Written by Stephen Hurrell ▼

Jaguar XJ Sentinel: the bombproof Big Cat

Jaguar XJ Sentinel: the bombproof Big Cat

Driving past the new Jaguar XJ Sentinel on the motorway, it would take a keen eye to distinguish it from the standard Jaguar luxury saloon.

However, the new XJ Sentinel, set to be revealed at the 2010 Moscow International Motor Show, is no ordinary luxury vehicle.

Beneath the leather veneer upholstery and shapely XJ exterior, the Sentinel has been designed to withstand armour piercing ammunition, grenades and ‘substantial’ blasts.

This is because the XJ Sentinel is the heavily armoured version of the luxury saloon and is set to be used by government officials, security organisations and safety conscious private individuals.

The Jaguar XJ Sentinel has been built with high strength steel complete with Kevlar backing which has been rated as B7 strength armour – the strongest out of the seven levels given to vehicle armour.

The armour is capable of withstanding 15kg of TNT – a blast which would severely damage a regular XJ model and the occupants inside.

One of the main problems facing engineers fitting B7 armour to a vehicle is weight, which stands at around 3,800kg – 1,500kg more than the standard longbase XJ. As a result Jaguar engineers have shaved as much as possible off the body structure by using lightweight aluminium wherever possible.

In addition, Jaguar’s Adaptive Dynamics chassis system has been uprated to cope with the extra weight, while suspension and steering have also been tweaked.

Under the bonnet, the XJ Sentinel uses a 5.0-litre 385PS direct-injection V8 petrol engine with a six-speed automatic transmission as seen on the standard version, although the extra weight means the 0-62mph sprint time of 9.7 seconds is significantly slower than the 5.4 seconds for the standard XJ.

Great strides have been made to ensure the XJ Sentinel is barely distinguishable from the standard XJ – after all, if you’re worried about armour piercing bullets or grenade attacks, the last thing you want is to be conspicuous.

However, inside it is likely to boast bullet-proof gas, run-flat tyres and even a separate oxygen supply for the back seats – standard specification on all UK Cabinet-level fleet cars.

The final result, according to Jaguar Managing Director Mike O’Driscoll, is ‘the ultimate armoured luxury limousine’.

He said: “The XJ Sentinel incorporates the very latest armoured vehicle systems to deliver extremely impressive levels of protection, while maintaining a very discreet appearance.

“The XJ Sentinel will be the vehicle of choice for the most discerning."

His confidence doesn’t seem wide of the mark. Earlier this year, British Prime Minister David Cameron was spotted in an all-new armoured XJ on his first day in office.

Jaguar claimed it had no knowledge of this, and had only delivered two models to the Metropolitan Police for evaluation, but it is more likely the opportunity to showcase the XJ in front of the world’s watching eyes was too good an opportunity to miss for the Big Cat.

While Barack Obama is transported in an extravagant armoured Cadillac Stagecoach, whose specifications remain a secret known only by GM and the Secret Service, the UK now has its own, home-made armoured vehicle for the ultimate protection of our VIPs.

As Jaguar takes its Kevlar-plated steps into the armoured vehicle market, we’ve rounded up three of the most ostentatious armoured cars based on standard road cars available today – as well as the people who travel in them.

David Beckham’s BMW X5

After uncovering a kidnapping plot involving his sons, David Beckham invested in a £100,000 armour-plated BMW X5 while he lived in Madrid. While the car was intended to stop his family being kidnapped the car ended up being stolen.

And despite the array of safety technology, a member of his security team forgot to turn the tracking device on. The car was later rumoured to have been recovered in Macedonia, where it was made available for official use by interior minister Gordana Jankulovska.

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon Light Armoured Patrol Vehicle

Although only a concept, the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon Light Armoured Patrol Vehicle 6.X offers the next generation of war zone armoured vehicle technology.

Capable of withstanding ‘ballistic blasts’ and land mines, the car is also the ultimate off-road vehicle thanks to a hydraulic braking system, four ventilated disc brakes and adjustable suspension.

Featuring a communications jamming system and data recorder for mission data, the G-Wagon has the added benefit of being able to replace individual panels of armour quickly and easily, even in a war zone.

'The Beast’

Barack Obama’s Presidential Cadillac has been nicknamed ‘The Beast’ for obvious reasons; it is big, powerful, and capable of withstanding prolonged attack.

Details about its features are a matter of national security, but expect the highest levels of armour and all the safety and protection gadgetry possible crammed into the luxury limo.

These could include high-velocity assault rifle ballistic protection, side and underfloor blast protection, a fuel cut off override system, run-flat tyre system, a self-sealing fuel tank, anti-tamper exhaust, fire extinguisher system and oxygen system in case of gas attack.

Cadillacs have served US Presidents for over 70 years, but Obama’s most recent model is probably the most secure yet.