The 2012 Jaguar XJ is the flagship model for the British brand and embodies what you would expect a premium luxury sedan to be. The XJL takes Jaguar’s legacy of sporting, stylish cars to a whole new level. The L doesn’t mean extra luxury, but it stands for long. It means there is more that aims to coddle and satisfy the luxury buyer. And Jaguar has succeeded in keeping Jaguar’s ideals of “innovation, bold design and effortless high performance.”
The XJ was completely redesigned last year and was awarded “Best Luxury Sedan” by Winding Road online magazine, in both 2011 and 2012. For 2012, the XJ gets a few more goodies to keep luxury buyers in comfort. A suite of enhancements to the interior and options list includes a new Rear Seat Comfort package, which incorporates electric recline, lumbar adjustment and massage functions to “reinforce the ultimate executive limousine experience.”
The 2012 Jaguar XJL won’t be mistaken for anything else on the road. It’s longer than a BMW 7 Series or Mercedes S-Class. The XJL gets an extra long wheelbase that adds nearly 5 inches to the overall length, with longer rear doors and glass. That translates to extra comfort for rear passengers who get that 5 inches in additional legroom making 44.1 inches of rear legroom total.
The Jaguar XJL is a true flagship and knows how to provide even more luxurious accommodations for passengers. The cabin is filled with finest leather and wood, like you would find in a British state room. But the interior is more than just luxurious, it’s also stylish and sporty. This XJL Supercharged model ($91,600) not only gets heated and cooled front seats, but it adds piped leather upholstery and massage front seats with 20-way adjustment and four-zone climate control. And this XJL tester came with the optional suede headliner.
Lightweight aluminum construction
Because of the extra-long length of the XJL, the ride quality is superb. Under the XJL body is a rigid and lightweight aluminum architecture that contributes to the ride comfort. Jaguar is the leader in sophisticated all-aluminum construction. And this unique metal construction also improves handling precision, fuel economy and acceleration. Even though the XJL is a big car, the Jaguar XJL handles extremely well when driven hard in the corners.
The XJL has long-legs and is meant to be driven at high speeds. This tester was only taken up to 90 mph on a stretch of deserted interstate, but it felt like 70. With the standard 20-inch wheels, the bumps were a little more pronounced, but the luxury flagship compares well with the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Supercharged V8 power
The XJ comes standard with a 5.0-liter V8 engine, designed and produced at Jaguar facilities in Coventry, England. The powerplant is all aluminum and features 32 valves, direct injection, independent variable cam timing, cam profile switching, and a variable geometry inlet manifold. The engine produces 385 horsepower and does quite well in the big car because of the light-weight aluminum frame and body.
But the Supercharged variant adds 85 horsepower and 40 foot-pounds of torque, which brings the horsepower up to 470 in the luxury sedan. The additional power cuts one second off the 0-60 mph time, to less than 5 seconds. When the gas pedal is pushed to the floor, the large cat will push you back in the seat and feels like a much smaller car. It’s not until you pull into a parking spot, when you realize this is a big car.
The 470 horsepower aluminum engine is mated to a sweet six-speed manual-automatic transmission that is super-smooth. The gearbox uses adaptive gear-change strategies based on the type of road and the driver’s application of the gas pedal. The transmission has a manual mode all the way up to redline for more aggressive and spirited driving and the paddle shifters work superbly.
A sport suspension to match
The 2012 XJL uses a fully independent suspension, with steel springs in front for precision and air springs in back for the best ride quality while carrying passengers in the rear. The XJL Supercharged uses giant brake rotors and calipers front and rear, that can be seen peeking through the 20-inch wheels. With a gentleman’s agreement limited top speed of 155 mph, the driver has the comfort of knowing the big car will stop quickly.
XJL Supercharged ($91,600) also gets an active rear differential in addition to the more powerful engine, a panoramic roof, driver assist package with adaptive front lighting, cornering lamps, headlamp washers, intelligent high beam, keyless entry and start, and a Bowers & Wilkins audio system. The optional Illumination Package ($1,700) adds lighted door and trunk sills, and illuminated air vents.
The 2012 Jaguar XJL Supercharged does everything you expect in a ultra-luxury sedan. The large sedan has the extra room for passengers, luxurious appointments throughout the cabin, a sporty personality, and performance that will match the German sports sedans. We have to agree with Jaguar when they say, “the XJL Supercharged is a special car to drive or be driven in.”