Jaguar adds reliability to its luxury image
By Richard Williamson / Scripps Howard News Service
Photo by Auto Express
2005 Jaguar XJ8 L
TYPE: Rear-drive, five-passenger, full-size luxury sedan.
PRICE: $62,830 base, $64,630 as tested.
WHERE BUILT: Coventry, England.
POWER: 4.2-liter, 32-valve, 294-horsepower V8; six-speed auto transmission.
FUEL ECONOMY: 18 city, 28 highway mpg; estimated annual fuel cost $1,329.
CHASSIS: CATS active suspension, load leveling air suspension, speed-sensitive power steering; dynamic stability control; power disc brakes with ABS; electronic parking brake.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 205.3 x 83 x 57 inches.
WHEELBASE X TRACK: 124.4 x 61.3 inches.
STANDARD: Front/side air bags; remote entry security system; 12-way power adjustable front seats; 140-watt AM/FM/CD stereo; power adjustable pedals; rain-sensing wipers; reverse parking alert system; self-dimming mirrors; automatic climate control.
WHAT'S NEW: Longer wheelbase, more room, and new options.
PLUSES: Style, comfort, performance.
MINUSES: Price, side-mirror visibility.
BOTTOM LINE: Benchmark elegance with a new level of reliability.
The British carmaker Jaguar has long built models that rank among the most beautiful and powerful on the road. But reliability left the marque way behind its rivals from Germany, Japan and the United States.
That issue appears to be fading away under the ownership of Ford Motor Co. if the recent J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study is any indication. Based on responses from more than 62,000 buyers of the 2005 models, Jaguar rose from third place to second, ranking first among European brands.
That news was long awaited from Jaguar aficionados who have tolerated the idiosyncrasies of their XJs, XKs and Vanden Plases out of pure devotion to their style and class.
Now, you can drive your Jag with a higher sense of confidence, which is nice if you're paying $62,830 for a stunner like the XJ8 L.
Known for its aluminum-alloy body, the XJ8 L has the longest wheelbase in its class, but remains amazingly maneuverable with speed-sensitive power steering and a six-speed automatic transmission that makes the ride a glide.
In the new 2005 versions of the long-wheelbase XJs, both the wheelbase and the overall length grow by 5 inches as the roofline rises by 0.28 inch. At 124.4 inches, the XJ8 L's wheelbase measures 2.2 inches longer than the Mercedes Benz S-Class's and 1.8 inches longer than that of the BMW 7-Series. Despite those dimensions, the sedan is designed to fit in a standard-sized garage.
In a car of this type, the backseat can be as important as the front, since driving duties are sometimes delegated to chauffeurs. Thus, the body was stretched from the middle roof pillar to boost rear-seating room. The added rear passenger space gives the sedan 4.5 inches more rear knee room than you would find in the standard-length XJ8 while maintaining a 16.4 cubic foot luggage compartment.
Seating options in the long-wheelbase sedans include a full width, three-passenger bench seat with four-way manual adjustment. Another option is a three-passenger bench with powered four-way adjustment that allows a rear passenger to move the front seat forward for more leg room.
Business trays fold down from the front seat backs creating a space for a laptop computer that can be powered from the auxiliary socket. The XJ8 offers multi-media connectivity for iPod, MP3 player and DVD players, digital memory media, Playstation or Gameboy systems, with the option of 6.5-inch displays in the backs of the front seat headrests, and independent input points for two rear seat passengers.
Upfront, the long wheelbase version's seats have multi-directional powered adjustment, and memory function for seat position, outside mirrors, steering column and adjustable pedals as standard. The driving position can be adjusted by reach and angle.
If you're not willing to defer to your chauffeur, you can have a lot of fun driving the XJ8 L. With its smooth, quiet ride, the sedan is a splendid road car with surprising fuel economy, given its 294-horsepower engine. In city driving, you can cover 18 miles per gallon, while the highway pace allows 28 mpg for an estimated annual fuel cost of $1,329. The efficiency equals that of a V6-powered Buick.
The 32-valve, 4.2-liter V8 is engineered to boost low speed torque and high-speed power, while reducing emissions. High compression ratios and multi-hole injection nozzles are designed to improve combustion, improving fuel economy and reducing emissions.
Power mongers who are not satisfied with 294 horses can step up to the supercharged V8 that produces 390 horsepower and 399 foot-pounds of torque at a low 3,500 rpm.
Both engines are harnessed to a six-speed ZF automatic transmission that was the world's first stepped six-speed automatic transmission when it made its debut in the S-TYPE in 2002. A gate that allows you to shift manually or automatically frames the shift lever.
Among the options are a choice of leathers for the upholstery and wood for the interior trim. The overhead console provides switches for features such as remote garage door opening and rear sun blinds, microphones for the built-in hands-free telephone and JaguarVoice systems.
The voice-activated commands can operate telephone, audio, air conditioning and satellite navigation systems -- in several languages. So, knock yourself out remembering what you learned in French class. The DVD navigation system uses a touch-sensitive screen and can display points of interest, restaurants, hotels, and parking facilities. Touch screen control also extends to the major audio and climate control functions.