2011 Design of the Year: Jaguar XJ

What Ian Callum and Julian Thomson have done with the XJ is exactly what Lyons did. They kept the double-bump headlamp fairings, for instance, but they dropped the rounded rear roof, used for too long and cribbed by Chrysler for the LHS, and innovated new forms. Their new upper design is good, but for the U.S. its execution is weak because our laws don't allow extremely dark backlight and rear-door glass, as is permitted in Europe. This explains why XJ D-pillars are black -- and why some U.S. buyers are choosing to have their D-pillars painted body color instead. Either way, the car's profile, whether in short- or long-wheelbase form, is wonderfully sleek with its long roof.

To me, the best part of Jaguar's total renewal lies inside. Mark Phillips, head of interior design, has totally transformed Jaguar interiors without diluting the essence of what made Jaguars so desirable. There's still wood, just not as much of it, in arcing narrow bands, not big planks. There are still big round dials, but they're not real, just clever digital representations. For as much as I admire Carsten Monnerjan's Bauhaus-caliber Audi interiors, I like the warmth of the XJ's cabin more. And so do the majority of us at Automobile Magazine. The Jaguar XJ is a truly worthy Design of the Year.

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