Preview - 2004 Jaguar XJ-series

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, May 2, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Jaguar looks at compelling environmental issues...and discovers aluminum.

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    BY RAY HUTTON - May 2003

    American luxury-car buyers seem unconcerned with fuel efficiency. Why would they be? In countries where the gasoline price is three or four times that in the U.S., there is an understandable emphasis on miles per gallon, even for expensive cars. But sometimes things that are developed in one place for one purpose produce unexpected benefits elsewhere.

    Take the new Jaguar XJ.

    It gets a much-needed boost in interior space and creature comforts and grows a bit bigger outside. Changes such as these tend to add bulk, which is then compensated for with a larger-displacement engine. But in the interests of improved gas mileage and lower carbon-dioxide emissions (which are taxation issues in some parts of Europe), Jaguar has reversed this upward spiral by building the '04 XJ's body of aluminum. The monocoque body shell is 300 pounds lighter than it would be in steel, and the XJR model now weighs in at 200 pounds less than its predecessor.

    The engine is only modestly enhanced (the XJ's V-8 follows that of the '03 S-type and XK-series by being enlarged to 4.2 liters), but the big cat makes a leap forward in performance while using less of the Earth's resources.

    The XJ's aluminum body is riveted and bonded like an aircraft fuselage. That's a good, if expensive, thing. But how does the car shape up in the face of heavyweights such as the Mercedes S-class, BMW 7-series, Lexus LS430, and new Audi A8?

    Jaguar research says its owners prefer evolutionary styling to revolutionary. So this XJ doesn't turn heads, but it does have hotel car jockeys (some of the world's greatest automotive experts) admiring the new, more wedgy shape, the XK-like dash, and the increased space for rear-seat passengers and their luggage.

    For the U.S., the XJ will come in three models—the XJ8, the Vanden Plas, and the XJR. The first two have the 4.2-liter engine in 294-hp form and what are known in Europe as the “comfort” settings for the suspension, which incorporates air springs along with Jaguar's CATS adaptive damper system. The 390-hp supercharged XJR has a sportier setup, sits half an inch lower with the air springs adjusted to be 10 percent stiffer overall, and has larger wheels (19-inchers standard, 20s optional).

    And here, if you want the tauter, sportier drive, you'll have to buy the top-dog XJR. If you do, you'll love it. A while back, Jaguar's “sport” suspension was inappropriately harsh for a marque that prides itself on a combination of smooth ride and handling. Now it has achieved a much better balance. The XJR goes like a rocket ship and stops with equal brilliance, thanks to its race-bred Brembo brakes, but it also provides a truly excellent blend of grip, body control, precise steering, and insulation from bumps and broken road surfaces.

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    Jaguar's engineers are actually prouder of what they've done with the suspension of the XJ8, but to us it seemed soft to the point of feeling floaty at high speeds, and its lighter steering inspired less confidence hustling through bends. Air springs, they point out, were fitted not to give a better ride but for their ability to maintain an even keel while bearing a wide range of payloads. As a car's curb weight is reduced, the weight of passengers and luggage becomes proportionally more significant.

    Most of the aluminum suspension pieces of the new XJ are those found on the 2003 S-type. So is the excellent ZF six-speed automatic that Jaguar shares with Audi, BMW, and others. But arranging the automatic transmission's manual override in Jaguar's age-old J-gate shifter isn't such a good idea. It's too easy to move the lever a ratio too far, and as with the S-type R we tested last year (May 2002), it can't be persuaded to give power-peak revs in every gear. In normal fast driving, the “S” automatic program (which cuts out sixth gear) is preferable.

    We'll have to wait for a road test to see whether this means (as it did with the S-type R) Jaguar's performance figures can't be attained. The claimed 0-to-60 time of five seconds for the new XJR would make it the fastest current production Jaguar. The regular 4.2, at 6.3 seconds to 60 mph, is 0.6 second quicker than its 4.0-liter predecessor, according to Jaguar.

    The XJ's aluminum structure is lighter and also stiffer than the less-expensive steel S-type's. The only telltale signs of the aluminum construction are doors that are light to close with a solid thunk and the thicker windshield pillars that can impede the driver's view at oblique intersections.

    Otherwise, making a lighter, bigger Jaguar has brought only advantages. With newfound space that the old model lacked and a better driving experience, the U.S. buyer benefits from a new deal inspired by environmental pressures. A roughly 10-percent fuel-economy improvement on the old XJ8 may not be so critical in the States, but the lightweight structure has made it possible to reintroduce a 3.0-liter V-6 XJ in Europe that still gives performance appropriate for a Jaguar but with significantly lower running costs.

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    Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
    Estimated base price: $60,000-$75,000
    Engines: DOHC 32-valve 4.2-liter V-8, 294 hp, 303 lb-ft; supercharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve 4.2-liter V-8, 390 hp, 399 lb-ft
    Transmission 6-speed automatic with lockup torque converter
    Wheelbase 119.4 in
    Length 200.4 in
    Width 73.2 in
    Height 57.0 in
    Curb weight 3800-3950 lb

    Manufacturer's performance ratings:
    Zero to 60 mph 5.0-6.3 sec
    Top speed (governor limited) 121-155 mph

    Projected fuel economy:
    EPA city driving 17-18 mpg
    EPA highway driving 24-28 mpg

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  2. L7

    L7 Mr Negativity

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    Minus the wheels, it looks nice.
     
  3. GReddy EX

    GReddy EX Guest

    7 series > that
     
  4. Girth

    Girth ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ OT Supporter

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    They all look the same to me... and they all look like junk to me. Personally, I will never own a Junk-guar.
     
  5. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    Pretty pimp, and I'm glad they are paying attention to weight reduction.
     
  6. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Not.

    That car is infinitely sexier inside and out than the current 7-series. If I were in the market for a large expensive luxury car, this would be at the top of my list.
     
  7. ZAQ786

    ZAQ786 BMW: The reason Lexus is still 'In the pursuit of

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    :werd: BMW 7 > BMW 5 > that
     
  8. Sideways

    Sideways Do I look like I give a damn?

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    the new XJ looks sessy... nothing like that futuristic bangled ugly ass 7 series.

    I'd rock the XJR as a daily driver. The fit and finish of the XJ interiors put BMW, MB, etc to shame.
     
  9. daft punk

    daft punk New Member

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    Incredible
     
  10. Ben

    Ben Guest

    I'd love to have an XJR for a day. I'd have a lot of fun. :big grin:
     
  11. wescx

    wescx Guest

    Looks nice, classic jag.
     
  12. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

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    I would rock it.
     
  13. Omega6_Virus

    Omega6_Virus New Member

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    Give me the XJR. Probably my favorite sedan.
    Jag > BMW
     
  14. Coma Black

    Coma Black Guest

    Jag XJ was due for a major overhaul.

    XJR = teh Gawd. 400 horses and 400 ft-lbs of torque in a 3800lb sedan. Classic design, beautiful interior, and (relatively) frugal fuel economy.

    Current M5? What's that?
     

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