Petrolheads everywhere mourned as messers Clarkson, Hammond, and May announced a complete change to their show’s format. “A great British motoring institution” has all but come to an end as the previous series’ finale paid tribute to the Ford saloons that have been a staple here.
But we have heard little more than a whimper about an even older, more important one coming to an end. The Jaguar XJ, which has been around since 1968 will be discontinued on the 5th of July. That’s not entirely the end of the story, as rumour has it that the big cat will return next year as an all-electric car. This is hardly a surprise, as whether it’s because of stringent regulation or the last oil well running dry, it’s a matter of time before every car makes the transition. But at the time of writing this is still a rumour.
All of this is entirely understandable. Saloons have waned in popularity as SUVs dominate most sales charts. There are various reasons for this, including the fact that taller cars are just easier to climb in and out of on a daily basis. But it is still sad news nonetheless. The big Jag has been one of the most iconic British nameplates and is second only to the Mini in being the longest lasting.
The XJ has been more than one car, ranging from the entry level XJ6 to two different kinds of flagship. The days of the XJ12 are long behind us, leaving only the German luxury firms (as well as Rolls Royce and Bentley) with a 12-cylinder in their big saloons. But in more recent models its place was taken by the XJR. This has always been the same formula. A fire-breathing supercharged V8 keeping the saloon on a par with some of the lightest that the Continent has to offer, all in the lap of luxury. Sure, a Mercedes AMG or BMW M might be faster. But which would you honestly rather have had?
The XJ is the latest victim of what some American websites have called the “sedan apocalypse” referring to the aforementioned death of traditional saloons in favour of SUVs. Every company has been reluctant to finish off its top of the line from the S-Class Mercedes and 7 Series BMW, to the Lexus LS and Lincoln Continental which was recently revived. But Jaguar is the first to face up to reality. Sales of the Jag have dropped massively since the new model was launched in 2009.
What’s also sad is that there has been very little said about this news. When the Land Rover Defender was discontinued in 2016, it received far more attention even though we all knew for sure that it was coming back. But that could be because the then current Defender dated back to the Cretaceous period.
But there is still hope for the XJ to return in 2020 as an EV. So maybe it’s not dead. Maybe it’s just pining for the fjords.