Jaguar's all-new 2011 JAGUAR XJ
has little room for error. Its competitive set is growing to include more than just the usual suspects from Mercedes Benz A
nd BMW. New threats from Germany (next-gen Audi A8
) and even Korea (soon-to-arrive Equus) are emerging on the luxury sedan landscape, and the big Brit will need to impress both inside and out to keep pace.
The new Jag flagship certainly makes a splash in the design department. It's a look that's both bold and attractive and serves as a massive departure from the outgoing model, which had become staid and boring after decades of little more than design tweaks between generations.
What never gets boring is unleashing the 470 ponies generated by the supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 that powers the 2011 XJL Supercharged we recently had in for testing. And whether you're cruising at a leisurely pace or stomping on the gas pedal from a stoplight, its six-speed automatic transmission is smooth and almost always unnoticeable. Accelerating from 0-60 mph will take just 4.4 seconds.
Supercharged JAGUAR XJ
models come with Jaguar's Active Dynamics system, which continuously adjusts the suspension settings through electronically controlled dampers. The XJ's structure is still aluminum, and Jaguar
claims body roll has been reduced by some 20 percent. We found ride and handling to err on the luxury side of the equation, though the car never felt difficult to control on narrow winding roads in either its standard or dynamic drive modes. Lateral acceleration on a 200-foot skidpad measured 0.88 g, a solid number for a car this big.
Our MT Figure Eight test yielded more strong results: 24.8 seconds at 0.75g. That's more than a second faster than the last Mercedes Benz S
550 and Bmw 7
50i we tested, which rounded the course in 26.0 seconds at 0.71 g. The Jag's lighter weight than the competition and its overall distribution - 51/49 front to rear - no doubt played a role. Braking from 60-0 mph is also noteworthy. The Jaguar
came to a stop in 103 feet, compared to 115 feet for the Bmw
and the Benz.