, is also used to control a load of other aspects of the car, such as the rear seat heating and entertainment, and more. More excellence is shown in design of the air vents, which not only look cool, but the slick way in which they can be adjusted further reinforces the overall quality of they XJ.

Sweeping around the top of the dash in a semi-circle is a single piece of trim made from wood, carbon fibre or in the Piano black style. I don’t know if Jaguar intended it to be evocative of those beautiful old-style wooden power boats, but it is.

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review-6686

The drivers console isn’t the traditional analogue dials, but rather features virtual instruments, showing that Jaguar want to push forward with technology in their cars, rather than lagging behind. The dials are sophisticated, and they also morph and change depending on what you chose. For example, the fuel and temperature gauge will be replaced by a road map when you use the sat nav – an almost 3D ‘glass’ design makes it look like it’s come from an old WWII bomber -, and the display also turns red when you push the Dynamic button to give it a more sporty ambience.

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review

The steering wheel is one of the most comfortable I’ve come across, and although there are a lot of controls on it, they are easy to fathom and I soon got used to them. Slide into the rear seats, and this is the place to be sat. The rear on this particular XJ Portfolio benefits from the Rear Seat Comfort Pack – at a not-insubstantial cost of £2,750, I’ll add. This gives you heated, cooled and massaging seating for the passengers at the sides, and the seating is also electrically-adjustable too.

There were also 7″ monitors built into the front seat headrests, along with wireless headphones, giving the people in the rear access to digital TV, digital radio, and the ability to plug in a games console. Once you’re cocooned in there, you genuinely do not feel like getting out when you reach your destination, and should you be just the average guy having a loan of an XJ, it will make your house feel about as swanky as a cave,  such is the level of luxury in the XJ.

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review

The only negative thing I could find was that the reception for the digital TV was poor, and barely picked up a signal. It’s not the area, as the XF I had previously received it with no problems. There’s not much more to say about the interior of the XJ Portfolio, other than that it is completely wonderful. ‘Nuff said.

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review boot space

Engine and gearbox

The XJ is offered with a choice of four engines – a 3.0 litre V6 supercharged petrol, 3.0 litre V6 turbo-diesel and the 5.0 litre V8 supercharged petrol with 510PS or 550PS. And I chose the diesel. Friends gave strange looks when I mentioned I’d asked for it with an oil-burner lump. However, before you go shaking your fist at the screen and calling me a heathen – listen up.

First off, I’d already tested the diesel XJ very briefly at the main 2013 SMMT test day, and wanted more of what I’d tasted. Let’s talk stats to convince you a little more. Consider this, the 3.0 litre V6 diesel has 275 PS (271 bhp), and a mighty 600 Nm (442 ft lbs of torque). This is a lot. In fact, it has 100 ft lbs more torque than the V6 supercharged petrol. The diesel propels the big XJ from 0 – 60 mph in an almost-unbelievable six seconds. That’s just 300th of a seconds slower than the V6 supercharged as well.

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review

Starting to be won over? No? Okay, here’s something else that’ll help. The 3.0 litre V6 turbo-diesel’s SWB fuel economy is, quite frankly, staggeringly good. Read, and read again; Urban: 39.8 mpg, Extra urban: 51.4 mpg, combined: 46.3 mpg. Oh, it also only kicks out 159 g/km of CO2 – equating to just £175.00 per year in vehicle tax in the U.K (data: Sept. 2013).

Quoted figures one thing though, but ‘real-life’ driving tends to show a different story usually. According to the XJ’s live and average readouts, I managed 37 mpg on a few country-road runs, and up to 44 mpg in light, flowing traffic travelling at around 40 – 50 mph. That’s still very good for a luxury car weighing 1,775 kilograms (3,913 lbs), and considering if you drove cars like this just 15 years ago, you’d be lucky to get 25 mpg on a good day, and that’s only if you tickled it up to speed.

The stop/start feature on the XJ helps with the fuel economy too, and it’s actually a smooth system. After driving it for a while, you’re so used to it that it barely registers when it does stop and then start again. It’s quick enough for there to be no annoying gap in start time between you letting go of the brake and pushing the accelerator, and no loss of immediate acceleration either.

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review

After all this, I can still hear some of you staunch petrol-power-only drivers mumbling that the diesel will be noisy, smokey and smelly. Well, you’re wrong on all three counts. The Jaguar 3.0 litre V6 diesel engine is the quietest and most refined diesel I’ve ever come across. Even from cold, the diesel unit isn’t overly noisy, and once warm it is silky-smooth. Heck, it even sounds great when you put your foot down, producing a deep growl more akin to a petrol engine. Inside the Jaguar XJ, there is barely a difference in noise level between the supercharged V6 and the diesel V6, and your passengers won’t tell the difference unless you tell them.

The gearbox is an 8-speed automatic, and it’s a superb piece of engineering on Jaguar’s part. It changes gear almost seamlessly, aside from when you’re in Dynamic mode and it’s hitting the redline before changing. I actually found it smoother than when I tried the XF 3.0 V6 supercharged, which could sometimes feel slightly jerky at lower speeds.

I’m going to say this again later, but I would absolutely have XJ with the 3.0 litre V6 turbo-diesel over the 3.0 V6 S/C petrol, by a country mile. After testing it for a week, I’m left in no doubt whatsoever of this choice. You simply cannot ignore just how powerful and quick the diesel is, both from a standing start and in rolling-acceleration, plus the obvious benefit of the fuel economy over the petrol, and it even makes good noise. Diesel power rules okay.

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review-6878

It’s a crisp but sunny morning as I roll up the bedroom window blind, and look out onto the street, where sits the Jaguar XJ, early sun glinting off its curves. It’s not a bad thing to see first thing in a morning, and I hurry to get ready so I can get to once again slide into the cosseted, luxurious interior.

Press that starter button, and the chrome drive selector dial rises majestically from the centre console. The 3.0 litre V6 diesel fires into life immediately, quickly settling down into the steady and smooth rhythm a V6 produces. When you shut the deep door of the XJ, any outer noise is muted so much that there’s a sense you’ve just closed it on the outside world as a whole. It’s a very comforting car, this Jaguar.

Foot on the brake, select drive, and the XJ diesel pulls away strongly. Even with zero acceleration, the Jaguar will start to roll with enough oomph to get you up angular driveways, such is the torque. As I slide away from my parking space, I notice just how quiet the diesel is. The acceleration is as smooth as butter, and it reminds me of a big luxury yacht slipping away from the quayside – powerfully, fluidly and almost effortlessly.

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review

I glide around a bend, the comfortable leather steering wheel slipping back through my hands as I pilot the XJ onto the straight, and accelerate. My goodness the Jaguar is fast car. A mere short prod of the accelerator, and you’ve immediately sailed right past the normal city-road speed limit. It is way, way too easy to do this, and it takes practice to learn that just because the XJ feels like it’s going 30 mph, does not mean it’s actually doing that speed. It’s a certainty that you will alway be doing more if you believe that.

The road opens up, and I open the taps on the XJ’s V6 turbo-diesel. The Jaguar leaps, powering forward disconcertingly quickly, and the exhausts port out a distinctly non-diesel roar. The speedometer rises swiftly, and the XJ has reached sixty miles-per-hour limit without even trying. It pushes past that, onwards and upwards in an undemanding way, taking big strides as the speedo needle climbs. You’ll be into triple-figures with little effort, and without even nearing the limited 155 mph, I suspect it’ll do more than that. Autobahn’s are a petrol(diesel)head’s best friend.

An excursion to the countryside sees four of us in the XJ. Time to get some feedback from the passengers in the back. Their relaxed countenances say it all, as they’re stretched out with their seats heated, massaging functions on. It’s a serene, calming place this car, and it seems to make little difference to noise levels whatever speed you’re at. Conversations can be had without having to raise the voice barely above if you were stood talking the person in a quiet room.

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review

The XJ simply floats over poor road surfaces, allowing only a minimal amount of the feeling to transfer into the cabin – and that’s only if you drive over a particularly nasty pothole. While that is the case, the XJ still handles itself with dignity and poise around the bends, being surprisingly deft at allowing the driver to give it the beans in the twists and turns, the Adaptive Dynamics system analysing various things like speed and steering an astonishing 500 times per second, adapting the damping to suit, meaning when you start to push harder it’ll sharpen up, and allow a more comfortable setting when suitable.

Should you be late for cigars, brandy and your card game at your exclusive member’s-only club, have no fear, for the XJ has a couple of options to help you get to your destination more quickly. Firstly, you can simply turn the JaguarDrive selector to S (Sport), which will then allow you to use the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, or you can simply leave it to change gear itself. This allows for quicker changes and sharper handling.

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review

Should you want the XJ to loosen up the stability and traction control, and allow you to redline the rev counter before changing, then you’ll want to press the button with the racing flag on – this will turn on Dynamic Mode. The XJ will then go from serene cruiser to something that feels pugnacious and angry. It accelerates with an aggression instead of smoothness, and the gear changes become lightening quick. On a drenched, slippery road, accelerate hard and you’ll find all 442 ft lb of the 3.0 litre V6 turbo-diesel lighting up the tyres for a good twenty or thirty feet before it’ll find grip, such is the raw energy it puts down. Fun times.

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review

The stability control is loosened enough to get some great oversteer going, but it’ll cut back in should it think you’re losing control completely. Should you turn the XJ’s DCS off completely, I suspect the Jaguar would drift beautifully, and in a very un-civil manner. Good-O!

All-in-all, the Jaguar XJ is a wonderful car to both drive, and be driven in. It allows serenity and comfort when needed, and will turn from domestic cat to a large, roaring and unexpectedly scary beast with the twist of a dial and the prod of a button.

Price

The Jaguar XJ starts at £56,865 for the Diesel 275PS Luxury. You’re still getting great spec for that, and it is a highly competitive price when compared with the lowest-spec Mercedes-Benz S 350 BlueTEC SE Line at around £62,500, the BMW 730d SE at £58,000, the Audi A8 3.0 TDI quattro at £57,000 and the Lexus LS 460 Luxury at £72,000. Once you go higher in the chain with the XJ, like the Portfolio spec diesel I had, it you’re looking at serious cash – almost £68,000. Add a few options to that, and you’ll be handing over around £73,000.

At the top end of the range – with option boxes ticked – the XJ will set you back almost £104k, while the Beemer, Audi (S8) and Lexus are all around the same as the Jaguar, give or take a few thousand pounds – which is nothing at this level – while the Merc (S63 AMG) will be upwards of £120k.

While we’re talking eye-watering amounts of cash for the person on the average wage – myself included – I really felt the XJ 3.0 Diesel 275PS Portfolio was worth every penny. Almost every piece of trim is perfectly made, and of ultra high quality, while that engine diesel is stupendously good.

Jaguar XJ 2013 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio review

2013 Jaguar XJ 3.0 Diesel 275PS Portfolio verdict & score

I am absolutely besotted with the Jaguar XJ diesel. It is beguiling and utterly classy while entirely modern. This new direction Jaguar have chosen for their top of the line car is certainly the right one, and it makes the XJ all the more appealing. If you’re of the old guard of Jag owner, and think they’ve lost that certain feeling you get from a Jaguar, then think again. Go and test one, and you’ll want to trade your old one in immediately.

Finally, the 3.0 Diesel 275PS engine is unquestionably the choice to buy over the Supercharged V6 petrol. It is a wonderful engine, with everything you need – superb power delivery, ultra-quiet and smooth, impressive fuel economy, and it growls too. Choice? What choice?

Do you own a new Jaguar XJ? What are your views on it, and what are the best and worst points? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

Exterior  9
Interior  9
Engine  9
Gearbox  9
Price  8.5
Drive  8.5
Overall Score  9.0 / 10 

  Specs

Model (as tested)  2013 Jaguar XJ 3.0 V6 D 275PS Portfolio SWB
Spec includes  18-way front power seats with heating and cooling, rear heated/cooled seating, 4-zone climate control, double-glazed side windows, 825W Meridian Surround-Sound system, panoramic glass roof, 8-speed auto transmission. See website for more info
Options you should spec  Rear seat comfort pack (£2,750)
The Competition  BMW 7-Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, Lexus LS
Price  Standard XJ 3.0 Diesel 275PS Portfolio: £67,865 (price Sept. ’13)
Engine  Diesel, 3.0 litre, V6, 24-valve, parallel sequential turbo-charging
Power, Torque, CO2  275 PS (271 bhp), 600 Nm (442 ft lbs) | CO2: 159 g/km
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Rear wheel drive | 8-speed automatic
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed (ltd): 155 mph | 0 – 60 mph: 6.0 seconds | No Euro NCAP test as yet
Fuel economy (mpg)  (Manual) Urban: 39.8, Extra urban: 51.4, Combined: 46.3
Weight (kerb)  1,775 kg (3,913 lbs)
Websites  Jaguar UK, Jaguar USA, Jaguar Global

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Words: Chris Davies | Tested by: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

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