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Old 11-08-2004, 05:44   #1 (permalink)
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Jaguar Super V-8

Jaguar Super V-8

The biggest cat to come from Coventry.

BY TONY SWAN/CAR&DRIVER
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFFREY G. RUSSELL



There are those who will tell you that size doesn't really matter; that longer and bigger don't necessarily equate with better. Don't you believe it—not if you plan to ferry rear-seat passengers around, and have them emerge from these voyages still calling you friend. It's hard for folks to feel gracious when their knees have been rubbing against a seatback for considerable periods of time.

That's what this car is all about. The wheelbase has been extended from the 119.4 inches of the standard XJ sedans to 124.4 inches, and all of that 5.0-inch stretch has been deeded over to rear-seat denizens.



As new goes, this doesn't rival the invention of the wheel; Jaguar offered a long-wheelbase version of the previous XJ. The difference is that this time the starting point for the stretch is a sedan that gets good marks for roominess. So adding five inches to the equation (4.9 inches in overall length) yields the longest Jaguar ever made, with a rear cabin that's just this side of a small but nicely upholstered den.

Okay, no bookshelves loaded with first-edition Dickens, and no rack stocked with Balvenie single malt. But there's enough soft leather to clothe a squadron of bomber pilots, plus fold-down trays in the front seatbacks and a pair of DVD screens built into the front-seat headrests, should the passengers grow weary of the scenery.

Beyond that, the added space allows occupants a range of movement worthy of that in a limo, although the folded-up center armrest doesn't make a very comfortable seatback. Like most sedans, the Jag is rated for five passengers but provides true bliss for no more than four.

Another benefit of the stretched wheelbase is improved rear-seat access. The rear doors are five inches longer than the corresponding portals of the short-wheelbase XJ, enhancing the sense of limousinity.

Although the aluminum-intensive XJ-sedan series is light by the standards of its class, dimensional increase usually begets increased mass, and that's true here. Jaguar publicity materials cite the weight gain as either 44 or 53 pounds, but the C/D scales measured 4098 pounds, 98 more than the XJR, 260 more than the XJ8 we tested in December 2003.

The XJR makes the better comparison, because our test car is equipped with (and named for) Jaguar's "super V-8," the same supercharged and intercooled 4.2-liter DOHC 32-valve aluminum engine that propels the XJR, as well as the S-type R: 390 horsepower, 399 pound-feet of torque.

With identical power and a modest weight disparity, we expected the long-wheelbase Jag to deliver scoot that would rival the XJR's torrid 4.8 seconds to 60 and 13.4 seconds at 105 mph in the quarter-mile. Nope. The bigger XJ took almost a second more to 60 (5.7 seconds) and covered the quarter in 14.1 at 101.

Pretty sizable disparities, but then again, 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds is far from slow, and if the king-size cat doesn't sprint quite as quickly as the XJR, it still delivers that sense of massive hydraulic rush when the driver summons more thrust.

Thrust is always a plus, but the bottom line here is elegant, roomy transport of a high order, with the bonus of brisk performance. The Super V-8 isn't particularly athletic, a consequence of its longer wheelbase and softer suspension tuning. On the other hand, it still delivers a strong measure of the all-around competence that distinguishes high-end Euro sedans, as well as a smoother ride than the XJR. And the small weight increase and the extended wheelbase have no effect on braking performance, which continues to produce sports-car stopping distances: 164 feet from 70 mph.

More Jag means more money. The Super V-8 lists for $89,995, a $15,000 premium over the XJR. At a glance, that appears to work out to a rather hefty $3000 extra per inch. But that's simplistic, since the Super V-8 includes every goodie on the XJ options list—nav, DVD, heated power-adjustable rear seats, killer audio, power sunroof, adaptive cruise control, proximity warning—as standard equipment. Not to mention the new grille and wheels that distinguish the '05 XJ range.

Back to the premise, the relationship between bigger and better. If you prioritize sprint speed and feline agility, the Super V-8 may not be your kind of kitty. But for speed with grace, style, and comfort, this biggest of cats is tough to top.



Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
Price as tested: $89,995 (base price: $89,995)
Engine type: supercharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
Displacement: 256 cu in, 4196cc
Power (SAE net): 390 bhp @ 6100 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 399 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 124.4 in
Length/width/height: 205.3/76.5/57.3 in
Curb weight: 4098 lb

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Zero to 60 mph: 5.7 sec
Zero to 100 mph: .14.1 sec
Zero to 130 mph: .26.7 sec
Street start, 5-60 mph: 5.9 sec
Standing 1/4-mile: 14.1 sec @ 101 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 156 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 164 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.84 g
EPA fuel economy, city driving: 17 mpg
C/D-observed fuel economy: 16 mpg
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My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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