2012 JAGUAR XJ-SERIES XJ SUPERCHARGED
Used Car - 2012 Jaguar XJ-Series XJ Supercharged in Manassas, Va
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2012 Jaguar XJ-Series ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
Superb luxury sedan with heritage and sporting legacy.
The Jaguar XJ enhances Jaguar's legacy of sporting, stylish cars. The Jaguar XJ uses a smooth and satisfying 32-valve 5.0-liter V8 making 385 horsepower (470 hp in the Supercharged model), and a silky 6-speed automatic transmission. The XJ is designed to be a performance luxury sedan that succeeds in European markets. It aims to coddle and appease the luxury buyer and provide thrilling performance for the enthusiast driver.
Completely redesigned for 2011, the Jaguar XJ carries into 2012 unchanged save for some option packaging and some new interior color combinations.
Over decades, Jaguar has developed a reputation for building low-slung sedans with an impeccable blend of handling and comfort. This latest XJ suggests they are back on track after years of XJs that were not so exciting. The XJ was awarded 'Best Luxury Sedan' by Winding Road online magazine, in both 2011 and 2012.
The sleek XJ abandons the delicate roof pillars of the past, with a single flowing line from windshield to tail lamps. Longer than a BMW 7 Series or Mercedes S-Class, the Jaguar XJ won't be mistaken for anything else.
In the enveloping cabin, leather and wood are mixed in Italian shapes and English materials. Seat contour and bolstering seems appropriate to the car's mission; it's not too tight or sporty, and the driver's adjustable bolstering comes in handy on curvy roads. The standard full-length panoramic glass roof floods the cabin with natural light and offers a sense of spaciousness, as well as allowing a sleek coupe-like profile and lithe stance for which Jaguar cars are known.
The Jaguar XJL is a long-wheelbase model that adds nearly 5 inches to the overall length, with longer rear doors and glass. This increases rear legroom by 5 inches, making an expansive 44.1 inches of rear legroom total. The best ride quality comes with the Jaguar XJL with 19-inch wheels. Cars this long aren't meant to be canyon carvers or autocross warriors, but the Jaguar XJL also handles extremely well when driven hard in the corners.
Under the XJ body is a rigid and lightweight aluminum structure that contributes to this handling precision, and also to economy, acceleration, and ride comfort. Jaguar is the leader in sophisticated all-aluminum construction.
The 5.0-liter V8 engine, designed and produced at Jaguar facilities in Coventry, England, is all aluminum. It features 32 valves, direct injection, independent variable cam timing, cam profile switching, and a variable geometry inlet manifold. The 385-horsepower engine has more than enough power for any luxury sedan occasion, although you can go faster.
The Jaguar XJ Supercharged model adds 85 horsepower and 40 foot-pounds of torque, cutting one second off the 0-60 mph time, to less than 5 seconds. You have to boot the gas pedal to feel the difference, but when you do, it blows your shoes off.
The special-order Jaguar XJ Supersport adds another 40 horsepower and 40 more foot-pounds of torque. That one will blow your shoes and your socks off. The sixth-generation twin vortex Roots-type supercharger lacks the whine of old; it can't be heard because of the air intake that was designed to isolate and lose the supercharger whine.
The XJ is long-legged, meant to get up there at high speeds and stretch. It's so smooth and commanding that 90 mph feels like 70. In fact, it wants to run 90, not poke along at 70, so be careful.
The sweet 6-speed manual-automatic transmission uses adaptive gear-change strategies based on the type of road and the driver's application of the gas pedal. In manual mode, the transmission stays in the driver's chosen gear to redline, and the paddle shifts are sharp.
The XJ uses fully independent suspension, with steel springs in front for precision and air springs in back for the best level ride among varying loads. Ride quality and bump absorption is very good, even on 20-inch wheels over pock-marked roads and expansion joints. But with those 20-inch wheels and wide tires, at 70 mph the XJL tends to follow freeway grooves; at faster speeds, wide-tired Jag goes straight as an arrow.
The XJ uses big brake rotors and calipers, and giant ones on the supercharged models, with their top speed of 155 mph (electronically limited). The brakes are supported by the full suite of electronic controls. The stability control can be turned off, but we never found the need while testing the limits because the system is not intrusive at all.
The Jaguar XJ competes with the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Lexus LS, Maserati Quattroporte, Aston Martin Rapide, and Porsche Panamera.
The 2012 Jaguar XJ is offered in six models: XJ, XJ Supercharged, XJ Supersport, XJL, XJL Supercharged, XJL Supersport. A 385-hp 5.0-liter V8 powers the XJ; the Supercharged version gets a 470-hp version of the same engine, and the Supersport a 510-hp version. All use a 6-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive.
Standard features include leather upholstery and wood trim in at least four choices of each (or carbon fiber trim), canvas headliner, dual-zone climate control, power heated and ventilated front seats with memory, heated rear seats, electric tilt/telescopic and heated steering wheel with fingertip controls and shift paddles, panorama moonroof, touch-screen voice-recognition navigation, adaptive suspension dampers, blind-spot monitoring, bi-xenon headlamps, keyless entry/start, DVD/Sirius/HD radio, rear side window shades, power trunk lid, LED lighting inside and out, security system, and a no-touch, heat-sensitive glovebox release.
The Jaguar XJ ($73,700) may be equipped with the Luxury Package ($x4000), consisting of 20-way power front seats with massage, ventilated rear seats, four-zone climate control, electric rear window shade, suede cloth headliner and piped floor mats and leather upholstery. The long-wheelbase XJL ($80,700) includes the Luxury Package and offers rear seat business trays on the front seatbacks, six leather shades with up to three contrast-stitch and piping colors.
Jaguar XJ Supercharged ($88,600) and XJL Supercharged ($91,600) get larger brakes and an active rear differential in addition to the more power powerful engine, more upholstery color combinations, driver assist package with adaptive front lighting, cornering lamps, headlamp washers, intelligent high beam, active front seatbelts, and a Bowers & Wilkins audio system.
Jaguar XJ Supersport ($111,200) and XJL Supersport ($117,500), available by special order only, receive a 510-hp engine and the mechanical updates of the Supercharged model. They also include some unique cabin colors for the semi aniline leather upholstery and leather headliner, five unique wood trims including two with inlays and a piano black choice, and illuminated stainless steel door sills.
Options vary by model but all the features available on XJL Supersport may be added to the base XJ. Most models offer a trunk badge delete, ashtray/cigar lighter, and wood-and-leather steering wheel at no cost.
Safety features on all models include six airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, bind-spot monitors, tire-pressure monitors, and perimeter alarm. Active front seatbelts and active cruise control are optional.
The Jaguar XJ expands the work done with the mid-sized XF by bringing a more sporting, sleeker look to Jaguar's flagship that just oozes style. Central to this are lots of glass and no building-size pillars for a roofline that seamlessly blends into the trunk.
At more than 200 inches long the XJ is not a small car but it disguises its size well, much like the smallest Learjet more than three times the length of an XJL, and the XJ doesn't look nearly as imposing as a BMW 7 Series or Audi A8. The Lexus LS looks rather plain next to the Jaguar.
Surprisingly, the XJ design works as well on the standard wheelbase as it does on the long-wheelbase XJL. A larger rear door and side glass are the only way to differentiate them.
Pulling the lower door sheetmetal inward toward the rear wheel enhances the hips covering the rear tires. The only design element that incites any controversy is the black polycarbonate panel between the rear doors and rear window, a pillar normally body-colored on other cars. From dead astern it looks merely a wider rear window, but from any other angle it tends to look better on cars with dark paint or deeply tinted rear windows.
Exterior ornamentation is kept to a minimum with the requisite mesh chrome grilles and chrome spats in the outer lower nostrils, a badge behind the front wheel which includes supercharged if it applies, bright window trim, the trunk badge, Jag's leaper in the middle, chrome strip across the rear bumper and dual quadrangle tailpipes. Apart from larger standard wheels and the front fender badge there is no trim distinction between XJ and XJL or standard or supercharged cars.
With 152 light emitting diodes outside, the lighting elements take up where chrome leaves off. Front light housings carry two large and two small circular lights, with a strip of LED running lights below. The tail lamps are arranged as three vertical columns to mimic a cat's claws, and cleverly concealed in plain sight at the top of the rear light housing is a clear bump, like an animal's eye, that hides five red LEDs for side marker light duty to meet regulations without spoiling the flowing body lines.
The Jaguar XJ is a true flagship, filled with fine leather and wood, as much Scandinavian as English it seems. It's stylish, luxurious and sporty, although there are places in the design and materials that make us ask if this is the best Jaguar can do.
The XJ comes standard with leather of course, front seats both heated and cooled, with dual-zone climate control. XJL and supercharged models add piped leather upholstery and massage front seats with 20-way adjustment and four-zone climate control. The five upholstery choices include contrasting cabin trim, stitching and piping; Ivory can be paired with four colors. Some XJs have suede headliners. Supersport models get a unique leather color, four unique woods or piano black trim and a leather headliner.
A 1.5-inch band of wood (we like the walnut) or carbon fiber moves in a sweeping curve from the doors under the windshield like a gunwale on a small cabin cruiser, the outward bend providing an air of spaciousness. It's like a step, separating levels of horizontal leather on the dashboard. There's a hump and visor like a ballcap over the instruments, which are clear enough, but they aren't real, they're a rendition that look not unlike animation. The optional steering wheel is stylish and original, mostly leather with a thin wood band.
There are two fat climate control vents in the center of the dash, and two smaller ones at the edges. They look like the nose of a torpedo sticking out of its tubes, or a WW2 bomber engine without the propeller, and they have plastic chrome rings like a model of Saturn. They'd be perfect in a '58 Buick. There's an analog clock on the dash, with no numbers, just hard-to-read hashmarks, and more cheap chrome plastic. It's neither pretty nor functional. We can only guess that Jaguar thinks it's classy.
With all the seat adjustments, any size driver can get comfortable. Seat contour and bolstering seems appropriate to the car's mission, which is to say it's not too tight or sporty, and the driver's seat adjustable bolstering comes in handy on curvy roads. Rear seats are also comfortable and heated. XJL models add more than five inches to rear accommodation, making an expansive 44.1 inches of rear legroom total. The XJL costs $3000 more, so if you carry passengers or have a family it could be worth it, especially since the XJL weighs less than 100 pounds more. Reading lights, glass overhead, and venting add comfort to the rear.
The instrument panel is a 12.3-inch screen with renditions of analog gauges on it; it looks like animation, or like a decal of a gauge that you might find on a kids' pedal car. The tachometer needle doesn't seem to move as quickly as the engine revs. On the steering wheel, in addition to the cruise and audio control, there's a scroll surrounded by arrows that yields driver information; it's a piece leftover from when Jaguar was owned by Ford, as Fords have the exact same little dial. We found most of what we wanted to know, although we never figured out how to get the tachometer, odometer, and DTE (distance to empty) on the screen at the same time. Let alone the tachometer, which also kept disappearing if we pressed the wrong arrow at the wrong time. And besides DTE could only be accessed by a button on the turn-signal stalk. Jaguar makes it complicated.
The transmission gears are selected with a rotary dial that pops up on the console, except when you manually shift using paddles at the steering wheel. Above the shift dial are the audio and climate controls, and above them is the 8-inch touch-screen that we found to be a bit of a non-intuitive mess. We kept having to refer to the thick manual, and even then it felt like a mess. Naturally iPod other inputs are included, and the hard drive has enough space to rip 10 CDs uncompressed, a good thing as the available Bowers & Wilkins 20-speaker, 1.2-kilowatt sound system will clearly reproduce any fault in your source material.
Outward visibility is fairly good given the expanse of glass, and the bright bi-Xenon headlamps, although the passenger C pillar creates an over-the-shoulder blind spot. On the freeway, the standard blind-spot warning will alert you, although we're not major fans because of all the false alarms. We found the parking sensors so loud as to be distracting; perhaps this can be adjusted.
Trunk space is average for the class and impeccably finished down to the aluminum runners in the floor. Unlike some competitors with run-flat tires the Jaguar carries a spare under the floor (deleting the spare adds 3 cubic feet). The power trunk lid can be programmed for opening height lest you or your garage overhead is petite.
The Jaguar XJ's 385-hp V8 is no more powerful than the engines found in other cars in this class but the XJ is lighter by 300 to 400 pounds, thanks to its aluminum chassis and body, and that helps its acceleration and fuel mileage. The engine has more than enough power for any luxury sedan occasion.
But you can go faster. The Supercharged model adds 85 horsepower and 40 foot-pounds of torque, cutting one second off the 0-60 mph time, to less than 5 seconds. You have to boot the gas pedal to feel the difference, but when you do, it blows your shoes off. The special-order Supersport adds another 40 horsepower and 40 foot-pounds of torque. That one will blow your socks off.
We found all three V8s smooth as a bottler's private label, quiet at cruise or loping around town, while bringing a welcome throaty purr under heavier throttle. The sixth generation twin vortex Roots-type supercharger lacks the whine of old, and can't be heard even with the stereo off and windows windows down. That's because of the air intake that was designed to isolate and lose the supercharger whine.
The 5.0-liter engine is designed and produced at Jaguar facilities in Coventry, England. It's an all-aluminum 32-valve V8 featuring direct injection, independent variable cam timing, cam profile switching, and a variable geometry inlet manifold. The multi-hole direct injection system sprays pressurized fuel (up to 150 bar) into the center of the combustion chambers. The variable camshaft timing system has its own Jaguar spin, as well. The inlet camshaft profile switching changes the characteristics of the engine for the torque, power or economy that may be needed at any moment.
The XJ is long-legged, meant to get up there at high speeds and stretch. It's so smooth and commanding that 90 mph feels like 70. In fact, it wants to run 90, not poke along at 70, so be careful.
The XJ's sweet 6-speed manual-automatic transmission uses adaptive gear-change strategies based on the type of road and the driver's application of the gas pedal. This transmission anticipates well and shifts smoothly. In manual mode, the transmission stays in the driver's chosen gear to redline, and the paddle shifts are sharp.
The XJ uses fully independent suspension, with steel springs in front for precision and air springs in back for the best level ride among varying loads. Ride quality and bump absorption is very good, even on 20-inch wheels over pock-marked roads and expansion joints. Full air-suspended cars like the Mercedes S-Class have a slight edge in ultimate ride cushiness, but they haven't the steering precision of the Jag, while others have multiple electronic chassis controls to help deal with the weight but impart a sense of artificiality.
The XJ doesn't have such artificiality. Steering is light but firms up, as does the suspension damping, with the touch of a button. It may not post the ultimate handling numbers of an Aston Rapide or Maserati Quattroporte or Porsche Panamera, but the handling is balanced, the ride quality competitive, the look clearly better in one case, and the cost at least $20,000 less.
We did have one issue, however, which we believe to be caused by the wide 245/40YR20 front and 275/35YR20 rear tires. At 70 mph, over an unsmooth freeway, the car tends to wander with the grooves on the highway. We haven't felt this on XJ models with the standard 19-inch wheels; in fact, we've never felt it on any of the many XJs we've driven in previous years.
Big rotors and calipers, even bigger on supercharged cars, are backed up by the full suite of electronic controls. Although you can switch off the stability control, we never found the need while testing the limits because the system is not intrusive at all.
A standard-wheelbase XJ Supersport will be the quickest model and, depending on tires fitted, should be the best-handling as well. But the plain XJ managed just fine thank you, so think of the Supersport as the XJ to have if you think you want to drive a racetrack. If you think you want to get to a racetrack comfortably in minimum time, any XJ will do the job.
The Jaguar XJ does everything you expect in a luxury sedan, with room, amenities, quiet and thrust, with a sporty side always in the background that offers more driver interaction but one that never changes the car's personality. Eye-catching lines and serene cabins that marry contemporary design with both traditional and modern materials convey a sense of style that more antiseptic modern conveyances can only wish for, and that the XJ has the performance to back up.
Sam Moses filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report after his test drives of the XJ models near Portland, Oregon.
Jaguar XJ ($73,700), XJL ($80,700); XJ Supercharged ($88,600), XJL Supercharged ($91,600); XJ Supersport ($111,200), XJL Supersport ($117,500).
Castle Bromwich, England.
Options As Tested
Executive Package ($2500); Rear Seat Entertainment Center ($2200); wood and leather steering wheel ($500); 20-inch Kasuga wheels ($3500).
Jaguar XJL ($80,700).The XJ is Jaguar's top of the line model, known for pampering occupants with luxury amenities, a silky smooth ride and effortless power. The XJ is built on a light and strong all-aluminum structure. Three regular wheelbase trims are available; XJ, XJ Supercharged, and XJ Supersport. Three long wheelbase trims are also available; XJL Portfolio, XJL Supercharged, and XJL Supersport. Three variations of 5.0-liter V8 are available; a 385-hp naturally aspirated, a 470-hp supercharged, or a 510-hp supercharged. A six-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters sends power to the rear wheels. An adjustable air suspension is responsible for the XJ's impressive road handling abilities and luxurious ride. Safety features include dual front airbags, side curtain airbags, and front side-impact airbags. Anti-lock brakes, traction control, and electronic stability control are standard. For 2012, the XJ Supersport gains a standard rear seat entertainment system and the XJL Supersport receives added rear seat enhancements.