Are you sure NASA discontinued The Space Shuttle Program?
What is one word that best describes a vehicle with 550 Horsepower, 502 lb-ft of torque with the wheel-base, and an overall length of 124.3 and 206.6 inches, respectively? SPACESHIP! I recently test-drove The $124,000 XJR-L (L=long wheel-base) in a "Storm Trooperesque" Polaris White color, which only added to its interstellar travel illusion. I love the exterior of this car. Even though the current XJ styling was released in 2009 it still looks fresh. The roof line has a gradual, but continuous arc. It has a low and sleek appearance made further apparent by the R models front lip spoiler and side skirts. Jaguar does not have a CLS or 6-series Gran Coupe style variant. The welcomed styling of this particular vehicle essentially pulls double duty as both a four-door coupe and a limo.
Unlock the doors by either the remote or grabbing the door handle and the mirrors (as they do with all new Jags) automatically fold-out. This is a small feature that reminds the driver the "dated" Jaguar brand has been replaced with a successful response to the challenge of German innovation and technology. Slinking behind the large three-spoke leaper-embossed steering wheel you find a blank screen where you would expect to see gauges. The cabin is bathed in thick soft leather, making sure you know you're in a special machine. Accented with deep piano-black wood and chrome surrounds, the surfaces of the car tell of the marque's history and prestige. The car initially feels perfect for a man of means with a taste for something different than the typical German offerings. This is all well and good until a 6'4"person (me) climbs in the driver's seat. Taller than 99% of America's population, I generally sit with car seats all the way down and back. This Jag's driver seat suited me with ease and comfort. I checked the leg-room for a potential backseat passenger and by eyeballing it, I deemed it more than accommodating for another individual-even of my stature. Next, I hit the down button on the seat. When the seat stopped I tried again to hit the descend control. Nothing. My head was approximately two inches from the roof with the seat all the way down. Granted I'm taller than the average Jedi, I was still surprised.
Pulling out of the parking spot I really felt the length of this Texas-sized car. When maneuvering in close quarters, the beeps from the sensors surrounding the entire exterior helped me guide this mammoth of a machine around obstacles. I normally switch the standard park assist Jaguar function off but in a car that's not only hefty in size but also price, it's a welcoming feature that makes parking and deparking (it's a word I promise) a snap.
Once on the road, you realize this particular R version is really a driver's car. The suspension, which is 30% stiffer than the standard car, is just on the right side of the too-firm border line. The XJR is communicative to say the least and a very different (in a good way) ride from an S-Class. What's truly amazing is the flatness of the 5,300 pound vehicle corners. The car really starts to feel like a small sports car, shrinking around the driver. I appreciated this once I started driving The XJR in some twisties; this sports car metamorphosis is something all new Jags have done pretty well.
The real party piece of this British Brute lies under the bonnet in the form of a five liter supercharged V8. It's the same engine offered in the F-Type but has an ECU tweak that gives the car an extra 55hp. Shifted through the same ZF 8-speed unit also found in the F-Type it can take the car 0-60 in four-and-a-bit seconds. It's not quite as bonkers as say, the Panamera Turbo S or the ridiculous S63amg. However, it's plenty to scare your overly comfortable passengers, step the tail out, and keep police officers employed. The exhaust note is smooth and somewhat soothing at low-speeds. Step on the gas and it wakes up; never too loud but enough to remind the driver there is a wall of power under their right foot.
I showed the car at the always well attended Saturday morning Katie's Cars and Coffee event in Great Falls, Va. The car received a considerable amount of curious and intrigued onlookers; it really is a car that stands out. Surprisingly, one of the most common comments I received was "Is that the new Bentley?" It amazed me how this car with a classic body was being mistaken for a new version of a car with an MSRP of $200,000, nearly double the price of the Jag. I had a young blond woman ask if the car was fast. She fell for my Jedi mind trick. When I asked, "Want to go for a ride?" she replied "Of course!" She showed me a loop of nearby back roads she liked to drive her Audi S5 on. I thought the car was entertaining to drive from the beginning. What was more entertaining was watching her reactions to the car she thought would be "quick." As I pushed the heavy footed yet light on its paws Jag she, almost as rapidly as the car, realized how fast the car was. I took a few spirited turns and looked to my right to see her long blond locks had completely covering her face.
For a second I was a bit worried I had overdone the aggressive turns a bit. I slowed my pace a little only to hear a mid-giggle "Why are you slowing down?" That was all the encouragement I needed to pick the pace back up. Even up the steepest hills the XJR still felt impressively fast. We pulled back into the parking lot. My blond haired companion gave a sigh and said "Man, if this thing wasn't twice the price of my car." "It's pretty cheap for a Bentley" I replied. We both laughed and agreed, realizing The XJR is a lot of car for the money.
In my opinion, the XJR is the best looking, best handling, and most unique luxury limo car. It compares most favorably to the zany German limos. If you are a Jedi Warrior of average height, need a big car, love to drive, and require luxury levels of comfort; the XJR is definitely worth your careful consideration. The Force is strong with this car.
More photos of the car are available at: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set…
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