2011 Jaguar XJ – Click above for high-res image gallery Xynthia ripped into France merely hours after our arrival. Packing gale-force fury, the ruthless wind and rain battered the coast before moving inland with its crushing blow – sadly, it was the country's deadliest storm in more than a decade. While we were spared most of its rage, the countryside outside Paris was a soggy debris-laden mess – not exactly optimal conditions to test the latest flagship sedan from Jaguar. Soldiering forth – and more intrigued than ever with the all-new saloon – we ignored the rain and spent a long day trekking around the drenched landscape with both the short- and long-wheelbase models. What makes this new XJ so different from its predecessors? Does its performance mirror its powerplants? And, what's up with that painted C-Pillar? The answers, and more, are found after the jump. %Gallery-87646% Photos by Michael Harley / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc. Originally launched in 1968, the Jaguar XJ was cast as the flagship of the British automaker's lineup. The new four-door saloon rolled into the public's eye with a straight-six engine and rear-wheel drive. Within a few years, a V12 would be fitted under the hood and the XJ would be sold as the world's only twelve-cylinder sedan. It was more than appropriate for Jaguar's jewel. The Jaguar XJ went through several updates and a couple generations before the third-generation (or "Mark III") debuted in 1986. Ford Motor Company arrived as the brand's new owner shortly thereafter. The big American automaker updated the XJ's electrical system, improved the engine and taught the British company a few things about manufacturing... before selling the company in 2008. Tata Motors Limited, a $16 billion multinational corporation headquartered in India, is the current owner of Jaguar – though you really wouldn't know it unless someone told you. The company purchased the traditional British automaker (in a sale that also included Land Rover) in the midst of the development of "Project X351" – better known as the fourth-generation XJ. Seemingly uninterrupted by the change at the helm, the design team pushed far beyond what would have been expected of an XJ successor, in both draft and engineering. While most of the sedans in this segment are rather indiscernible in a crowd, the all-new 2011 Jaguar XJ draws mesmerized stares at first glance. Jaguar, intent on designing "beautiful fast cars" with "seductive designs," has delivered a sleek, fluid and contemporary shape – it isn't difficult to visualize that leaping black cat in its elongated silhouette. Instantly recognizable as a Jaguar – thanks to the massive front grille – the XJ's figure doesn't overtly build-upon the styling of the XF, as many would have expected. Instead, it is a charge in a more cultured direction. Its lines are bold and deliberate, yet very graceful to the eye and wind (its drag coefficient is just 0.29). Artfully added bright accents, on the front fascia, quarter panel and rear valance, synthesize well with …
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