- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The automotive business is about cars — and cars are about passion. And passion is about indulging the senses: the feel of the road, the smell of leather, the sound of an engine, and most of all the looks of a well-styled machine. Good looks on a car can be understated and functional. Good looks can also be outrageous and seductive. But good looks always make a statement.

With the advances in high-tech engineering and computer design, it is hard to find a bad new car. That said, it is equally hard to find a great car — a car that truly excels in all mechanical and technological aspects while at the same time truly touches the senses of the soul.

The new Jaguar XJ is a great car. It exudes passion in every curve, every seam and every angle. It is a showcase for the interaction between man and machine.

The new XJ, especially the supercharged XJR, is the fusion of a true sports car and a luxury touring car. It adapts seamlessly to the driver’s demands, delivering a motoring experience that is as stirring and inspiring as the appearance of the vehicle itself. It is an exciting car, packed with innovation and technology.

Distinctive and confident, the new XJ has a beautiful, pure style. Its characteristic blend of attributes inherent in the Jaguar psyche — emotional engineering, stimulating performance, intelligent technology and downright sexy design — make the new XJ series instantly recognizable as a true Jaguar.

The new XJ is the most advanced production Jaguar ever. In this seventh generation, an aluminum body replaces traditional steel construction. It is longer, taller and wider and about 40 percent lighter and 60 percent stiffer than the model it replaces.

“We chose the lightweight vehicle architecture for the new XJ not because it was something new,” says XJ Chief Program Engineer, David Scholes, “but because it would help us deliver significant benefits for our customers. Ultimately, they may not care whether the body structure is aluminum or steel, but the Jaguar customer does care very much about performance, dynamics, fuel economy, emissions and safety.

Indeed, there was no question about the exhilarating performance of the 4.2-liter V-8 supercharged XJR test car. Producing an amazing 400 horsepower, the engine is mated to an advanced six-speed automatic transmission that was the smoothest shifting I have ever experienced, especially during aggressive acceleration. The quickest model in the new XJ series, the XJR does 0-60 mph in just 5 seconds and has a top speed electronically limited to 155 mph.

Inside, the new Jaguar XJ’s luxurious interior has new levels of spaciousness, craftsmanship, ergonomic flexibility and seat comfort, complemented by state-of-the-art entertainment, climate control and communications systems. And yet alongside these practical considerations, the interior of the new XJ remains a warm and inviting classic Jaguar interior, an ambience set off by real wood veneers and soft, hand-stitched leather.

Jaguar’s philosophy of incorporating relevant technologies quickly becomes evident from behind the wheel. With the intuitive and relaxed interfaces between occupants and the vehicle’s many electronic driver aids, the new XJ makes you feel instantly at home. This is an approach that separates Jaguar from many of its luxury competitors.

“You don’t have to be a computer programmer to operate this car,” Mr. Scholes says. “Our customers are emphatic in their opposition to gratuitous technology and unwanted features intruding on their driving experience; it should be there when you need it but should never impose itself.”

Advanced telematics and communications technologies include a 7-inch LCD touch-screen display that provides fingertip control of climate, audio and DVD navigation systems. In the rear of the new XJ, an available multimedia system allows passengers to access audio, TV/video and telephone systems independently of each other. As an example, one of the rear passengers can view a video on DVD while the other rear passenger plays a video game.

JaguarVoice provides drivers and rear passengers with access to voice-activated control of compatible Jaguar systems, including primary audio functions, teletext, telephone, climate control, navigation systems and in-vehicle displays. Jaguar has made voice activation a technology an ongoing priority to reduce distraction when driving.

Pricey to be sure, this new Jaguar is the cat’s meow of world-class driving luxury sedans. And if price is really no object, the supercharged XJR is just the ticket.

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