Test Drive: 2011 Jaguar XJL Supercharged Sedan

The new XJ Series represents an icon reimagined?

Jaguar has long been about beauty with a purpose ? elegant, striking, emotionally stirring designs, combined with spirited and capable performance. In essence, a bold yet luxurious, sporting vehicle with the heart of a racecar. Last year, the XF model Jaguar lineup was introduced, adhering to all of the above mentioned attributes, and just when you thought it couldn?t get any better, suddenly it has, in the stunning all-new 2011 form of the XJ series, which first appeared 42 years ago in 1968.

This latest XJ iteration may well be the most beautiful design form to come from the Jaguar design studios to date. Okay, there was the XK180 concept car with only two produced (a right and a left hand drive model) and the infamous XJ220. Jaguar Design Director, Ian Callum and his team have definitely outdone themselves in penning this latest iteration XJ Jaguar series, which is representative of the new direction of Jaguar, now owned by TaTa of East India.

Visually, even the long wheelbase XJ sedan personifies the form of a coupe with its graceful sweeping line from nose to tail, and the low curved cabin roof with blacked out ?B? pillar and chrome glass area surround. The front overhang is perceived to be shorter than it actually is due to the character line that arches over the pronounced front wheel well and continues along the beltline into a rear hipline, taillights and short rear deck. A sculpted lower rocker carries one?s eyes to a curved line over the rear wheel well that continues around the rear fascia. The bold hood lines curve inward to meet the strong mesh grille, flanked by the cat-like headlamp assembly. From the top, the windscreen carries into the panoramic glass roof and rear glass. The taillamps take on a vertical positioning that angles into the trunk line, emphasizing the broadness of the integrated rear fascia that houses the angled oval dual exhaust tips and rear diffuser. The vertical LEDs within the taillamps suggest the raking of a big cat?s claws. There are 14 exterior colors from which to choose.

The interior is as elegant and striking as the exterior with broad swept strokes accenting the symmetry and balance and highlighting the detailed craftsmanship that skillfully blend the materials into a luxurious yet functional array and ambience. Air inlets are round and are metal rather than plastic. The master gauge panel consists of a 12.5-inch TFT screen featuring crisp informational virtual gauges in analog form as well as a sub Nav feature accessible in the left?round gauge position, featuring 614,400 pixels. There are no main traditional gauges. There is also an 8-inch WVGA color touch screen for navigation, climate and audio functions. Standard audio includes 600 watts and 14 speakers.? 14 leather tones and 9 headliner materials are available to complement the chosen external finish. There are also 9 different wood veneers as well a carbon fiber treatment to suit individual tastes for the interior.

The 2011 Jaguar XJ will be available in several configurations: the XJ regular wheelbase in either normally aspirated or supercharged form; the XJL ? long wheelbase model, which measures 4.9-inches more in length than the XJ, also available either with a naturally aspirated or supercharged engine; and finally the XJ Super Sport in either regular wheelbase or long wheelbase. All are powered by an all-new 5.0-liter V8 with varying outputs. Standard in the XJ and XJL is a 385 horsepower version that produces 380 pound feet of torque. A supercharged version for both the XJ and XJL that generates 470 horsepower along with 424 pound feet of torque, and finally, the XJ and XJL Supersport models that deliver an optimum 510 horses and 461 pound feet of torque. All engines are positioned forward while driving the rear wheels and all qualify for a ULEVII rating ahead of required legislation.

The transmission consists of Jaguar?s DriveSelector with a pop-up rotary dial, which offers 6 automatic transmission gears with fully adaptive shifts and shift paddles as standard for all models. Also featured as part of the system are three drive modes to suit different driving styles and situations: Standard; Winter; and Dynamic.?

The 2011 Jaguar XJ series meets the following criteria in vehicle dynamics and character: it delivers agility and responsiveness while being comfortable and composed along with a direct steering feel with a quicker ratio that results in precise handling and a consistent connection to the road. Body roll has been reduced by 20 percent, and the tire diameter has been increased, as have the front and rear tracks. The ?A? pillar is thinner for better driver visibility. Body construction employs Jaguar?s advanced aluminum technology with 2,800 self-piercing rivets in combination with epoxy adhesive.

Among the many technological features of the XJ is: Blind Spot Monitoring; rear camera parking aid; Xenon headloights with intelligent High Beam; 20 way adjustable seats; a 15 cubic foot trunk with electric lid; laminated and water repellent glass; emergency brake control; and cornering brake control.

I was afforded the opportunity to drive both the normally aspirated and supercharged versions of the XJL, but spent more time in the supercharged model. My longer term test long wheelbase XJL sported a Vapour Grey metallic exterior finish, complemented by a Jet Black interior with white piping, highlighted by burl walnut veneer trim accents. The base price was set at $89,650 while adding the Transportation and Handling charges brought the final cost to $90,500.

SUMMARY: The 2011 XJL supercharged Jaguar is an exquisite driving machine that is sure to raise concern from competitors such as the Audi A8L, BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It is truly now in their league with no compromises to deal with.

The supercharged 5-0-liter V8 is a mighty force to be reckoned with, delivering stellar acceleration accompanied by a combination snarl/roaring rumble from the exhaust that is music to any gearheads ears. Press the start button, select a gear and choose the Dynamic mode and the tightening of the seat belts serves notice that a spirited romp is imminent. I took an occasion to pass in a safe but limited window, nailed the throttle and hit 110 mph in what seemed like no time at all, and the car wasn?t breathing hard at all.?

Gear changes are smooth in the fully automatic mode and without hesitation in the manual mode. The ride quality, though firm, is compliant and quite comfortable. Handling is precise and confidence inspiring, with the car remaining flat and stable on even the most challenging twists and turns.

The all-new XJ blends elegance, contemporary Jaguar styling, luxurious comfort? and state-of-the-art technologies with the stellar performance attributes and capability in an unquestionable desirable package, that is sure to become an iconic classic in the collectible marketplace.

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