I received my 42nd new car for review this past week, and it was a big one, the 2012 supercharged Jaguar XJL long-wheelbase rear-wheel drive sedan. It came with jet black leather interior and the paint was an out-of-this-world Lunar Gray metallic. It presented quite an imposing image setting out in the driveway of my house. And by big, I mean a wheelbase of 124.3”, or over TEN FEET! Through extensive use of aluminum construction, this 206.6” long elegant British beast only weighs in at 4,323 lbs.
Beautiful Jaguar XJ saloons (sedans) came out in 1968, and by 1972 were available in long-wheelbase configurations and with 12-cylinder engines. That year the company even included air conditioning as standard equipment (gasp!). These XJ’s had notable styling and two fuel tanks with filler caps at the forward corners of the trunk lid. The styling of the car represented the final link in that department with the company’s founder, Sir William Lyons (“Mr. Jaguar” 1901-1985). Up front the XJ (eXperimental Jaguar) saloons at that time had four distinctive headlight nacelles to enhance the styling mystique.
The current XJL that I got to test was the new style car introduced in the summer of 2009 at the Saatchi Gallery in London, complete with Jay Leno and Elle MacPherson on hand for glitz. When you’re talking about style, you’re talking about Jaguar, all the way back to that 1968 XJ, which while I was in college was the prettiest four-door sedan on earth. The way people in Greeley reacted this past week in streets and parking lots, I suspect not much has changed for the Big Cat. The only disparaging remark that I heard was a complaint about the lack of a “leaper”, made out of chrome and mounted on the hood. And while on the topic of looks, I’ll mention that I thought the black, glossy C-pillars joining the back glass with the rear door windows was an OK styling queue. The grill…….Oh Boy!
The M.S.R.P. of $94,175.00 included an “illumination package” for $1,700.00, freight, and the base of $91,600.00 for this supercharged model. A “Supersport” model with 510 horsepower is $26,000.00 more and a naturally-aspirated, 385 horsepower model can be had for $11,000.00 less. In the middle of their lineup, therefore, was the V-8 powered car I drove with 470 horsepower and 424 lb. ft. of torque. It is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Zero to 60 acceleration is reportedly 4.9 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph. I mentioned last week reaching 115 mph at High Plains Raceway in a car – well, it was this car. It handles very nicely on the track with its Dynamic Stability Control, calculating the appropriate suspension response 500 times per second to keep it flat and stable. Wheels are 20” Kasuga alloys with ten double spokes, fitted with Dunlop 255/35ZR20’s.
Inside the Jag, leather is everywhere, or so it seems. The front buckets can give your back a massage, and they cool and heat, as well. The gauges are “virtual”, like a laptop screen, with “torch” feature on the tach and speedometer. It’s like a flashlight shining on the speed you’re going at that instant. The supercharged XJ has tray tables on the back of the buckets, and a 1,200 watt, 20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins “rock-crusher” stereo. The automatic transmission gearshift is a round, chrome knob that rises out of the console when you fire up the car. I kept hitting the ignition when friends entered the car to show it off.
On balance, the Jaguar is an attractive, high-performance, luxury sedan, and if you’re in the price-point area code, it deserves consideration. I enjoyed my week with the Big Cat, and hated to see it go.