Call it a more powerful Vanden Plas or a more luxurious XJR
IntroductionIt wields more power than a female teacher at an all-boys school, looks more at home amongst the social elite than The Donald’s freaky hair, offers technology only fully appreciated by the loneliest IT geek, and hits you where it hurts more than 90,000 times.
That describes a long list of vehicles, but this one comes from a land where a hood is a bonnet, a trunk is a boot, a road is a motorway, a windshield is a windscreen, and where pubs are as common as bad teeth. And did we mention that this pretty kitty is supercharged? Feel free to insert your own Tim Allen power grunt here.
Indeed, the land is the U.K. and the vehicle is the 2005 Jaguar XJ Super V8. The Super V8 is new, but those familiar with the XJ lineup will recognize almost all of the parts and features, combined in an exclusive way. The Super V8 represents the first supercharged long-wheelbase XJ, the first with a standard navigation system, the first with a rear DVD entertainment system, and the first that mixes and matches the best that the XJ8, XJ8L, Vanden Plas, and XJR models have to offer. Clearly, in creating the Super V8, Jaguar has developed a vehicle that aims to coddle rear seat passengers while simultaneously entertaining the driver. And at about $90,000, 14 grand more than the XJR, that’s the way it should be.
Overview All new for 2005, the Jaguar XJ Super V8 is a unique combination of bits and pieces from existing XJ models, with a few additional creature comforts thrown in as standard equipment.
All new for 2005, the Jaguar XJ Super V8 is a unique combination of bits and pieces from existing XJ models, with a few additional creature comforts thrown in as standard equipment.
Even casual observers will notice the Super V8’s stretched wheelbase, measuring 124.4 inches and shared with both the XJ8L and Vanden Plas models. The body on these versions is also five inches longer than the XJ8 and XJR models, adds 0.3 inches of extra height, and offers another two feet of passenger volume. Unique to the 2005 Jaguar Super V8’s exterior are headlight washers, front parking sensors, and a chrome mesh grille. Available colors include Racing Green, Platinum Silver, Ebony, and Radiance Metallic.
What is less obvious is the monster that lies below the bonnet, though the subtle exterior badges are a strong hint. A supercharged 4.2-liter V8 pushes out 390 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and an earth-quaking 399 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm, 96 more horses and 96 more lb.-ft. of torque than the non-supercharged motor powering the XJ8, XJ8L, and Vanden Plas. This deep breathing eight-cylinder powerplant also powers the Jaguar XJR and features an aluminum block and cylinder heads, 32 valves, and dual overhead cams. It’s all connected to a six-speed manually interactive automatic transmission topped off with Jag’s often-maligned J-gate shifter.
Though the powertrain is shared with the performance-oriented XJR, the independent double wishbone suspension with automatic load leveling is tuned for a more comfortable ride, similar to the XJ8 and Vanden Plas models, though a 17-mm rear stabilizer bar is borrowed from the XJR. Same goes for the Brembo brakes, with 366-mm vented discs up front and 330-mm solid discs in the rear. Unique 19-inch alloy wheels meet the road through P255/40R19 Z-rated performance tires.
Interior components have also been picked from the 2005 Jaguar XJ standard parts bin, with a few notable exceptions. Special attention has been paid to the Super V8’s rear seat passengers, lucky souls who will enjoy manual sunshades on the doors, power headrests, and a heated bench seat with six power adjustments. The front passenger seat has a power button that allows a rider in back to move the seat forward, providing maximum rear comfort (though the front passenger may not be too thrilled). And the cherry on top is the rear DVD system, with twin 6.5-inch screens in the backs of the front headrests, sound controls and audio jacks located in the fold-down center armrest, and a trunk-mounted DVD player. Front-seat passengers get a DVD- and GPS-based navigation system with a seven-inch screen mounted in the center dash.
Among the standard features shared with other XJ models are three-position memory settings for the power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, foot pedals, exterior mirrors, and 16-way adjustable driver’s seat that wears the Vanden Plas model’s upgraded leather. Also shared with the Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas are lambswool floor mats, front seatback fold-down trays, and added Burl Walnut trim. Safety features include traction and stability control systems, intelligent cruise control, electronic brake assistance, front dual airbags, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags.
Road Test Upon takeoff, the 2005 Jaguar XJ Super V8 proved to be breathtakingly quick, so much so that the editor was a bit bummed that, even with the road-gripping system turned off, this Jag wouldn’t smoke. That was until he looked in the mirror. Left at that stop sign was a blue cloud of what used to be the outer layers of beefy 19-inch tires.
Admittedly, the features that primarily set the 2005 Jaguar XJ Super V8 apart from other models in the lineup are found in the rear seat, but that supercharged engine definitely warrants some attention.
Holy smokes. Literally. When driving home from the office on a sunny afternoon, one editor decided to deactivate the traction control system before pulling away from a stop sign. Upon takeoff, the Super V8 proved to be breathtakingly quick, so much so that the editor was a bit bummed that, even with the road-grabbing system turned off, this Jag wouldn’t smoke. That was until he looked in the mirror. Left at that stop sign was a blue cloud of what used to be the outer layers of beefy 19-inch tires. Those big grippers do a great job of keeping the 4,000-lb. Super V8 glued in the corners, but the extended wheelbase makes this cat feel a whisker too long. Imagine what it would be like to keep track of a limo’s rear end in some tight twisties – take a fraction of that sensation and you understand what it’s like to pilot a two-ton British sedan over curvy mountain roads.
With all of that weight, we were happy to discover impressive braking with good pedal feel, precise steering, and a seamlessly-shifting transmission. Our staff remains mixed on that J-gate shifter – some liking the placement of the manual mode closer to the driver, others preferring a more traditional setup. Regardless, in any driving situation, the 2005 Jaguar XJ Super V8 offers seemingly endless amounts of power and a ride that is comfortable but a bit too stiff for a $90,000 luxury car.
In addition to the taut suspension, the rear seat, while offering an immense amount of leg and foot room and sufficient headroom, is quite firm and has a low hip-point, making it hard to get in and out of the bucketed outboard seats. We did appreciate the power action of the seat, which allowed us to find the best possible position, yet found the back cushioning to be too hard. The various controls in the center armrest are handy, but the placement of the cupholders infringes on the usefulness of the armrest.
Elsewhere, the interior exhibited the over-the-top luxury expected of a premium Jag. High-quality leather was almost everywhere, yet where there was plastic, it felt substantial and durable. Our only complaints, inside and out, focused on a slightly misaligned dash, pillar covers that popped off easily, and excessive brake dust.
Wrap-up After driving the 2005 Jaguar XJ Super V8 for a week and about 1,000 miles, we’re not sure why this car was created.
There is one thing visitors to these pages can be sure they will never see, and that is any editor complaining of too much power. Despite that fact and after driving the 2005 Jaguar XJ Super V8 for a week and about 1,000 miles, we’re not sure why this car was created. The powertrain is just as amazing in the shorter and less expensive XJR, a model designed as much for the driver as the passengers. The Super V8’s interior accommodations are numerous and impressive, but ditto the Vanden Plas at a substantial savings. Sure, the supercharger is absent on the Vanden Plas, but the focus of that car is on rear-seat passengers and not top speed.
So, with the Vanden Plas and the XJR, Jaguar has limo-like spaciousness and superb performance addressed. Are chauffeurs crying for more power? Maybe the pleas are coming from the chauffeured? We’re thinking not. The purpose of the XJ Super V8 remains a mystery to us, but the same can be said of 400- to 500-horsepower competitors from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. Maybe there’s a speed limit-less superhighway somewhere, accessible only by long-wheelbase luxury cars with a driver and comfortable rear seat passengers. Mystery solved.
Until that’s confirmed over the spreading of Grey Poupon along a country road, we’ll assume that boardroom meetings are really about 0-60 mph limo times, and that the rumor about NASCAR’s Kasey Kahne looking to moonlight as Bill France’s personal driver must be true. Or, as one editor suggested, maybe the biggest and most powerful cars, like the 2005 Jaguar XJ Super V8, are the best medicine for sufferers of the Napoleon complex.
Specifications Competitors include the Audi A8 L, Audi A8 L W12, BMW 745Li, BMW 760Li, Maserati Quattroporte, Mercedes-Benz S55 AMG, Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG, Mercedes-Benz S600, and Volkswagen Phaeton W12
Test Vehicle: 2005 Jaguar XJ Super V8
Estimated Price of Test Vehicle: $90,995 (including a $665 destination charge)
Engine Size and Type: Supercharged 4.2-liter V8
Engine Horsepower: 390 at 6,100 rpm
Engine Torque: 399 at 3,900 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Curb Weight: 4,001 lbs.
EPA Fuel Economy (city/highway): 17/24 mpg
Length: 205.3 inches
Width: 76.5 inches
Wheelbase: 124.4 inches
Height: 57.3 inches
Legroom (front/rear): 43.3/39.3 inches
Headroom (front/rear): 38.4/38.6 inches
Max. Seating Capacity: 5
Max. Cargo Volume: 16.4 cubic feet
Competitors: Audi A8 L, Audi A8 L W12, BMW 745Li, BMW 760Li, Maserati Quattroporte, Mercedes-Benz S55 AMG, Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG, Mercedes-Benz S600, and Volkswagen Phaeton W12
2nd Opinion - Wardlaw
2nd Opinion - Wardlaw Whoosh! That’s what I love about supercharged Jaguars, and the Super V8 possesses plenty of whoosh. Stomp the gas, and the car flings itself forward with grace, the rear wheels barely able to retain grip on the pavement. Seamlessly delivered, the sheer power thrusts the Super V8 forward with thunderous alacrity. It is an experience not to be missed, though I could do without the touchy brake pedal and unpredictable automatic transmission.
Whoosh! That’s what I love about supercharged Jaguars, and the Super V8 possesses plenty of whoosh. Stomp the gas, and the car flings itself forward with grace, the rear wheels barely able to retain grip on the pavement. Seamlessly delivered, the sheer power thrusts the Super V8 forward with thunderous alacrity. It is an experience not to be missed, though I could do without the touchy brake pedal and unpredictable automatic transmission.
What I love about all Jaguars is the delectable design, the way the elegant bodywork bends into sensuous curves that inspire lust. The Super V8 is based upon the XJ8 long-wheelbase body, and the stretched coachwork is scarcely evident. Until the Mercedes-Benz CLS arrived to spoil Jaguar’s party, this Super V8 was surely the most attractive luxury sedan on sale.
Inside, the Super V8 is all piped-leather and glossy wood trim, accented by chrome bits and pieces and sketchy climate and radio ergonomics. This cabin represents classic Jaguar at its best, blended with modern technology like navigation and entertainment systems. Rear occupants get the best seats in the house, facing drop-down seatback trays and individual LCD screens built into the backs of the front headrests.
As much as I love driving the XJ Super V8, I don’t find the car to be terribly comfortable. The seats are fine, but the driving position is uncomfortable. The shape of the floorboard, the position of the steering wheel, and the placement of the accelerator pedal all force me to hold my right leg at an awkward angle with my knee wedged between the wide center console and the wood-rimmed steering wheel. Plus, both the footwells and the doorway are tight, forcing me to plop into and climb out of the Super V8.
Nevertheless, the Jaguar Super V8 is among the most appealing luxury sedans at any price. And at $90,000, it actually strikes me as somewhat of a bargain. – Christian J. Wardlaw
Photos courtesy of Jaguar