Jaguar's press materials say the XJ8 is "the bedrock upon which the Jaguar of today is based."
Consider that the top 2007 XJ8 is available with a 400-horsepower, supercharged V-8 and the brand has a solid foundation indeed.
This long and low all-aluminum sedan looks like luxury personified. It's the kind of car that makes you feel rich just by stepping inside. Thick wool carpet, wood inlays and glove-soft leather coddle the passengers, especially those in back where the legroom is generous. Add the DVD screen in the back of each front-seat headrest and trays that pull down from the back of the front seat like in an airliner, and you've got a car that is almost as comfortable as a limousine.
My wife and I took another couple to dinner, and it was hard for our friends not to utter an "ooh" or an "aah" every time they got into the back seat. The XJ could easily be used as an executive limousine.
Styling is a Jaguar trademark, and while some could argue that the XJ doesn't look as modern as some of its competitors, it has an Old World elegance that seems fitting for the brand. The dual headlights, bold grille and long profile are all typical for Jaguar.
The XJ was new in 2003, and its aluminum body is state of the art. It is constructed of sheet aluminum riveted and bonded to aluminum extrusions and aluminum castings. Aluminum saves weight, and weight is the enemy of performance. This sedan is 60 percent stiffer than the previous model, and it has improved crashworthiness, according to Jaguar. A lighter car is faster, uses less fuel and emits fewer emissions. This car is at least 440 pounds lighter than the last generation.
The supercharged V-8 puts out power with the even flow of an electric motor. This big cat is fast, but it never feels as if it is hurrying.
The XJ starts at $63,585 with a 300-horsepower, 4.2 liter V-8. The long-wheelbase model begins at $67,085. The top-of-the-line Super V-8, which I drove, begins at a whopping $91,335.
The XJ's cabin has a fairly low roofline, and that can feel confining to tall drivers. The instrument panel uses a large LCD center touch screen for audio and navigation. This system is not quite as user-friendly as simple dials, but there isn't room for knobs and the navigation screen both. Voice-activation of some controls is most handy.
The gearshift has a J-shaped shift pattern that is peculiar to Jaguar. The electronic parking brake comes on each time you put the car in park.
Ride quality is excellent, especially considering the low-profile tires and a suspension that has been buttoned down to cope with 400 horsepower.
The trunk space is generous, too.
Safety features include side-curtain airbags, stability control, tire-pressure monitoring, adaptive cruise control, anti-lock brakes and traction control.
Price The base price of the test vehicle was $91,335. Destination charges brought the sticker price to $91,535.
Warranty Four years or 50,000 miles, with a six-year, 70,000-mile powertrain warranty.