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Test Drive: Jaguar XJ
Design and execution of a world-class ride
Published Wednesday, June 5, 2013 11:37 am
by Winfred B. Cross


You’ve probably heard that owing certain cars puts you in the lap of luxury. I believe you can successfully make the argument that the Jaguar XJ is luxury’s lap itself.

Jaguar XJ coupe puts you in the lap of luxury.

It’s not a hard argument. Jaguar has always known how to make exquisite cars and this is one of the world’s best. Seriously. The design, execution and presentation of this comely beast are near perfect.

The exterior is really something. It scores a 9.8 on the gawk meter. Everywhere I stopped (and a few times in bumper to bumper traffic) I got asked “is that the new Jag?” Yes, it certainly is, I replied as I grinned ear to ear.

The sleek exterior is athletic, muscular and downright sexy. The most prominent feature is the chrome, mess grille. Jaguar has gotten rid of the leaping cat from the hood, which I miss, but it may not fit in with this new look. As a finishing touch, power vents have been added to each fender and they are nearly works of art. Each displays your car’s trim level if you have a supercharged, supersport or ultimate model.

The XJ’s interior is simply stunning. Leather, wood and bits and pieces of metal adorn the cabin. Leather is applied to the dash as well as the seats, door panels and steering wheel (which is heated). The dash houses virtual gauges, which are on a Thin Film Transistor display.

It’s full color and exceptionally sharp. The readout can be switched to several different options that include kilometers and fuel economy.

The leather is ridiculously soft and is available in softgrain, semi-aniline and semi-aniline tipped. The interiors are available in 24 different themes, 12 leather colors and 10 different veneers. My car had walnut and a crème-colored leather, which was soothing as well as handsome. The seats were oooooh so comfortable but supportive. I believe they could be adjusted in 20 different ways and offered messages. At night, phosphorus blue halo lighting gives you the feeling you are sitting in your living room watching a movie. Yes, the Meridian stereo includes DVD playback and exceptionally spatial stereo sound.

This thing could look good all day but if the driving dynamics are worth a darn then what do you have? Not to worry. This Jaguar has it. If you want this to be a luxury cruiser then yes, it can be that – not like an old Buick – but a finely crafted automobile that kinda wafts over bumps and lumps with composure and control.

For more oomph, the eight-speed transmission has a dynamic setting which changes the shift points. Set the traction control to Trac and it allows the wheels to spin more freely. The virtual gauges turn red to remind you of the sport mode.

With all those buttons pushed and switches flip, push the start/stop button, select drive on the gear selector which has rises from the console and you off on a spirited ride. Paddle shifters on the steering wheel add more fun to the party. This ZF transmission can shift very quickly. It takes 5.7 seconds for the 3.0-liter naturally aspirated engine to yank this car to 60 miles per hour. Not bad for what is essentially a family sedan.

In sport mode this car is quite delicious. The rear shocks continuously adjust to your type of driving. It digs into corners and sweeps around curves with attitude. If you want more sport there is a new XJR coming this fall or you can drop down a size to the XF (which will be in another post shortly).

The car’s amenities are a laundry list of what every luxury car should have: killer stereo by Meridian, sumptuous leather seats, full-roof moon roof, smart key, dual, or quad zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, burled walnut inlays, 12-inch color touch screen, rear camera, heated steering wheel, satellite radio, elegant analog clock, navigation and Bluetooth connectivity.

The intro price to he XJ is $73,200. There are several packages and options that can take this car past $100,000. I’d say my test car was near the mid $80s. Worth it? If I could stand at the top of Mt. Everest and yell, yes I would. Since I can’t, I’ll simply type it – yes.

This is certainly one of the best affordable (very relative term) cars to buy. It’s handsome, built to perfection and drives like a dream. Now, where is that $100,000 bill?



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