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Car Tech Video: 2011 Jaguar XJ Supersport
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Car Tech Video: 2011 Jaguar XJ Supersport

7:54 /

Jaguar's classic sedan changes everything but the number of cylinders.

-Well, it used to be you knew what an XJ looked like--an elegantly-balanced sedan with lots of wood veneer, Connolly hides, and even little funny picnic tables. But while the new XJ has most of that, you'll be too busy asking, "That's an XJ?" to notice. Let's drive the 2011 Supersport and check the tech. The new XJ has the new Jaguar face, of course; 4 doors still but a sloping coupe-like rear aspect. They call this eggplanty color caviar and it blends rather sneakly into the always-black C-pillar garnish--part of designer Ian Callum's controversial new take on the hind quarters. And speaking of hind quarters, our XJ moves its' very decisively because it's a Supersport--the top of the stack for performance. But, we'll get to that. Here is where we begin our first round of the game, hit or miss. First thing you see when you get in this Jag is virtual instrumentation. On the center stack, you've got the latest addition of Jaguar's effort to try and make things very virtual, reduce the number of buttons but not have so much damn animation going back and forth. Blessedly now, you can turn off needless animation that used to kill all kinds of valuable seconds while you are interacting with it, but the system is still slow. Then they've got needleless bearing that makes me nuts. To get to the seat heaters, there are no simple buttons. You've gotta, first, enable the seat heater mode, wait, then go to the virtual buttons for the seat heater, wait for them to take effect, and you've got seat zones for bottom, and back, and top, and that's all real nice. But again, slow is the keyword here. If I have media on the screen and I go to adjust the temperature, it takes a second for it to react, and even worse, it pulls a pop-up menu up there. And that takes a while for that to go away because it doesn't know when I'm done looking at it. It's an interference I just don't need. That said, this is a really well-designed overall system in terms of how it's bringing a lot of technology to bear in one place. You've got just about everything you want in terms of the media system. You've got radio in this car being AM, FM, and HD radio. Sat radio is Sirius on a Jaguar. My Music brings up all your different sources, and there are quite a few here. You've got a single-slot CD right here. Rip that to the hard drive, 30 gigabytes. You've got your iPod hooked up interestingly with dual USB jacks: one for iPod, another one for USB thumb drives, or so they're labeled. Now, here's my Droid hooked up as a music player because it has A2DP stereo Bluetooth on this guy. The navigation system is one of the better-looking out there. They've done a really good job of rendering roads, the typefaces on the streets. Things of that nature are looking really good at this point. I like this about the nav. As you get closer to an event, something you've gotta turn or make sure you're in the right lane, it takes over the left-most virtual gauge. The fuel, and temperature, and your music setting, and all that--relatively low-grade stuff--and put some momentary very James-Bond-Goldfinger-Aston-Martin-ish little window in there that tells you your next event. And then, when you do that, it takes that away, you go back to your gauge. It's cool. Now, while we're on the instrument panel, hit and miss. I think it's really cool that it's virtual. It allows it to prioritize things that matter at the moment, but that's the hit. The miss is, those gauges look like a graphics novel and I'm being generous. They look cartoony, to be honest, and they don't fit the quality, and the caliber, and the price of this car. I don't think. That needs to be stepped up a little in terms of elegance. Lots of ways to keep you from backing into things with this car, so, when you go into reverse, you've got a backup camera which gives you trajectory and gives you distance markings. And, on top of that, you've also got sensors--front and rear--to make sure you don't drive in to things. The shifter, by the way, is this little pop-up deal Jag's been using for a while. Park, reverse, neutral, drive, and sport mode is right there with an additional push and turn detent. I love this. Check out the jet nozzles here for the climate control system. First of all, you've got a rotator here for open or close--very elegant, nicely integrated. And then, the gimbels they sit on are fabulous--silky, but nice and stiff. Those stay exactly where you put them, infinite movement, and they're not grindy. Some other ergonomics in this car that are interesting, Jaguar has a thing called Jag Sense. Let's see. It's here in the glove box. This looks like a button but you just lay some skin on it and you get a little bit of contact, and down comes the glove box. Okay. Same thing goes on up here for these dome lights. You don't push anything. You just make contact with them and the lights come on. Great little touch in case you didn't notice here, and in here. That's a saucy color of purple they're lighting this thing with. Now, this is kind of a biggish Jaguar, but not in the second row it's not. Good God! I-- I can't ride in the back. Oh, got a nice climate system back here while you're driving around with your legs in your chin. You can also get a rear seat entertainment A/V system back here where you get dual 8-inch screens buried in the head rest, a really cool media controller that would be inside the arm rest here. Without that, we have just, ooh, lots of that great purple fuzz and, luckily, more of these nice silky little nozzles. I like those. Now, a big part of what makes an SS an SS is the motor. Jag has 2 super-charged 5-liter V8s. This is the hotter of the 2. This guy puts out 510 horsepower, 461 foot-pounds of torque. That gives this 4300-pound car up to 60 in 4.7 seconds, they claim. I don't doubt it. Mileage is, you know, it's the MPG you're okay with when you can afford a car like this. 15/21, that means, like, 16 average real world. Here's another stat you should know about: the world's chunkiest car key. You see this thing? I've got big hands. That's a big damn car key, and the weight, I actually put it on a scale. It's over 4 ounces this whole apparatus. That's a quarter of a pound! Why? Sir William Lyons always described Jaguar as being possessed of space, pace, and grace. Aside from that back row of seats, which is the space part, great pace and great grace. This is one of the cars that hits it just right, in my estimation, of having a sporty, capable, driving posture with an absolutely luxurious ride. No one else can get it quite like this, not even the Audi A8, which comes the closest, the S8. This car is the perfect blend of capable and comfortable. That's hard to do. But, of course, for $110,000 it shouldn't be too hard to do. The power comes like scalding hot oil. There's ample oomph for this car, although this 6-speed automatic and the way that the power tips in can get you into some glitchy situations. Now, hit the Dynamic Drive Mode button down here and, wooh, that all turns red up there. The whole shift profile gets different, and that's the sweet spot. It's funny. It's a lot of stagecraft, I think, but when you put this thing in Dynamic Mode, you end up getting yanked back by the seatbelt. It snugs you up. This is much to say you better hang on for your life. Okay, a 2011 XJ Supersport bases at 110 grand. Add $3000 for a long wheelbase L, and if you ever plan to give me a ride, you better. The only other CNET-style option to consider on this loaded model is the rear seat entertainment rig for $2200. But since it'll be obsolete technology before your first oil change, just go with a couple of iPads.

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