Jaguar XJ Super V8
By Craig Cheetham
Every manufacturer needs a flagship - a car to which even owners of some of its most upmarket models can still aspire. It's been a long wait, but Jaguar has at last added a range-topper to the XJ line-up.
The long-wheelbase Super V8 was promised from the start of production in 2002, but has taken quite a while to arrive. So has it been worth the delay?
At ¬£71,970, the Super V8 isn't cheap - it costs nearly twice as much as the base XJ6. But compared to rivals with similar performance and equipment, such as the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes S-Class, it represents good value for money. The newcomer combines the impressive ride and extra legroom of the recently introduced LWB car with the XJR's 400bhp supercharged unit. From the outside, clues about its potential are limited. Look closely, however, and you will spot a small Super V8 badge, plus a unique grille and 19-inch alloys.
Inside, it's all about luxury, not sportiness. The dash and seats are identical to the standard XJ LWB's, but a 'supercharged' logo on the rev counter hints at what's under the bonnet. Upmarket additions include lambswool rugs, a touch-screen sat-nav and DVD display, electric seats and a heated steering wheel.
Those in the rear can set their own climate control and listen to their choice of radio station, using controls mounted in the armrest. On the road, the Super V8 is a supreme beast. Despite the extra bulk of the lengthened body, the car is as quick from 0-60mph as the standard XJR, making the super V8 one of the quickest luxury cars around.
This XJ is smooth under most driving conditions, but plant the throttle and it surges ahead, accompanied by a delightful supercharger whine. While it may resemble a luxury car, the Super is also every inch a performance machine. And it doesn't disgrace itself on twisty roads, either. The car's size means that it's more suited to cruising than pressing on, but it's surprisingly agile if hurried. Yet even when pushed, the exemplary ride remains unflustered. Blending the XJ's strengths in a package that's the epitome of the Jaguar brand, this is a great flagship for the financially troubled firm.
Whether you're after a Jaguar to be driven in or to drive, the Super V8 will tick all the right boxes. It's perfect for well heeled owners who prefer to be chauffeured to business appointments, but want to let their hair down at weekends with a bit of enthusiastic driving of their own. And although it's not exactly cheap, this is a mightily impressive car.
At a Glance
* Super V8 on sale in UK now
* Flagship diesel due next year