2011 Jaguar XJ Review, Specs and Comparisons - VIDEO ENHANCED
DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS
2011 Jaguar XJ Luxury Sedan
With the debut of the newest XJ in 2010, the remake of the Jaguar lineup was completed, and stylistic nostalgia became nostalgia. Welcome to the 21st Century, Jaguar!
Which is not to say that the quintessentially British big cat has lost distinctive character. That has merely changed from the previous elegant nod to the company's considerable past to now a thoroughly contemporary luxury car in design and appointment, New Jaguar style. Gone is the Old Jaguar XJ look, little changed since the nameplate's inception in the 1960s. It has been replaced by a sleek sedan-coupe look that takes the styling cues introduced on the smaller XF to the next level and adds in some new ones as well. Yes, the XJ, like the XF and XK, is an Ian Callum design.
As previously, both regular-wheelbase XJ and long-wheelbase XJL variants are offered, with the XJL gaining around five inches in both wheelbase and rear seat legroom. Power is from the latest developments of Jaguar's AJ-V8, now with direct fuel injection and 5.0 liters of displacement. Standard naturally-aspirated form has "merely" 385 horsepower. Supercharged models get 470 hp, and if that's not enough, there is the Supersport, available by special order only ("bespoke", like a Savile Row suit) with 510 supercharged horses and 461 lb-ft of torque.
Jaguar being Jaguar, meaning not a huge manufacturer with unlimited resources, some of the new XJ's underpinnings are familiar, if next-generation. Nothing wrong with that, as the aerospace-inspired bonded and riveted aluminum unibody structure means that the XJ is one of the lightest cars in the premium luxury class, with consequent benefits in performance, road manners, and fuel economy. Much of that aluminum is from recycled material, for environmental benefit as well. Suspension and steering are adapted from the high-performance XFR. JaguarDrive Control™ in all models coordinates engine, transmission, and chassis systems to give the driver optimum control in luxury, sport, or winter modes.
The result is the most luxurious, and most modern, Jaguar yet. I recently was able to experience a "base model" XJ driving and riding to and from an automotive event. If not the usual week at home, the experience was perhaps better, with not only plenty of time driving on highways and city streets in varying amounts of traffic, but the opportunity to ride in the rear seat as well. That's definitely not the penalty box, especially with the heating and cooling and four-zone climate control of the Luxury Package. Not to mention the massage chair masquerading as the driver's seat… There is plenty of Luxury with a capital "L", no shortage of power even without a supercharger, and a fine combination of true luxury ride comfort and sports sedan ability from the chassis. Increased interior and trunk room will be appreciated -- we got multi-day luggage for four in the trunk, even with one person unclear on the "pack light" concept.
Yes, the Jaguar XJ has changed. But it's still every inch a Jaguar.
APPEARANCE: Until now, a Jaguar XJ looked much like its forebears, with the 2009 iteration remarkably similar, from the outside at least, to the original of 1968. That was the past. Now is the future. If you're unfamiliar with current Jaguar design language, today's XJ might look more than a bit Italian. But really, it's the culmination of designer Ian Callum's efforts with the company, and continues trends started by the smaller XF. The new XJ has elegant presence, from the slight underbite of its bold swept-back rounded-rectangular grille, "cat's eye" headlamps, and sculpted hood through the near-fastback, coupe-like roofline to its vertically-oriented taillights. Its near-full length "glass roof" dual-section sunroof and the interesting blackout treatment of the C-pillars by the backlight are especially noteworthy and distinctive.
COMFORT: The roofline may be "coupe-like" but interior space and rear headroom suffer not at all. The interior styling is flashier and more extroverted than in any previous XJ, less "British understatement", but not overdone. Consider it to be a well-appointed executive jet or yacht, not a portable boardroom.
The wood paneling at the top of the doors flows seamlessly above and behind the stitched-leather covered instrument panel for an interesting visual effect. Main instruments are of the "glass cockpit" virtual variety, analog-looking for easy comprehension but really images on a context-sensitive TFT screen -- just like in an executive jet or commercial airliner. The stitched-leather covered steering wheel is, of course, power-adjustable for both tilt and reach and has controls for audio and other systems. Nearly every current luxury amenity and gadget is standard or available --a hard drive-based navigation system and Bluetooth, iPod, USB, and Sirius™satellite radio connectivity are standard, with an excellent 1200-watt, 15-channel, 20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system available. An analog clock provides balance against all the digital gadgetry.
As in other current Jaguars, the venerable "J-gate" shifter has been replaced by the JaguarDrive Control rotary knob on the console for selection of driving mode. Manual shifting is done via steering wheel-mounted Jaguar Sequential Shift™ paddles. The knob is a bit strange at first, but no more so than the J-gate.
Nearly all interior surfaces that are not wood are leather or chrome, with obvious plastic thankfully absent. The supple leather used for the seats is allegedly the most supple ever used in a Jaguar, and adds to the sumptuous comfort -- in any seating position. I spent several hours in the rear seat, no complaint. The view out of the rear section of the standard panoramic glass sunroof is superb. No complaints about trunk capacity, either.
SAFETY: The XJ has all of the expected passive restraint systems, plus Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with cornering braking control, traction control, and understeer control. First-rate vehicle dynamics with the Adaptive Dynamics system further improve active safety, as do large, strong four-wheel vented antilock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution.
RIDE AND HANDLING: There is no point in asking if the XJ is a luxury sedan or a sports sedan. It's both. Its light, rigid aluminum structure, with key components in magnesium and composite materials, ensures that a supple standard tuning of the XFR-derived double wishbone / multilink suspension gives an appropriately high degree of ride comfort in standard mode, and makes extensive use of aluminum to reduce unsprung weight for better response. Careful aerodynamic design and use of soundproofing materials means a comfortably quiet interior, reducing fatigue and so improving safety. Turn the knob to sport mode, and Active Dynamics means that damping gets firmer, automatic shift points are higher, and even the look and colors of the instrument cluster change. It's European sports-luxury at its finest.
PERFORMANCE: With 385 horsepower (at 6500 rpm) and 380 lb-ft of torque at a low 3500 rpm, the XJ's "base" 5.0-liter naturally-aspirated V8 is underpowered only in comparison to its supercharged brethren. Even with four adults and a full trunk acceleration is no problem at all. The six-speed automatic is civilized, smooth, quick-shifting, and efficient. Recourse to manual mode is mostly for driver entertainment, as given the twincam, alloy engine's healthy midrange torque gear choice is not going to be a precision requirement. Direct fuel injection and a variable-length intake manifold help there, too. Despite the power, I saw over 20mpg in highway driving, with 19 overall -- not bad at all for a 4000-lb, nearly 400 horsepower luxury sports sedan.
It may be different inside and out, but the newest Jaguar XJ premium sports-luxury sedan is still every inch a Jaguar.
Click PLAY to watch "The Creation and Delivery of Jay Leno's Jaguar XJ" PT 1
2011 Jaguar XJ
Base Price $ 72,700 Price As Tested $ 80,250 Engine Type aluminum alloy DOHC 32-valve V8 with direct fuel injection and variable intake manifold Engine Size 5.0 liters / 305 cu. in. Horsepower 385 @ 6500 rpm Torque (lb-ft) 380 @ 3500 rpm Transmission 6-speed automatic Wheelbase / Length 119.4 in. / 201.7 in. Curb Weight 4045 lbs. Pounds Per Horsepower 10.5 Fuel Capacity 21.7 gal. Fuel Requirement 91 octane unleaded premium gasoline Tires Pirelli PZero Nero all-season F: P245/45 R19 102H R: P275/40 R10 105H Brakes, front/rear vented disc all around, ABS, EBD, EBA standard Suspension, front/rear independent double wishbone / independent multilink Drivetrain front engine, rear-wheel drive PERFORMANCE EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 16 / 23 / 19 0 to 60 mph 5.4 sec OPTIONS AND CHARGES Luxury Package - includes: leather-rimmed steering wheel with stitched and tailored trim, heated and cooled leather rear seats, 4-zone climate control, suedecloth premium headliner, electric power rear sunblind $ 4,000 Bowers & Wilkins 1200W audio system $ 2,300 Heated front windshield $ 375 Transportation and handling $ 875
Click PLAY to watch "The Creation and Delivery of Jay Leno's Jaguar XJ" PT 2