That honors belongs to the XJ.
As SUV and crossover popularity grows, the demand for conventional sedans seems to weaken. This won’t be changing anytime soon, but that’s not stopping Jaguar from downgrading its XJ sedan flagship status. Speaking to Autocar, Jaguar design chief Ian Callum made clear the next-generation XJ will retain its spot as the brand’s range topper despite the industry-wide temptation to give that coveted title to, say, a large, three-row crossover. In fact, Callum said there is a “consensus” within the automaker that the XJ keep its crown.
“An SUV was discussed but it’s not the mainstay of the brand,” Callum said. “There’s more sophistication for a flagship sedan than a flagship SUV. Only one brand can have an SUV as its flagship due to its origins and that’s Land Rover.” At the moment, Jaguar is working on a new SUV slotted above the F-Pace, but it’s still a little ways off; a new XJ takes priority. However, Callum also admitted that the so-called sedan ethos needs to be reinvented in light of the rise of the SUV. For example, Tesla continues to have phenomenal success with the Model S, which is really a stretched five-door hatchback. Fortunately for Callum and his team, the current XJ already has a coupe-like silhouette that customers like.
It’s different than literally anything its direct rivals (not including Tesla) offer. “The coupe profile is something I obsessed over,” Callum added. “Some people don’t agree with it. Everything else is three-box; people simplify and categorize things. (If you do that), you lose the opportunity to define in your own way. The XJ covers that well.” Today’s XJ, Callum believes, “says what Jaguar is about.” When will the next generation XJ debut? It should be pretty soon, to be honest. The current generation launched way back in 2009, though it was last refreshed for 2015.
Still though, it’s approaching a decade on the market and compared to everything else in its segment, the XJ is something of a dinosaur. Still looks fantastic, though. Given that, and Callum’s commitment to a flagship sedan, the next XJ will no doubt be another show stopper.