2012 Jaguar XJL SuperchargedPosted on August 2nd, 2012
Long-wheelbase luxury sedan is king of the highway
By Nina Russin
I’m going to go out on a limb, and say that any person who doesn’t have a visceral reaction to the Jaguar XJL sedan probably doesn’t have a pulse. Even individuals who aren’t car enthusiasts can’t help but be transfixed by the XJL exterior which is, in a word, breathtaking. It’s everything the fiercest cat in the jungle should be: long, lean and muscular. With its extreme aero profile, the XJL appears to be traveling at 100 miles-per-hour, whether or not it’s moving at all.
The XJL is the long-wheelbase version of Jaguar’s flagship high-luxury sedan. By adding five inches to the wheelbase as compared to the base model, engineers gave second-row passengers significantly more legroom. The XJL comes in three grades: the naturally-aspirated base, Supercharged and Supersport models. The engine-driven blower makes a huge difference in performance for the long-wheelbase sedan. Forty-three hundred pounds is a lot of mass to move off the line.
The supercharger enables the XJL’s direct injection V8 engine to achieve peak torque, 424 foot-pounds, at 2500 rpm. The manufacturer estimates zero-to-sixty acceleration at 4.9 seconds: a full half second faster than the naturally-aspirated car. Peak horsepower is 470: 85 more than the base XJ. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 miles-per-hour, which is a good thing, since it’s frightfully easy to reach in a hurry.
Base price for the XJL Supercharged is $91,600, excluding the $875 delivery charge. The test car comes equipped with one option: a $1700 illumination package which adds lighted door and trunks sills and illuminated air vents ($1700). MSRP is $94,175.
Powered for the open road
Its long wheelbase makes the Jaguar XJL a better choice for drivers who spend most of their time on the highway or wider roads. The sedan fits in my garage, but just barely. The turning circle is 41.7 feet: within a foot of the regular model, but too large to make U-turns a possibility. Parking on the street would require a larger-than-normal slot.
On the flip side, I can’t imagine a nicer sedan for an extended road trip. The Jaguar XJL is quiet, powerful and has ride-and-handling features on par with much smaller sport sedans. I spent the past week behind the wheel of Jaguar’s luxury sedan, driving it around Phoenix’s east valley as well as some roads in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains.
Throttle response from the supercharged V8 engine is excellent. In the shuffle of cars merging out of highway toll booths, the XJL will undoubtedly come out on top. A six-speed automatic transmission progresses crisply through the gears. The large overdrive gear pushes fuel economy on the highway to 21 miles-per-gallon, which is pretty good for a car of this size. The sedan’s 0.29 coefficient of drag extends gas mileage as well.
The driver can choose between two performance modes: normal for motoring around town, and sport for more aggressive performance. Formula-style paddle shifters on the steering wheel work in both modes, but in sport mode, the driver can hold on to the gears as long as he wants. In normal mode, the transmission defaults back to “drive” after about a minute in a chosen gear.
By using high percentages of aluminum and high-strength steel in the chassis, engineers optimized steering feedback. Standard 20-inch alloy wheels and tires give the XJL an ample footprint without contributing excessively to unsprung weight.
The power steering system offers ample assist at low speeds, while maintaining positive on-center response on the highway. An active differential enhances the rear-wheel drive sedan’s traction on wet and snow-covered roads. A winter mode on the transmission starts the car in a higher gear when accelerating from a stop in the snow, to prevent the wheels from spinning.
The four-wheel independent suspension consists of a double wishbone setup in front and multi-links in back, with stabilizer bars on both axles. It is pleasantly compliant in normal mode for driving on uneven urban streets. In sport mode, shock and spring rates are stiffer, giving the XJL the ability to absorb jousts from ruts and pitchy hills without bottoming out.
Visibility to the front and sides is good, but a small rear window creates large blind spots in the back. A standard rearview camera makes this a non-issue when the driver shifts into reverse. However, on the highway, I had problems seeing some lower profile cars in the rearview mirror.
A standard blind spot monitoring system projects LED signals in the side mirrors when vehicles to either side pass through the driver’s blind spots. This is especially helpful for such a large car, making it much easier to weave through dense traffic on the highway.
Standard adaptive bi-xenon headlamps automatically swivel according to steering input, to light corners of the road in dark suburban and rural areas.
The XJL interior is every bit as exquisite as the exterior, with beautifully-crafted two-tone leather upholstery. Keyless entry and start is standard equipment. When the driver fires the ignition, a rotary dial rises out of the center console. The driver uses the dial to select gears in lieu of a traditional shift lever.
Both the driver and front passenger seats come with three-position seat memory, so multiple family members can share the vehicle. Both the first and second-row outboard seats have heating and cooling functions to keep passengers comfortable in temperature extremes. Air vents behind the center console circulate air through the back of the cabin.
The gauge cluster consists of three analog displays which include the speedometer, fuel gauge and odometer. A digital readout in the gauge cluster gives the driver trip meter readings, audio settings and ambient temperature.
The center stack screen displays images from the rearview camera, navigation, audio and information settings. Because of the windshield’s severe rake, I noticed that both screens tended to wash out in bright sunlight. Redundant steering wheel controls enable the driver to utilize the Bluetooth interface, cruise control and change audio channels with minimal distraction.
The dual-panel panorama sunroof brings and abundance of ambient light inside the interior. Overhead reading lamps illuminate the sedan at night.
A standard 1200 watt Bowers & Wilkins 7.1 surround sound audio system provides exceptional sound quality, on par with very high end home systems.
A large center console bin with a 12-volt power point, USB and auxiliary outlets along with a large glovebox provide secure storage inside the passenger compartment. In back, a fold-down armrest includes a couple of small bins and two additional cupholders.
Designers anticipated that businessmen would use the XJL as mobile offices. Fold-down writing surfaces give rear passengers a place to open up computers while on the road. Electronic sunshades give those seated in back an extra measure of privacy.
Because of its extended wheelbase, leg, hip and headroom in the second-row outboard seats is abundant. A tall floor tunnel limits legroom in the center position.
The trunk is rather small for a sedan of this size. It is narrow and not particularly deep, due to the car’s aero profile. It can easily hold luggage, golf bags and groceries, but larger gear would be a challenge to fit inside.
The Jaguar XJL Supercharged comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, adaptive xenon headlamps, active head restraints, tire pressure monitoring, traction and stability control.
Jaguar’s flagship high luxury sedan is on display at dealerships nationwide.
Like: The supercharged version of Jaguar’s XJ sedan combines exceptional power and performance with outstanding design. The long-wheelbase version gives second-row passengers five additional inches of legroom, enabling businessmen to use the vehicle as a mobile office.
Dislike: Small rear window limits visibility to the back.
Model: XJL Supercharged
Base price: $91,600
As tested: $94,175
Horsepower: 470 Hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 424 lbs.-ft. @ 2500 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 4.9 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy*: 15/21 mpg city/highway
Comment: *The manufacturer requires the use of premium unleaded gasoline.
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