My grandfather drove the last of the previous-generation XJs just before he died, and as such, I've always associated that car with cigar-smoking, slightly raunchy, charming old men. Every time I get into a current XJ, I'm reminded of how much I liked him, and of how much I like Jaguar's biggest - and brightest - sedan. Sure, it's getting old, and sure, it's a bit backward-looking in both its style and its equipment, but there's a lot here to love. The ride and handling balance still makes every other car on the road seem brutish and crude. The interior is classically upright and comfortable, no matter how large or small you are. And if you don't feel even a little bit special staring out over that long, flat hood, then you have no pulse.
Still, the XJ is getting old, and there's no arguing that it's hugely in need of an update. The latest visual refresh - complete with tacky nose job and BMW M3-like bumper scoop - has done nothing but clutter the car's dignified, sporting front end. It's a case of too much makeup and not enough actual thought. Much as I love the way the current XJ drives, the next one can't come soon enough.
Sam Smith, Associate Editor