May 23, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Thursday, 14 April 2011 10:39
There was a fair amount of apprehension in the automotive world when Tata Motors of India took over the legendary British brands Jaguar and Land Rover in 2008.
After all, the West had only recently discovered Tata after the company introduced a tiny, ultra-cheap ($3,000) subcompact aimed at Indians who previously had never been able to buy a car. Even environmentalists were furious; they complained Tata was bringing the destructive automotive culture to the masses.Among automotive purists, a different issue arose: Could the company that conceived, designed and built the Nano bring anything but decline to the Range Rover and the XJ?
The answer is an emphatic no. Tata’s handling of the Jaguar and Land Rover brands has been respectful and constructive. The Jaguar XJ series, redesigned for the 2011 model year under Tata management, improves on its predecessor’s luxury and driving dynamics while retaining the unique look and personality of the Jaguar brand.
Our test car was the extended-length XJL, a stunningly beautiful car that is also more functional than the conventional XJ, thanks to its more spacious back seat. It’s base-priced at $79,700; options brought our Vapour Grey XJL to $86,825.
What sets the XJL apart from the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series, aside from its distinctive lines, is its light weight. The XJL weighs just 4,131 pounds because Jaguar uses aluminum where other automakers use steel. This lifts fuel economy to a respectable 22 mpg of premium gasoline on the highway, more than one would expect a 385-horsepower V-8 engine to deliver. It also makes the XJL feel unexpectedly nimble for a luxury sedan.
The XJL’s interior is a place of extreme luxury and class. The seats provide living-room comfort, with ample support when the driver is putting the Jaguar through its paces.
Most of the controls are simple and convenient. Our major complaint was with the optional, $2,200 rear-seat entertainment center. Intuitive, it’s not. We know how to operate DVD systems, of course, but during a trip to the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport, even our five-year-old passenger, who is well versed in such technology, couldn’t get it to work. We had to pull over and consult the owner’s manual at some length before we could coax Shrek onto the small screen.
Among the XJL’s many standard features are a blind-spot monitor; navigation system; panoramic glass sunroof; heated, massaging front seats; heated steering wheel; Sirius satellite radio; and lots of tastefully, meticulously applied leather, canvas and burled walnut surfaces. The one thing missing was all-wheel drive, which is not available in the XJ series — a potential deal breaker for Snow Belt drivers. (The rear-wheel-drive XJL’s standard-equipment list does include a winter mode, which regulates gear changes and engine response to improve performance in slippery conditions.)
Competitively priced considering its high levels of styling, standard features and Jaguar cachet, the XJ series starts at $72,700 for the regular-length version to the 510-horsepower, $113,200 XJL Supersport.
Engine: 5.0-liter V-8, 385 horsepower, 424 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with paddle shift
Weight: 4,131 lb.
Suspension: Double-wishbone front, multi-link rear
Wheels: 19-inch painted alloy
Tires: P275/40R19 105H all-season
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 15.2 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 21.7 gallons
Fuel economy: 15 mpg city, 22 mpg highway
Fuel type: Premium unleaded
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