2011 Jaguar XJ

The styling of the 2011 Jaguar XJ still softly whispers money, old and new. Get behind the wheel,  and the XJ elicits strong emotions. The 470-hp supercharged V-8 is  smooth and authoritative. As usual, though, Jaguar’s expertise in chassis tuning is what really shines.

Steering and handling are confident while the ride is comfortable. Surrounded by a band of lovely dark wood, the cabin combines old-school luxury with modern style. Even with the dark cloud of Jaguar reliability hanging around, it’s easy to understand why someone would own this dynamic hero.

Where the X really separates itself from the ACR is in the handling department. The springs are 50 percent stiffer and work well with the custom two-way adjustable dampers. The rear sway bar is the same size but is adjustable. As with most race cars, downforce plays a major roll in high-speed stability. In the ACR-X’s case, the deck-lid spoiler has an adjustable pitch angle at the rear of the car, and two additional dive planes were added to the front bumper. The result is up to 100 pounds of added downforce at 150 mph.

The digital instrument cluster is beautiful in the XJ. The Jag’s tasteful stylization is a significant improvement compared with the dead simple, Windows 3.1 look of the Land Rover digital gauges. Activate dynamic mode and the hue fades from blue to red, a neat trick. While the navigation interface is nicely updated, it still responds slowly to inputs. Fortunately, the touch-sensitive glovebox release now appears to work consistently, unlike in the Jaguar XF. The massaging front seats are wonderful, with far more presence than those used by the BMW 7-series and the Mercedes-Benz S-class. Legroom in the rear seat feels more confined than in cars like the BMW and the Benz, but Jaguar does offer a long-wheelbase model if you’re buying an XJ for its back seats.

Visiting a friend in an Ottawa Land Rover / Jaguar Dealership, I took advantage and looked at the XJ up close. Inside and out, it is a sweet ride. A little longer in length than I expected but a nice package that shouts money and class.

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