By contributing editor David Colman
- Interior of the Gods
- Pinball quality gear selected display
- Silence at cruise speed
- Too much chrome on air vents and central console
- Limited headroom front and rear
- No pass-through from trunk to passenger compartment
Let’s say you sell real estate. Upper-end homes. You could not pick a better form of transportation than the new XJ to transport prospective clients. Your choice of car will sell them on you before they even look at that new property. Jaguar has scored a perfect 10 on the cabin of the XJ. Although rated as a 5 passenger sedan, this Jaguar is more amenable with just 4 aboard. The rear seats are as comfortable as the fronts, with plenty of front and rear legroom for those over 6 feet tall. The tailoring of the interior is an alluring sight to behold when you order the $4,000 optional Luxury Package. Heated front and rear seat backs and cushions are resplendent in contrasting stitching and piping. The front buckets add a massage and cooling option to the mix. A dramatic sweep of satin finished Elm veneer embellishes the door panels as well as the entire semi-circle beneath the windshield. The carefully segmented steering wheel is festooned with so many aids and devices that it mimics the helm of a Formula 1 car. One of the most useful buttons activates the heater for the wheel itself. Another operates the convenient radar-regulated cruise control.
Like many luxury sedans with sporting pretensions, the XJ offers sizable paddles to operate its 6-speed automatic transmission. But the Jaguar goes everyone else one step better thanks to better displayed crucial information. When you engage “Manual” shift on the central console gear selector, a large red “S” illuminates on the dash and the left hand instrument face displays an oversize number to inform you which gear you have chosen. This numeral is further emphasized by its inclusion inside a target circle. Jaguar is able to offer this bit of extremely useful wizardry because the XJ does away with conventional gauges in favor of a virtual instrument cluster using LCD illumination on a thin film display panel. Every time you change gear manually, the numerical meatball instantly morphs its display into the next gear selected. It is a bewitchingly effective device that puts to shame all the so-called sports pretenders who bury this crucial information in 5 point type on some obscure spot of the instrument binnacle.
You’ll be using that slick-shifting 6-speed quite often, because the big Jag loves to run like the XK sportscar from which it was derived. Pulsing beneath the long hood is a 5 liter V8 producing 385 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. When you’re cruising along at 65 mph in top gear, the interior of the XJ is as silent as a liturgical service. But if you decide to drop down a gear or two in order to merge or pass, the growl of the potent V8 reminds you that this is a big game cat indeed. Like the refined drivetrain, the suspension is compliant enough to keep all passengers unflustered, but resilient enough to tackle twisty roads when the need arises. Pirelli P Zero rubber handles cornering duty with aplomb. 19 inch diameter wheels carrying 245/45R19 (front) and 275/40R19 (rear) plant lots of sticky rubber on the asphalt.
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