2008 Jaguar XJ Preview – Geneva Auto Show: There’s a link between cars and plastic surgery addicts – neither is able to grow old gracefully. Addicts don’t appreciate their natural beauty; the constant call for improvement leads to some disproportionate mess that scares children and puppies. Cars, unfortunately, are at the mercy of the buying public and designers, so every few years they go under the knife. The operations vary from severe to a mild augmentation, as is the case with the 2008 Jaguar XJ. This iconic British sedan rolled away relatively unscathed, with its overall shape and potent powerplants intact, but that gratuitous growth of a front bumper is like a pimple on the face of Gisele.
Jaguar faces some very fierce competition in the luxury segment, especially in the area of high-end sedans. Consider that the XJ fights for buyers’ attention, and dollars, among a field that includes the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Each of those heavyweights has been updated recently, and to remain relevant the XJ required at least a little tweaking. The powertrains were already competitive, if not class-leading, and the iconic XJ shape could only be messed with so much. As a result, the 2008 XJ arrives with a look that distinguishes it from the 2007 model, and is aimed at maintaining interest in the car until an entirely new version arrives within the next couple of years.
Buyers can choose between regular and extra-strength versions of the 2008 Jaguar XJ. The so-called lesser models draw motivation from a 4.2-liter V8 that pushes 300 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 310 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,100 rpm. Those are nice figures, especially when considering Jag’s very optimistic rating of 24.8 mpg in mixed driving. If the 6.3-second 0-60 mph time isn’t up to snuff, the supercharged XJ should do the trick. With that extra bit of hardware under the hood, XJR and Super V8 models cruise to 60 mph in only five seconds, thanks to 400 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 408 lb.-ft. of torque peaking t 3,500 rpm. Mileage is rated at 23.4 mpg overall. All XJs feature a six-speed automatic transmission.
An all-new XJ is working its way through development, but to appease customers looking for something fresh, Jaguar is releasing the slightly tweaked 2008 model. From first glimpse, there’s no question that this is the all-aluminum XJ, though a closer look reveals a few distinguishing details, including three new colors, new 19-inch wheel offerings, updated mirror housings, and a gently tweaked tail complemented by a body-width chrome strip and subtle deck lid spoiler. More readily apparent is the funky new front end treatment, accented by an upper and lower mesh grille inserts. Jag calls the new look assertive; we agree, as long as a fat lower lip is considered assertive.
As is the case with the 2008 Jaguar XJ’s exterior, the interior receives a few, albeit important, updates. The front seats have been redesigned with a renewed focus on comfort, and as a result their new shape has allowed for an improvement in rear leg room. Driver and front passenger get standard heat on their backsides, with a cooling feature available from the options list. Other goodies found inside the updated XJ include a high-definition audio system, expanded Bluetooth capabilities, an optional tire pressure monitor, adaptive cruise controls, a touch-screen navigation system with voice controls, a bevy of airbags, and a combo of acoustic dampening and laminated glass to keep the cabin as quiet as possible.
Jaguar’s Director of Design, Ian Callum, suggests that “Every Jaguar must have a distinctive face, something that you cannot mistake if you catch a glimpse of it in your rearview mirror as it powers up behind you. The new 2008 XJ range meets that challenge thanks to a new grille and a bold new bumper style.” The company goes on by stating, “Jaguar has again raised the standard for luxury cars with a new generation of the XJ sedan. The flagship of the Jaguar range benefits from visual changes, technological advances and additional features on all 2008 model year cars. Already renowned for its all-aluminum body construction, state-of-the-art technologies and outstanding craftsmanship and build quality, the new XJ is now even more desirable.”
Jaguar is a brand that has long been known for elegant design, though the face of the current XK puts a crack in that reputation. The XJ has made it through the years with numerous revisions, yet has always retained its classic look and big boxy sedan proportions – wake someone up from a thirty-year coma and they could immediately put a name to a picture of the 2006 XJ. Same goes for the 2008 model, though one might now ask, “What happened to its face?” For a car tied so closely to the concepts of clean lines and precision, the rather fat and exaggerated new front end treatment resembles change for the sake of change, and not for the sake of improvement.