Faced with a growing number of hard-charging rivals, Jaguar's stately XJ flagship undergoes a handful of revisions to stay competitive for 2008. The struggling Ford subsidiary says the XJ's modified front styling asserts a "purposeful appearance," but it isn't nearly as expressive as the XK coupe that hit showrooms last spring.
The biggest difference is the XJ's front bumper, which sports a deeper, narrower air dam. The interior gains some new options, including a Bluetooth system that's able to store information for up to five cell phones. (Don't talk all at once, now.) As before, regular and extended-length versions are available.
The engines remain the same; the supercharged V-8 propels the high-performance XJR from zero to 60 mph in 5 seconds.
Up front, a narrower front air dam draws visual continuity with the rounded grille — a styling formula Audi and Volkswagen have championed for several years. Dedicated ports for each fog light flank the air dam.
In front of each front door is a chrome gill that Jaguar calls a "power vent." They echo the slats in the XK coupe. In back, a chrome strip spans the width of the trunk.
The XJ's all-aluminum structure is a rarity even in the luxury segment, where many cars utilize a heavier steel frame. When the aluminum underpinnings arrived in 2004, Jaguar said they weighed 40 percent less than the steel frame they replaced. The XJ's air suspension remains the same. It can automatically lower the car and maintain its balance for the best mix of performance and comfort.
The XJ's interior is basically unchanged from last year. It's simple and elegant, if not as opulent as the high-tech cabins in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS 460. For 2008, Jaguar says backseat legroom has been increased, thanks to newly sculpted front seatbacks that allow additional knee clearance.
For 2008, heated seats become standard, and cooled seats are optional. Jaguar hasn't disclosed the trim levels for 2008, but all XJs will likely come standard with power front seats, leather upholstery and dual-zone automatic climate control. Last year, a fully optioned Super V8 — the highest of five trims — packed a power-adjustable rear bench seat, a navigation system, power-folding side mirrors and folding tables for the backseat. Expect similar equipment for 2008.
Under the Hood
Standard running gear includes a 4.2-liter V-8 with 300 horsepower and 310 pounds-feet of torque, coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission. A supercharged version of the same engine powers the XJR; it makes 400 hp and 413 pounds-feet of torque. It also pairs with a six-speed automatic.
Dual front airbags, side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags are standard. Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are standard, as are traction control and an electronic stability system.