Shootout: Jaguar XJ vs Mercedes S-Class
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 1.15 – 1.25 crores (Jaguar XJ), Rs. 1.38 – 1.72 crores (Mercedes S-Class)
These cars will get your from point A to point B quickly in utmost comfort, style and luxury
There are cars, then there are bigger cars and then there are even bigger cars and then there are limousines like these which might have four wheels but can give a reputed 5-star hotel a run for luxury. Enter the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, often referred to as the best car in the world and the default choice of the ultra wealthy. But the big German sedan isn’t going to have it as easy as it appears because the wild cat from Britain has the flagship Benz firmly in its sight. The Jaguar XJ might not be all new like the S-Class but like the Merc, it is also locally assembled and priced very attractively. The Jag is in fact the most affordable car in its segment which also comprises of the Audi A8 (the only car in its class which isn’t locally assembled and comes via the expensive CBU route) and the BMW 7-Series whose all new generation model is set to arrive on our shores next year, causing a lot of worry to its rivals. But amidst this British German war, does the Allied force really worry the Axis?
Motor Quest: Jaguar’s XJ first made its debut in 1968 while the Mercedes S-Class dates back all the way to 1954. Mercedes launched the sixth generation S-Class in India last year while later in the year, Jaguar launched an updated XJ with more equipment and a lower price tag courtesy of CKD operations.
Styling – When you think about it, these cars might be from the same segment but are visually opposites. However, when parked next to each other, there are more similarities than you might imagine. Just look at the picture above, both cars have a similar sized front grille (the Merc’s is bigger and less flashy) and the wheels also look quite similar. But that said, the S-Class subscribes to elegance over sporty while the Jag does quite the opposite. Looking at these cars, one will believe the S-Class is aimed at an older audience while the XJ is for the young businessman. There is no denying, the XJ looks sportier and although it too carries a massive length, it turns attention for its youthful design.
The XJ does attract more attention than the S-Class
The Mercedes S-Class does well to incorporate old world charm with a modern design, the lights being the big highlight on the Benz. In fact, the Merc uses all LEDs both inside out and entirely skips out on traditional bulbs. The XJ isn’t far behind with its lights which also possess a lot of visual delight. The sloping roofline gives the Jag a very exciting appearance. At the rear too, both cars get a rear mounted roof antenna, twin exhaust pipes (one on each side) and a splash of chrome. It actually does boil down to what one likes, the pure elegance of the Mercedes S-Class or the sporty appeal of the Jaguar XJ.
Interiors – Costing upwards of Rs. 1 crore, these luxury saloons have top notch cabins with an equipment list so long that you won’t be able to recollect half of it at first thought. The XJ has a sporty cabin with a hint of retro appeal while the Merc again walks its elegant line with a lot of retro touches like the 2-spoke steering wheel for example. The XJ’s cabin is quite loaded, there is good space at the rear and the seats are very comfortable too but in front of the S-Class, the Jaguar just feels a bit lacking. This is because Mercedes has gone a big step up with the interiors of their flagship sedan, it has better fit, finish and quality with more space all around.
Sit in either of these cars and you feel very special
The Jaguar XJ has nice seats but the Mercedes S-Class just feels better with the rear headrest pillow having the kind of softness that makes your head sink into luxury. The S-Class also has much more rear seat legroom and you can also make yourself a bed by folding the front passenger seat with a touch of a button. While neither cars will seat more than four in comfort, the possibility of a fifth passenger in the S500 is completely ruled out as it comes with a fixed rear centre console which has foldable tray tables (the XJ has it too but on the back of the front seats). The S-Class also has more equipment than the XJ including a much better infotainment system (with a better sound system). The Merc gets massage seats at the rear that work brilliantly to relieve all your stress (has 6 massage modes) while the Jag has a basic function but also works the massage on the front seats. There is no two ways about it, the S-Class’ interiors are a full step up over the XJ’s.
Performance – Both cars are offered with petrol and diesel engines and while the latter motor is a V6, the petrols are vastly apart because the Mercedes has double the cylinders than the Jag. The XJ employs a pocket friendly 2.0-litre 4-pot mill that outputs 237 BHP and 340 Nm, doing the 0-100 km/hr sprint in 7.5 seconds. Meanwhile the S500 draws power from a massive 4.7-litre V8 motor that belts out 453 HP and 700 Nm, taking a mere 4.8 seconds to do the 0-100 km/hr sprint. The Jaguar is more economical while the Merc is acres better in performance but then we are comparing blackberries to apples which is quite unfair, more so considering the price difference between the petrol powered luxury limos. A comparison between the diesel mills is more apt and that is also the more popular choice of fuel in this segment.
The S-Class has such good insulation that you can barely hear the motor
Both these luxury cars draw diesel power from 3.0-litre engines, both being V6 units. The Mercedes motor outputs 262 PS of power while Jaguar’s oil burner has more power at 275 PS. The S-Class does have more torque at 620 Nm against the XJ’s marginally lesser 600 Nm. The Jag is faster to the 0-100 km/hr run, taking 6.4 seconds against the S-Class’ 6.8 seconds and that largely boils down to the gearbox, the 7-speed unit not offering as quick shifts as the ZF sourced 8-speed unit on the British sedan. Both cars have their top speeds limited to 250 km/hr and reach the double hundred without much effort.
The S-Class has excellent refinement, feels very smooth and has good low-end poke for effortless driving. The Benz has better low-end performance than the Jaguar as peak torque comes in early while the XJ’s turbo spools up at around 2000 RPM when it gives you a good rush of performance. The Jaguar is heavier but due to higher power, it has better in-gear acceleration times, which coupled with its quicker gearbox, also helps in quicker overtakes on the highways. Both cars do get steering mounted paddles to let you take control of things and there are no levers, so no tiptronic mode here as the Jag has a rotary controller for gear selection while the Merc has a stalk mounted gear selector.
The XJ’s engine sounds better as there is a sporty rasp to it and the Jaguar mill also redlines higher at 5000 RPM, against the Merc’s 4200 RPM rev limit. Both cars get a Sport mode but it’s the Jag which amplifies the change in mode with its instrument cluster turning red when you hit Dynamic mode. While both cars are efficient for their size, the Stuttgart automobile is marginally lighter on the pocket, going half a km more per litre but the XJ has a 2-litre bigger fuel tank, equalling the tank range on both the cars.
Driving Dynamics – Both these cars channel power to the rear wheels but that’s where the commonality between them comes to an abrupt end. The S-Class has a softer suspension set-up, being oriented towards comfort while the XJ is called a sporty limo as it is stiffly sprung and quite engaging to drive. The S-Class isn’t very agile and feels a bit floaty through corners but it does offer good handling as long as you don’t push it hard through sharp corners. Where the Benz excels is high speed stability and handling through long sweepers. However, the XJ is just a better handler, it darts into corners with more eagerness and feedback, belying its size. The bigger 19-inch wheels on the XJ helping over the 18-inch ones found on the S350.
The XJ is for those who love driving while the S-Class rules in comfort
The steering on the S-Class is big and lacks much feedback at low speeds but weighs up brilliantly at high speeds. The XJ’s steering has more feedback and in Sport mode, it offers much improved feel too. However, the S-Class simply shows who is the real boss when it comes to ride quality. It not only rides better than the XJ, it is by far the best riding car in its class, wafting along at high speeds. The suspension does a fantastic job of ironing out the bad surfaces of our roads and while the Jag has a good ride quality too, it is just no match for the S-Class. Braking performance is strong on both cars and as expected there are a ton of electronics to help these vehicles stop with supreme confidence.
Safety and After Sales Service – When you are paying so much for a car, safety should be the least of your concern as top notch safest is an obvious. The S-Class received 5-star rating from Euro NCAP but the XJ hasn’t been tested by the safety organisation, it should however get a 5-star rating too. Meanwhile, the S-Class is the more safer vehicle having features like automatic high/low beam switching, night vision camera, automatic braking, three intensity levels for the brake light and what not! Mercedes also has a wider dealership network than Jaguar and their service is better too.
Verdict – Inspite of being the much older car here, the Jaguar XJ does manage to come across as strong in various areas such as exterior styling, driving appeal and price. But when you are paying upwards of a crore on a car, expecting no compromise, it’s the S-Class which you would rather have. The Mercedes is just the better car of the two, it’s more comfortable, better loaded, higher on tech with terrific quality and attention to detail. The S-Class also has the kind of NHV levels which redefines the world pin-drop silence, easily making the flagship Mercedes the best limousine in its class and also our winner in this shootout.
Jaguar has done a very good job with the XJ, giving it a lot of appeal but the Mercedes S-Class blends everything so well that the higher price for the German car feels every inch worth it. Being fresher, more loaded and offering 7-star comfort to rear seat occupants makes it an easy win for the three-pointed star.
Picture Editing: Sri Manikanta Achanta
Further Reading –
Mercedes S-Class Petrol Review
Mercedes S-Class Diesel Review
Mercedes S600 Guard Review
Jaguar XJ Diesel Review
Jaguar XJ Petrol Review