Jaguar XJ Performance
Reviews are positive about the 2008 Jaguar XJ's adequate power and excellent fuel economy. In fact, it's so nimble that it rides more like a small car than a large sedan.
"The lightweight aluminum alloy construction of the XJ gives it an advantage performance-wise, making it more nimble, flexible and comfy with better fuel economy than a comparable steel-bodied auto," says Road & Travel Magazine.
Another high point: The long-wheelbase models handle just as well as the others despite their extra heft. "During our test-drive, we effortlessly maneuvered the long, sleek XJ through the streets of San Francisco, appreciative of its light-touch steering and relatively nimble 39.5-inch turning radius," says Edmunds.
Acceleration and Power
The 2008 Jaguar XJ8, XJ8L and Vanden Plas come with a 4.2-liter V8 engine that makes 300 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 310 pound-feet of torque at 4,100 rpm. According to Jaguar, these trims have a maximum speed of 121 miles per hour.
Power may not be staggering, but it's more than adequate. Consumer Guide says the V8 is "fast enough for most any need. An XJ8 did 6.5 sec 0-60 mph in our test." Cars.com adds, "Passing and merging acceleration falls short of ferocious, but civilized responses make up for any lack of all-out performance." Finally, Kelley Blue Book comments, "This engine is smooth and powerful, with just the right mix of growl at the tailpipe to let others know what's under the hood."
Edmunds notes that the long-wheelbase models don't suffer when it comes to acceleration: "We spent a week with an XJ8 L, and it moved off the line with the same eagerness as the regular-wheelbase XJ we tested last year. Acceleration was smooth and sure all the way up the chrome-ringed tachometer, and we found ourselves 'settling in' at 90 mph on more than one occasion -- easy to do when you've got this much power..."
Fuel economy is impressive for a V8 engine. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the XJ is expected to net 16 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. In Consumer Guide's tests, XJ8s averaged 15 to 18.3 mpg in city/highway driving.
The engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Consumer Guide says the transmission is "a smooth operator, but can be somewhat slow to downshift unless in sport mode." Kelley Blue Book is even more pleased, calling the transmission a "brilliant piece of work that helps the big Jaguar achieve fuel economy ratings comparable to a V6-powered sedan."
Handling and Braking
The rear-wheel-drive XJ has a serene ride and smooth handling. In fact, Consumer Guide says it's among the "world's smoothest-riding sedans. Any XJ has a fine balance of impact absorption and highway comfort, though they're not quite as settled as other European rivals over washboard surfaces."
The Jaguar's lightweight all-aluminum body contributes to surprisingly good agility for a larger car -- and the long-wheelbase models are no exception. "Dynamically, the long-wheelbase cars are Masters players, with athletic capabilities closer to smaller, leaner four-doors," says BusinessWeek.
The XJ comes with touring-tuned self-leveling air suspension that automatically lowers the vehicle to increase stability and aerodynamics at high speeds. Kelley Blue Book compliments the "remarkably capable chassis" and adds, "The system is solid, secure and serene, with great higher-speed control and an appropriately smooth ride that's completely in character with this car's image." However, Edmunds has some complaints about the long-wheelbase XJ's ride, noting that the suspension "loses too much composure over bumps, dips and highway expansion joints -- to the point that these impacts become an event for rear passengers."
The XJ's road-speed-sensitive, variable-ratio, and variable-assist steering is very precise considering the car's weight and surprisingly quick. "Weight-saving aluminum-intensive body construction and a stiff chassis help these big cats feel nimble," says Consumer Guide, adding that steering is "somewhat light but linear, with good road feel, great straightline tracking." Edmunds finds that the XJ, even with the longer wheelbase, "rises to the challenge of a hairpin turn" and says that it "feels smaller and more maneuverable than competitors like the LS 430, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and even the BMW 7 Series." However, the Jaguar isn't exactly a high-performance car. Edmunds goes on to say that it "doesn't forge the same connection between the driver and the road that you get in the Audi or BMW." Bottom line: The XJ is built more for comfort and luxury than sporty cornering.
The XJ features ventilated disc anti-lock brakes in the front and rear. It also comes with an Electronic Parking Brake that engages automatically when "Park" is selected, as well as an active brake booster. Consumer Guide describes braking as "strong and sure."