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2010 Jaguar XJ

2010 Jaguar XJ Reviews
Overall rating:  Product Rating: 5.0

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XJ marks a bright future for Jaguar !


by bigtruckseries:      May 21, 2010 - Updated Oct 14, 2012


Product Rating: 5.0 Recommended: Yes 

Pros: BEAUTIFUL!?! Awesome value: power, technology and driving dynamics
Cons: some design issues
The Bottom Line: Like the XF before it, the XJ continues the reinvention of Jaguar's cars for the  digital technology age.


WATCH THE VIDEO ON YOUTUBE:   
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbPWHgerabY
 

The car I am reviewing is the English-built, Jaguar XJ SUPERCHARGED – L (Long wheel base) model which increases the  overall length of the standard XJ  from 201.7 inches to 206.6 and increases legroom in the second row  by 5.2 inches (from the standard model’s  38.9). This car features Jaguar’s supercharged  470 Horsepower 5.0 Liter V8  and is the 3rd possible upgrade from the standard XJ which features a  385HP 5.0 Liter V8.
 
Originally, I wanted to test the standard XJ-L but apparently, this car is in very scarce availability right now since its new to the showrooms, according to the manager, who politely gave me access to this $91,000 beast.


DESIGN
 
The interior of the new XJ is stunning and opulent. Its sure to be the car’s most talked about feature.  Virtually all of the interior is made of wood, leather, suede or chrome.   Unlike the smaller XF, the XJ shows virtually no plastic.
 
For me, the most defining feature of the car is the wraparound wood veneer which creates a landscaped boundary between the dashboard and the windshield. In the center are the words “Jaguar” in chrome – just in case you forgot.   Then my eyes drift to the shiny chrome of everything else.  The air louvers,  armrest switch,  headrest adjusters, analog clock and virtually anything else that isn’t made of leather is made of cold chrome.

The 20-Way power seats are all immaculately formed and include climate control standard. In the high end models, a massage feature is also standard.  Bolstering isn't thick enough to evoke the sense of racing, but, that's OK because I'm sure most buyers of this car will be mature and  not be interested in pushing this car to its lateral limits.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the interior are the bright colors and the attempt to let maximum light into the car with the gently sloping windshields and the dual panel moonroof. This is one greenhouse that completely defeats claustrophobia and lets your inner rich man enjoy the sights regardless the troubles outside. Its simply beautiful in here.   The model I drove featured “London Tan” leather with Navy blue stitching and Burl Walnut wood.   While I was definitely more impressed with this “orange” tone more than I was in the equivalent BMW 750 color scheme, there are even more attractive colors to be found, like the “purple”  Parchment Aniline Leather with Bordeaux stitch and matching fascia.
 
Interestingly, Jaguar dropped the auto rotating air vents they introduced on the XF from the design of this new XJ and merely left the XF’s  rotating shift knob.  This is one feature that will take some getting used to. Anyone who’s ever been in an iDrive equipped BMW, or a COMAND equipped Benz would likely reach for this knob and attempt to manipulate on screen images.  

Outside, the XJ is a love it/hate it affair. My biggest problem is probably the headlights which too closely resemble the half closed eyelids of the Jaguar XF- Concept.  This design leaves too little headlight, and too much air dam up front.  Virtually every other luxury manufacturer has gotten headlamp fixtures right  but these simply look too dull.
 
The rear of the car, however, works very well with a muted bustleback trunk and seashell-like lighting fixtures that won’t be mistaken for any other car on the road.  The side profile definitely “keeps it clean” with very few accents – a lack of side bumper guards – and small fender flares, but, the next love it/hate it  aspect is to be found in the C-pillars which offer a funky, high gloss, plastic-like, design and look as if they’ve been snatched off a 2011 Sonata.  They simply don’t look like they should be part of this car.

The one feature I would have liked to see would have been a pillarless coupe trim similar to Mercedes' CL550. I felt the B-pillar was too thick and added to the coupish windows, some people might have issues with visibility. Of course, when cars go this long, the B pillar is important to maintain structural rigidity and prevent twisting. 
 
In the backseat, the all wood, all chrome, all leather theme continues. Naturally there are heated/cooled rear seats, but, other amenities include available rear seat dual headrest DVD players and standard  wood adorned, seat mounted  tray tables which can accommodate most Netbooks  or Grey Poupon jars. If you had a blindfold on you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this backseat and the backseat of the Bentley Azure-T which I was in 3 weeks ago.  So long as your front driver is average height, there is plenty of space in either rear seat, but, If your driver is my height, rear seat space decreases pretty quickly as the seat inches back.
 
I’ve been searching for interior details and clues online because the first thought that hit me when I climbed into the XJ was “Lincoln MKS”. Virtually every dimension of this car’s interior reminded me squarely of the Lincoln. Everything from the view of the backseat from the front, to the cockpit seating upfront to the way the ultraview moonroof’s headliner was designed felt like that car.

I was however slightly shocked at the lack of trunk space.There is a standard rubber no-skid liner included, but, the space is visualy small and you aren't getting alot of golf bags or suitcases in there. The Jag's official measurements is 15.2 cubes. That's compared to S550's 16.4, BMW 7's  14.0 and MKS's ridiculous 20.1 cubes! 


TECHNOLOGY
 
Jaguar’s designers stuffed this car with technology and decided to integrate all of it into the car’s navigation display in the centerstack. Its something that virtually all the luxury car manufacturers are doing at this point, but very few are getting just right.
 
Standard features include a 30GB Hard Drive which complements the Navigation system. You can put in CD’s and rip them automatically to the hard drive, encoding them as MP3’s, or, you can plug in up to 2 USB thumbdrives to listen to several types of digital audio files. Full iPod/iPhone integration is standard and the touchscreen allows you to either pipe music through the USB connections or use your  Bluetooth 2.0 connection to dial calls  from your uploaded phonebook.
 
Jaguar has created a vivid 12.3 inch “virtual instrument panel”  that projects high definition images of your speedometer, tachometer and fuel gauge.  The coolest thing about this feature is that if you are using the Navigation system, the navigation map can be routed from the 8” touchscreen to the dash display so you don’t need to look  away from the road as much.  Virtually all the other features of the car’s computer settings can also be set via the in-dash display or the center stack display.  My S550 has this feature, but my in-dash display is much smaller  while the XJ’s is widescreened.   I hope all luxury manufacturers go this route in the future.

Sound quality from the 1200 Watt Bowers&Wilkins 20 speaker/ dual subwoofer surround sound system beg for you to turn up Metallica's Disposable Heroes. Turn it wayyyy up !!!  Or...perhaps your front seat passenger can watch a DVD while you can only see the car's Navigation system - thanks to the restricted dual view HD screen technology.

Unfortunately,  touchscreen computing is definitely not the way to go when you have this many features.  Some people will disagree with me, but, I believe BMW’s iDrive, Audi’s MMI and Mercedes Benz’s Command systems were better designed because of a little thing called “system redundancy”.  Simply put, there are multiple ways you can open a feature in the system computer before you adjust it.  In the XJ,  you must go through every single menu screen by reaching and touching buttons.  Meanwhile, the 3 Germans designs allow you to rest your right arm while simply manipulating a knob  to reach individual settings. In my S550, I can automatically cut to the seat controls  by pressing a single button on the console in order to adjust massage pressure, seat auto-bolstering, air cooling/ heating, or the power lumbar. In the Jaguar, those controls take more navigation of the on-screen menus.   Sorry Jaguar, but I want to laze out all over those seats without having to do much more than turn the steering wheel! 

Not to mention the capacitance of the screen tends to be irresponsive and a bit confusing - just like menu navigation in the XF was.   Sure there are voice controls, but just like Ford/Microsoft SYNC,  they are “say what you see” and require extensive eyes off the road attention to be used.
 
I’ m very happy to see the XJ-L comes with standard heating/cooling for its seats and featured massage motors but, I’d have preferred if the adjustments for those systems were analog instead of digital.  Mercedes S-Class sets the bar in this regard.

I also prefer the S’ steering wheel to the Jag’s. For one, the buttons are much to *clicky*. I feel the steering wheel controls should make no more sound than a light *thunk*. Any thing else seems cheaply made to me.   And why can’t Jaguar give us options for the design of the virtual gauges? Hasn’t anyone in their computer design team heard of “skins”?  Even Ford did that for its hybrid Fusion/Milan.


DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

The areas where I drove the XJ ranged from highway, to suburban roads with potholes and speed bumps. Not only did I drive this car long enough to tire from it, the manager of the store also drove while I rode shotgun – explaining all the features to me.
 
I really wanted to test the regular XJ, but again, there weren’t any. I assume the majority of buyers would be aiming for the low end model because of the considerably lower price tag ($73,000  vs. this model’s  $91,000 entry point).
 
The last big car I drove this fast was my uncle’s new Lincoln MKS Ecoboost which accelerates its 4305lbs to 60 in just under 5 and a half seconds. That twin turbo V6 engine produced 350 pound feet of torque  at 3500 RPM.  Though it was as fast as stank, the problem with the car was the lack of steering agility.   The XJL is only a few pounds more than the MKS (4323lbs curb)  but weighs over 100 pounds less than my S550 (4455lbs curb)  and over 200 pounds less than BMW’s new 7 ( 4564lbs curb).  Considering the $87,000 Supercharged XJ without the longer wheelbase weighs just 4281 lbs (curb)  the Jaguar offers superior power –to-weight.  
This big kitty gets to 60 in under 5 seconds under the lead foot. This is effectively a 13 second car… (or better).
  
An extra $20,000 gets you into the $133,000 XJ-L Supersport with 510 HP that reduces  your 0-60 to about 4.7 seconds.
 
Of course, if the recession’s got ya’ down, there’s always the $73,000 385HP base model - which is still pretty powerful  - producing  380 pound feet of torque and getting you to 60 in a respectable 5.4 seconds.

But I doubt corporate bigwhigs buying cars like this are buying them to post quarter mile times. They buy them for serenity at high speeds and most of all, to be seen in them.  Unfortunately, the Jaguar was slightly less than serene. I was struck by how much road noise and exterior noise I could hear. I could hear more grumbling of the road here than in the MKS, my car and the 7 series.  Pot holes and pits created more jarring than I imagined they would and even with the powerful A/C on full blast, I could still discriminate more low frequency vibration from the outside than I’d expect from a car this expensive.
 
The Jaguar suspension is definitely tuned more for sport than for comfort, which serves to keep you intimate with the road. All of this is controlled via computer, which uses dynamic suspension settings to firm up or soften the ride as its protocols suggest.  In the event of aggressive maneuvers, the computer stiffens the suspension.
 
Steering response manages to be remarkably sharp. Considering the steering rack and some other key components are derived from the smaller and lighter XFR,  you can simply drive in awe, savoring the lightness and reaction speeds.  The front end gets steel coil springs while the rear gets an air suspension.  Part of the reason for this is  Jaguar’s desire to keep the car’s pitch and roll balanced  when factoring in the large range of mass distributions you can have when you factor in luggage and rear passengers.  Overall, I think the setup works well. Transmission shifts also manage to be smooth using the paddles or just letting the car do so automatically.  

The engine proved to be just as potent as the manager suggested I should expect from a supercharged block. "You won't get the lag typically found in turbocharged engines". Yes, the acceleration was quite smooth all the way up from 0 to the low 80's.  This isn't, however, the first time I've used a lag-less turbo/ Both the Ecoboost MKS and Taurus SHO offered lag-free power too. When you factor in the 461 pound feet of torque provided in the low end 3500RPM range you get jet-like acceleration.  There are very few big bodied luxury cars that can hang with you in this price range.
  
To get this level of performance you’d have to spring way more for either an S63 AMG or a BMW 760 - both of which run more than $130,000 similarly equipped.



OPTIONS
 
Fortunately, the Jaguar XJ-L comes with just about everything standard. I’m very happy about this because one thing I hated about shopping for a German luxo-barge was having to find lesser ordered options like massage seats, parking sensors  and adaptive cruise control.  The only main options to consider are:
 
$2200 Adaptive Cruise Control  - a feature many cars are offering now which uses bumper mounted sensors and cruise control to maintain safe following distances in light highway traffic. This feature supplements the  Emergency braking feature which pre-charges the brakes if the computer senses there is an impending crash.

$350  Heated windshield
 - reduces the amount of time needed to defrost the windshield in winter conditions.   The glass is also designed to reduce solar ray intrusion and is laminated with a hydrophobic substance to reduce  or eliminate fogging  - along with  rain sensing windshield wipers that activate automatically if desired.
 
20” Chrome wheels are standard, but, there are options for low rolling resistance 20”s and  Z-rated Summer performance tires to the tune of $2000.



OVERALL
 
This XJ is a huge departure from the design of the big cats predating it. The new emphasis is on sharp design and technology, while the old models focused more on classic, traditional and time-honored style.  How else do you compete with the Teutons and the Nippons?

I loved the new direction marked by the XF and I am thoroughly satisfied that the XJ continues that game plan. This car is sure to turn heads and possibly give big body luxury buyers another choice when they want something different and atypical of what everyone else is driving.
 
The interior of the XJ is adorned with richness.  Though the blue hues of the lighting can be a little disorienting, the interior quality is still top notch.   I’ll admit I'm not sold on the Jaguar drive selector knob.  Though there are useful paddle shifters for those who want to experience manu-matic shifting, the gear shift is nowhere near as appealing to me as an analog computer dial.
 
Are you in the market for a $90,000 big body for ultra comfortable ride quality?   Well, if you are, I suggest you cross shop the S550 with this car before you make a final decision.  S550 offers uncompromising space and unparalleled ride quality in both the front and the back for the tallest and largest among us.
 
If its driving dynamics, you might wanna’ look at the BMW 7 series which moves its mass like magic into and out of corners like greased lightning.  The front seat is more restricted than the Jag but the back seat is considerably larger.
 
If, however, you are looking for sharp design statements, vivacious colors, blistering acceleration and uniqueness, the Jaguar XJ just might be for you.



OTHER LUXURY CARS


JAGUAR XF  http://www.epinions.com/content_432956739204


MERCEDES BENZ S400 HYBRID http://www.epinions.com/content_487024594564

MERCEDES BENZ S550 http://www.epinions.com/content_252095073924

MERCEDES BENZ S63 AMG  http://www.epinions.com/content_486620958340

2009 BMW 7 http://www.epinions.com/content_478005988996
Amount Paid (US$): 100,000
Condition: New
Model and Options: XJ-L
Product Rating: 5.0
Recommended: Yes 
Roominess:  
Build Quality  
Seat Comfort:  

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