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2005 Jaguar XJR Supercharged V8 Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By Gareth Wardell
Contributing Editor

SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Jaguar


Is there a better saloon on the road? I doubt it, certainly not for the money.

It is hard to find fault with it. In such circumstances car journalists are apt to talk about poor rear seat or limited boot space, or the complicated satellite navigation system. Well, I can’t say any of those things. I can only state a preference; the colour combination I was given, Jaguar Racing Green exterior with an interior in, “champagne” and “mocha,” is not a color combination I’d choose for a car of this quality, even if those hues are a traditional mixture. The green has a terrific intensity, but the interior is a dowdy hue. The “champagne” attracts dirt easily and doesn’t show off the interior to perfection.

This is the twilight of its life in its present form, a new breed of Jaguar around the corner. Next to fly-by-wire technology, and a hybrid engine, it’s difficult to image how they can improve the next that constitutes a great leap forward. It is lightweight - aluminum to a fault - very fast, packed with all the right gizmos and safety features, effortless to drive, ultra-comfortable, and at the zenith of J. D. Power reliability. What else could a discerning driver want? Well, according to my colleagues it is too like the last iteration. What is wanted is a modern design. Let me tell you this, a buzzard in flight is often mistaken for an eagle, but an eagle is never, ever mistaken for anything but an eagle. And so it is with the recognizable shape of a Jaguar.

If you wish, you could buy a BMW, a marque now in the throws of junking all its elegant proportions acquired over years of evolution for a set of novelty headlights, something called “flare edge,” bizarre derrieres, and over-designed dash. Or you could buy a Mercedes and discover if it were not for the three-pointed dash on the bonnet or grille no one can distinguish it from a Japanese car. And that’s before you discover the pitiful build quality. Or you could buy a Lexus for anonymity and be dismissed for choosing the ersatz over the authentic. Buying an XJR to be invisible is a waste of time. Hardly had I driven it down the road than it attracted waves and nods of affirmation from pedestrians and drivers alike. Those who know their automotive acronyms spotted the significant R” on the trunk lid.

Some folk tell us they only want a car to get them from A to B. Anything will do. This is what I call inverted conceit: “Nay, I am humbler than thee!” Of course, this philosophy does not stretch to the house they own. I have never heard anyone say, “All I need is a roof over my head,” and then buy a tent. Like living in a house with character, old or modern, it’s important to drive a car of character and heritage, particularly if you do a lot of driving. The Jaguar XJR has that extra something. I once heard it described as “aloof.” There is nothing detached or cold about the XJR. It’s a stately galleon of the sort that won the Battle of Trafalgar, only they were made of oak not aluminium.

The future of this magnificent beast, the future of Jaguar in its entirety, lies in the hands of its chief of design, Ian Callum, and his talented team. I would love to spend a day in their design workshop. I’m sure it will be a revelation and an education. In tidying detail on this model, McCallum has recognized it as handsome, but not beautiful. Achieving eye-catching harmony in the next shape is his biggest challenge. He has to find ways of using the traditional Jaguar elements of wood and leather in new ways while still retaining the Jaguar-ness of the finished work, including ways of keeping the shape of the rear window, the twin headlights, and the muscularity of the car intact. It’s not an easy job. In fact, I’m the first to admit designing cars is an almost impossible task. Look how many mediocre and disastrous cars there are littering our streets. Every two-bit jumped up car stylist in a black polo-necked sweater proclaims themselves an artist, their latest creation a work of art, whereas it is merely a fashionable object. The XJR is timeless. It is true to the company founder’s ethos: grace, space and genuine pace.

And on being bang-up-to-date, this car can glide in city traffic, or fly on motorway journeys. 0 to 60 in 5 secs. I have to mention the satellite navigation system, one of the most logical, easiest to use I have ever encountered. Any journalist complaining touching the screen to trigger functions leaves grease marks ought to wash their hands. Have they tried the ludicrously complicated BMW iDrive system? You have to take your eyes off the road, look down to twiddle a knob then check the screen on the dash, all to find the right function. If this is advanced German technology they can keep it. The Jaguar’s sound system is terrific too, but it should be, this is a luxury car. Press Sport Mode and there’s a little understeer on corners. I chuckled with delight every time the steering wheel moved up to allow me exit from the car, and back again when I entered. It may as well have been a butler bringing me a tray of sherry on returning home after a hard day at the stock exchange for it felt the same caring courtesy.

By now it will be obvious I am enormously impressed by this feline time capsule. UK roads are too narrow and crowded for XJR to show off to best advantage, but in Europe it will shine, and it’s perfect for American freeways and the wide boulevards of its cities. It is refined, agile, a great cruiser. Please don’t bother to wrap it. I’ll take it as it is.

Car tested: 2005 Jaguar XJR Supercharged V8.  $83,795.  
4-year warranty/50,000 miles. 
Technical detail: 
V8 Supercharged DOHC. 6 Speed automatic. 
256.1 cu-in/4196cc. 390 hp @ 6100 rpm.
Turns to lock: 2.8.
0-60: 5 secs.
0-100: 12.1 secs.
Braking: 60-0 in 121 feet.
MPG: 17-25.

Copyright © GARETH WARDELL July 2005

Announcement Of XJS From Jaguar

Jaguar today announces the detail of the new XJ saloon  - and why it is the most advanced production Jaguar ever.

On sale from spring 2003, the all-new XJ – already acclaimed for its stunning appearances in polished aluminium at the recent Paris and British motor shows -provides the blueprint for future intelligent manufacturing of large saloon cars.

With an aluminium monocoque structure that brings outstanding weight savings compared to conventional steel cars, the new XJ is lighter than the outgoing model by up to 200kg. This brings marked improvements in fuel economy and emissions and also provides excellent safety and crash protection. In addition, the lighter vehicle weight allows for increased performance across the board and great agility.

 "Using aluminium throughout, we have created a car that takes technology – and the application of technology – to new heights.  The new XJ is without doubt the most advanced Jaguar ever."

Mike Beasley, Managing Director, Jaguar Cars

The XJ saloon is the bedrock on which the Jaguar of today is based. Seven generations of XJ – from the very first XJ6 unveiled by Sir William Lyons in 1968, to the all-new model that made its public debut in September 2002  – have taken the mantle of the definitive Jaguar saloon. Total production since the first XJ model in 1968 is now comfortably past 800,000 cars – more than half of all Jaguars ever built.

Representing contemporary British automotive luxury at its best, each generation of XJ has delivered the blend of attractions that Jaguar customers demand: elegance, style, comfort and spirited performance.

The all-new XJ has all this and much more besides. Not only is it the ultimate expression of Jaguar luxury saloon car engineering, it is also the most advanced Jaguar ever.

Jaguar has a well-documented history of working with aluminium, but with the new XJ the technologies used have moved to an altogether different level.

Pioneering a new lightweight vehicle architecture that is centred on a conventional monocoque body structure rather than an unnecessarily exotic space-frame, Jaguar engineers have developed a car that is larger in every respect than the model it replaces and has more features and driver-assisting technologies – and yet weighs up to 200 kg less than the outgoing generation. Referring to a large saloon as a lightweight vehicle may seem incongruous, but the new XJ fully deserves – and earns – this label.

The benefits of a lightweight vehicle are in place all the time, from the moment the wheels start turning. In addition to measurables such as fuel economy, emissions and performance, the subjective issues of handling and ride also feature.

In the new XJ, Jaguar's engineers have created a vehicle that is very agile. It is also quicker and more economical than the outgoing generation. Comparing the new entry model, the 3.0 litre XJ6, with the previous 3.2 litre XJ8 reveals that the new XJ is 0.3 seconds quicker from standstill to 60mph and almost 15% per cent more economical in the combined cycle. A more direct model for model comparison between XJRs shows that the new XJ is quicker to 60 mph (5.0 seconds versus 5.3 seconds) and yet returns average fuel economy in the combined cycle of 23.0 against 22.4 mpg. Top speed of both vehicles is the same electronically limited 155mph.

These levels of customer gain in areas that are becoming ever more important, especially in the luxury sector, give the new Jaguar XJ significant advantages over its main competition. And that's without considering the driving experience, the traditional Jaguar attractions of craftsmanship, style and luxury, and the impressive array of driver-friendly technologies that make life behind the wheel of the new XJ more relaxing and enjoyable – and safer.

Four engines will be available and the full details of each can be found in the specifications section of this pack. Not all markets will take all engines, but the advanced six-speed ZF6HP automatic transmission – introduced in the spring of 2002 in the revised S-TYPE – is fitted to all models.

The weight of the new XJ has made it possible to bring back the famous XJ6 badge. It was an XJ6 that started the XJ story in September 1968, when the first generation of car was revealed at the British Motor Show.

The 240 bhp (DIN) 3.0-litre V6 engine in the new XJ is already familiar to S-TYPE and X-TYPE owners. A new 3.5-litre V8 with 262 bhp (DIN) becomes the entry point to eight-cylinder XJ motoring, while formidable 300 bhp (DIN) and 400 bhp (DIN) 4.2-litre V8 and 4.2-litre V8 supercharged engines power the top-of-the-range models.

Specification levels vary according to market, but in the UK trim levels run from V6 through Sport and SE to XJR and Super V8. It goes almost without saying that even the entry-level models have a very generous specification.

Designed to be engineered

Jaguar conducted extensive research programmes with existing customers and potential owners prior to commencing the new XJ programme.

The results of these identified that the XJ, the design of which originated in the 1960s, had to evolve to address the requirements of today's luxury saloon customers – including the demand for more interior space.

Addressing this without losing the distinctive proportions and character of the XJ was undeniably a challenge. Ian Callum, Jaguar Cars' Director of Design, worked with his team to deliver a car that is bigger in all respects than its predecessor with a more spacious interior. The exterior proportions are subtly transformed to reflect the added space for occupants and their luggage.

"The new XJ is a dynamic looking car," says Callum. "And when you position it alongside major competitors, it is also clearly very elegant. "

He continues: "This is a more modern car in terms of its proportions, and while for practical packaging reasons the boot and doors are larger, the slimmer glass-to-door ratio results in a truly contemporary design."

The new XJ design moves to a more cab-forward approach, positioning the front wheels closer to the corners, incorporating a shorter bonnet and a shallower rake angle for the larger windscreen.

The new bonnet retains the highly sculpted shape that is characteristic of the XJ over the years. Its leading edge – and indeed the leading edge of the wings – still wraps around the shape of the headlights, which themselves have evolved into a more distinct element of the front design.

The new XJ's dynamic design is also evident in its profile, says Callum. "It has a lot more of a 'wedge' now, starting dynamically at the front and powering toward the back. All the power is on the back wheels, something that has always been the case with a Jaguar."

The XJ design team succeeded in accommodating a higher decklid while retaining the classic Jaguar ‘haunched’ design, hinting at the new car's potential power and performance.

Precise weight-saving construction

With the basic design elements of a considerably larger car in place, the engineering team quickly realised that a breakthrough was needed to solve the weight dilemma. At the same time, the challenge was to enhance the performance capabilities and comprehensive list of luxury features the new XJ would offer its customers.

Compromise was unacceptable – and aluminium was the answer.

Intensive studies led by Jaguar engineers at the Whitley Engineering Centre in Coventry, UK had already exposed the potential value of an aluminium-intensive body structure joined in an innovative fashion using rivets and adhesives. It was soon very apparent that this was the direction to take.

"We chose the lightweight vehicle architecture for the new XJ not because it was something new," says XJ Chief Programme Engineer, David Scholes, "but because it would help us deliver significant benefits for our customers.  Ultimately, they may not care whether the body structure is aluminium or steel, but the Jaguar customer does care very much about performance, dynamics, fuel economy, emissions and safety. The choice was clear."

The new XJ's body structure comprises pressings of sheet aluminium combined with aluminium alloy extrusions and aluminium castings. Jaguar's engineers adopted the proven construction techniques of the aerospace industry to assemble this structure and in volume production, the new Jaguar XJ represents an industry-first use of rivet-bonding construction for an aluminium-intensive monocoque body.

Rivet-bonding uses self-piercing rivets and epoxy adhesives for strength, robustness and durability when joining aluminium pressings. The adhesives applied robotically during assembly, heat-cure to optimal strength during the vehicle painting process. Approaching 3,200 rivets are used in the construction of the new body.

The body of the new XJ is significantly stiffer – by 60 per cent – and lighter by 40 per cent than its predecessor. The strength of its architecture also represents a groundbreaking advance in crashworthiness.

In addition to the advanced nature of the body construction, the craftsmanship and precision evident in the new XJ are indicative of Jaguar's determination to ensure customers experience total satisfaction.

Panel gaps are smaller and even more precise than in the previous model. Door shut lines are designed with a uniform gap of 3.8 mm to the bumper, sill and an adjoining door.  The doors open wide – front doors to 62 degrees, rear doors to 65 degrees – to assure ease of entry and exit for occupants.

The bonnet and boot lid both use four-bar-link hinges equipped with gas-assisted struts, and gaps on these major closures are also extremely precise at 3.5 mm from bonnet to bumper and bootlid to bumper. Extensive use of lightweight components in key areas of the structure ensured the new XJ met the weight targets set by the engineering team. These areas include:

  • Bake-hardened aluminium sheet metal pressings for the new XJ's exterior panels, offering added resilience against dents and dings.
  • High-pressure vacuum aluminium die castings for suspension and driveline component mounting points, which are both lightweight and highly resistant to bending and contribute to the precision and comfort of the XJ's steering, ride and handling.
  • Aluminium alloy extrusions, utilised in the door structures for high strength against potential aerodynamic wind noise and for enhanced security, are also found in the front and rear bumper beams and used for floor and roof reinforcements.

In addition, magnesium – as strong as aluminium but 30 per cent lighter again – is used for the new XJ's seat frames and the cross-car beam that supports the dashboard, instrument panel and steering column.

The inside story

The new Jaguar XJ's luxurious interior has new levels of spaciousness, craftsmanship, ergonomic flexibility and seat comfort, complemented by entertainment, climate control and communications systems that reflect the needs of today's luxury car customers.

And yet alongside these practical considerations, the interior of the new XJ remains warm and inviting – a classic Jaguar interior. Despite the generous amount of space inside the cabin, the driver and passengers still feel cosseted, the ambience set off by real wood veneers and hand-stitched leather.

With significantly more headroom, legroom, shoulder room and rear-seat knee room, the new XJ interior provides a comfortable and relaxing environment for five adults.

The new seat designs were rated in Jaguar customer research as the most comfortable in their class. The 12- or 16-way adjustable front seats with electrically adjustable headrests are complemented by standard-fit electrically adjustable pedals and steering column, allowing drivers of widely varying statures to find the ideal driving position.

The new electronic parking brake, which eliminates the need for a traditional handbrake lever and also features drive away release, is itself an elegant design detail. Situated just behind the J-gate transmission shift lever, the electronic 'switch' frees additional space for the comfort of front-seat occupants.

Depending on model and customer requirements, there is a choice of three different options for rear seating configurations: a fixed bench seat for three passengers; a twin electric bench seat that accommodates three passengers; or individual twin electrically adjustable seats with a fixed centre console.

Overall, interior volume has increased not only for occupants but also for luggage. At 470 litres, the boot is more than 25 per cent larger than the previous XJ's – and even the glove box is bigger.

When XJ drivers and their passengers are comfortably settled in their seats, Jaguar's philosophy of incorporating relevant technologies quickly becomes evident. From the intuitive and relaxed interfaces between occupants and the vehicle systems – an approach that separates Jaguar from many of its competitors – to the electronic driver aids, the new XJ makes you feel instantly at home.

"You don't have to be a computer programmer to operate this car," comments David Scholes, XJ Chief Programme Engineer. "Our customers are emphatic in their opposition to gratuitous technology and unwanted features intruding on their driving experience; it should be there when you need it but should never impose itself."

The new Jaguar XJ's relevant technologies are centred on easing driver ergonomics, enhancing passenger comfort, expanding entertainment possibilities and developing voice-activated systems to reduce driver distractions.

Advanced telematics and communications technologies include a seven-inch (178 mm) LCD touchscreen display that provides fingertip control of climate, audio and DVD navigation systems (featuring postcode programming) and, where fitted, TV tuner and front/rear fixed GSM phones.

In the rear of the new XJ, a multimedia system allows passengers to access audio, TV/video and telephone systems independently of the driver and front seat passenger. As an example, the front passenger could be watching a television broadcast when stationary, while one of the rear passengers is viewing a film on DVD and the other rear passenger plays a video game.

Two 6.5 inch (165 mm) colour display screens, available as a separate cost option, are mounted in the rear of the front seat head restraints for video and TV viewing. Rear-seat passengers use optional headphones to listen to the audio output in comfort.

JaguarVoice, an industry-first when introduced on S-TYPE in 1999, provides drivers and rear passengers with access to voice-activated control of compatible Jaguar systems, including primary audio functions, teletext, telephone, climate control, navigation systems and in-vehicle displays.   Jaguar has made voice activation – a technology to reduce distraction when driving – an ongoing research priority.

High quality audio systems are another Jaguar trademark, and the new XJ is no exception. The eight-speaker sound system fitted to XJ6 and Sport models features a single-slot CD and radio, with the standard-fit six-disc CD autochanger located in the boot. The 320 watt Jaguar Premium sound system with 12 speakers, digital sound processing, power amplifier, subwoofers, as well as the remote six-disc CD changer and single-slot CD/radio, is fitted as standard on SE, XJR and Super V8 models.

Safety and crash repair

The new XJ features a comprehensive array of passive safety technologies, including Jaguar's sophisticated Adaptive Restraint Technology System (A.R.T.S.) but at its protective core is the strength of the aluminium body.

"Our target in developing the new Jaguar XJ was to produce one of the world's safest cars," explains David Scholes, XJ Chief Programme Engineer.  "And the body structure is the foundation of its excellent safety performance."

The new XJ has excellent crash protection and repair credentials, the aluminium-intensive body structure having already proven its strength in Jaguar's own 'real-world' crash-test programmes. Prior to the first XJ prototype crashing into a barrier, Jaguar engineers performed more than 500 computer-simulated crash events using sophisticated crash-modelling software and this was followed up by physical tests.

Being lighter than the equivalent steel body, the XJ body structure carries significantly less kinetic energy into a collision, reducing the amount of energy that has to be absorbed by the body in an accident. Front and rear crush zones in the body structure absorb crash energy progressively while protecting the integrity of the cabin, and the 'tube-in-tube' propshaft features built-in crush properties to absorb collision energy.

In addition, the new XJ has excellent side impact protection, resulting from a very strong centre pillar with a wide, tapered base, extruded aluminium lateral floor reinforcements, and door beam extrusions.

The architecture of the new XJ is engineered for ease of repairability, a key factor in the determination of insurance premiums. Engineering techniques used include a bolt-on front-end module – BOFE – that is designed to reduce the cost of repairing front-end collision damage. This can withstand an impact of 10 mph (15 km/h) without structural damage being inflicted, the assembly incorporating impact-absorbing properties between the front-end module and the body shell.