2004 XJ New Car Test Drive
The Jaguar XJ series is all new for 2004. Jaguar's flagship luxury sedans are bigger than last year's models, and offer roomier, more comfortable cabins. The XJ8, Vanden Plas, and XJR are faster, safer, and more fuel-efficient than before.
Sleek, sensual, lithe, agile, elegant are just a few of the many positive words used to describe the venerable Jaguar XJ sedan during the 35 years it has graced the auto scene. Yet there have been some negative comments. Among them was that the XJ was too small inside.
It was imperative to increase the interior space in this new XJ if it were to be true large luxury sedan because we're all getting bigger, according to Jaguar's demographic research. The new XJ offers plenty of interior space for front passengers and dramatically increased room for rear passengers. As expected of Jaguar's flagship, the new XJ swaths its occupants in traditional British luxury with rich wood and leather while sparing us unnecessary gee-whiz features.
Sleek and big generally don't go together, yet Jaguar engineers and designers have craftily created a bigger car that doesn't look or feel bigger. Styling changes are subtle, but the XJ looks like a big cat ready to pounce. It is a beautiful car.
The XJ's dynamic looks are not deceptive. Stand on the gas and a powerful new 4.2-liter V8 engine thrusts the XJ8 to speed, benefiting from a new six-speed ZF automatic transmission. The 390-horsepower XJR sprints from 0 to 60 in just 5 seconds and hits its rev limiter at 155 mph. Once at speed, the XJ is smooth and quiet.
In spite of its substantial increase in size, the new XJ is considerably lighter than the old model. The XJ bodyshell is made entirely from aluminum. Lighter and stiffer, the new XJ monocoque is more like an airplane's fuselage than a traditional car body. In addition to its rigid new chassis, the XJ comes with a sophisticated suspension that offers a smooth ride and impressively good grip.
Sleek, sensual, lithe, agile, elegant are words that are even more apropos to the all-new XJ.
Jaguar XJ comes as three models. All are built on the same wheelbase and there is no V6 available.
XJ8 ($59,330) is the main model and it is powered by a 4.2-liter twin-cam V8 rated at 294 horsepower. Needless to say it includes a long list of luxury features as standard.
Vanden Plas ($68,330) has the same engine but adds extra luxury touches such as softer leather seats and rugs instead of carpets.
XJR ($74,330) tops the range, featuring a supercharged version of the V8 engine pumping out 390 horsepower. The R also gets a firmer suspension and larger Brembo brakes, plus bigger wheels and tires.
Options include a DVD navigation system, a DVD-based multimedia system, upgraded audio systems, and special wheels. Some options are only available on one or two of the three models. For example, the impressive rear-seat multimedia center is only available on the Vanden Plas and the XJR.