Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Jaguar Vanden Plas Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Jaguar Vanden Plas Overview

Body
Jaguar Unleashes the Beast Within

Looking for something with a bit more flair than the average luxury car? Tired of seeing carbon copy clones of the car you just bought popping up like baby rabbits in the springtime? Then perhaps you should take a stroll down to your local Jaguar dealer and ask to take the new XJR for a quick spin. Once you see it, you'll know that this is no ordinary car; it's more like the stealth fighter of high-performance luxury sedans. The XJR is the kind of car that sneaks up upon its unsuspecting prey—they are usually resting at a stop light or perhaps cruising obliviously down the freeway—and then dusts them without warning, leaving only a cloud of tire smoke and the sound of a screaming supercharger fading into the distance.

From a distance, the new XJR's design looks very much like the old one. Get up closer, however, and you'll discover that the XJR's roof and beltline are decidedly higher up than before, which not only give it a much more visible profile, it increases the interior headroom by a wide margin. The familiar Jaguar design elements are still clearly evident, such as the gentle curving line that tapers down to the end of the trunk and the split-mesh grille flanked by four round headlights. Of course, the strongest visual giveaway are the XJR's gargantuan 19-inch wheels that appear to fill up each of the four wheel wells and the updated "leaper" hood ornament that growls menacingly over the leading edge of the hood.

The most important part of the new XJR cannot be viewed with the naked eye nor can it be discovered purely by touch. It's what rests beneath the lustrously deep paint and supple leather that makes this XJR such a lethal foe: aluminum. Lightweight and strong, aluminum is applied via a series of bonding and riveting techniques to create a body that is significantly lighter than last year's car yet is also larger in almost every proportion. The aluminum frame also makes the new XJR an extremely rigid automobile and that in turn cuts down drastically on the amount of flex and bend the body exhibits. A stiffer chassis also means less rattles and squeaks inside the cabin and allows the suspension engineers to tune a much more precise setup.

The extraordinary measures undertaken to strengthen the XJR's body are not in place merely for the sake of rattle protection; they are a necessary requirement to hold in place the awesome power of the XJR's supercharged 4.2-liter V8 engine. Rated at 390-horsepower and with a gut-wrenching 399 lb-ft. of torque, the XJR's engine can propel you and your wide-eyed passengers 0 to 60 miles-per-hour in less time than it takes to say, "Stop the car, I want to get out...now!", or just a hair over 5-seconds flat. You'll find it's so much fun to stomp on the XJR's accelerator pedal—whether from a dead stop or while blasting through traffic—that you probably wouldn't care if the big cat's only redeeming attribute was its straight-line acceleration. As luck would have it, the XJR is also a formidable touring car with an amazing new suspension.

Once behind the wheel, you'll find that the dead-on steering and precise turn-in are but two of the XJR's many accolades; there is also the flawless shift control of the six-speed ZF transmission, the amazingly smooth and quiet ride provided by the rear-air-spring suspension and the hushed silence of the cabin even at extreme speeds. The Jaguar team has harnessed a number of electronic traction and stability programs to improve upon both your and the XJR's driving abilities. Most notable among these is a system called the CATS or Computer Activated Suspension Technology. With CATS in place, the XJR is kept well within the controlled limits usually reserved for smaller, more nimble cars. We had our first encounter with the system when a vehicle in the lane next to us blew out a tire and quickly crossed our path; with two quick tugs on the steering wheel, our XJR avoided the offending vehicle and then quickly retook its position with out so much as a screeching tire or wobbling back end; truly remarkable.

As for the luxury side of the XJR, it is, as one would expect, above reproach. Full leather sport seats cradle you in complete comfort while your body is cooled by the fully-automatic climate control. There are such lovely touches as heated seats, power lumbar support, a very user-friendly GPS navigation system and a sweet-sounding Alpine audio system. As you might expect of a $70K plus sedan, the level of fit and finish in the XJR is first rate.

After spending some time in this marvelous driving machine, we think you'll conclude—as did we—that this is not just the best XJR ever built, it may very well be the best Jaguar sedan as well.

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