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The 2007 Jaguar Super V8
Sport luxury sedans tend to compromise on both sides of the equation, but the 2007 Jaguar Super V8 serves up ostentatious luxury with some pretty impressive drivability. The Super V8 sits at the top of Jaguar's XJ model lineup, bringing in the extended wheelbase and luxury appointments of the XJ Vanden Plas, plus the 400-horsepower supercharged V-8 engine of the XJR. It's for people who want it all.
With its classic and unique body styling, the Super V8 is unmistakably a Jaguar. Ford's custodianship of the brand didn't interfere with the look of the cars. While the XJ styling has quite a bit of history, the car doesn't look dated. The roofline has a nice rise that makes room for large side-windows, while the rear of the car actually looks good, something car designers from other companies have had difficulty with in recent years. The front stands out the most, however, with its chrome mesh grille set like a jewel between bumper and hood. And we really like the rounded portions coming down the hood to meet the four distinct headlight enclosures.
From behind the wheel, it's the supercharger that stands out. As we stomped the throttle and heard its glorious whine, we were reminded of James Bond's Bentley, with its Villiers supercharger, from the book Casino Royale. The interior is particularly nice, with big, comfortable seats and trim pieces in both wood and leather. The car comes standard with a full round of technology, including a navigation system, Bluetooth phone integration, a very good Alpine audio system, and even rear-seat DVD entertainment.
Test the tech: Executive-class blogging
For our tech test of the Super V8, we made use of the executive-class rear seat by writing a blog about the car while being chauffeured around in it. Editor Kevin Massy drove, enjoying the power afforded by the supercharged 4.2-liter V-8 probably a little too much. Wayne Cunningham had his laptop perched on the picnic table, which folds down from the back of the front seat. It wasn't the most stable setup, especially with Massy hitting the throttle hard when the traffic lights turned green, but when we got on the freeway, things smoothed out a bit.
Editor Wayne Cunningham pretends to get some work done while enjoying the luxurious back seat of the Jaguar Super V8.
The rear seat of the Jag has seat-adjustment controls, one that controls the recline angle of the rear seat, and another that moves the front seat back and forth. With the latter button, Cunningham could either maximize his legroom or move the laptop closer for better ergonomics. We also had a Bluetooth cell phone paired with the car; a keypad set into the center armrest lets the rear-seat passenger make calls. For relaxation, the rear-seat passenger can watch movies on the LCD set into the headrest, so long as a DVD has previously been loaded into the player mounted in the trunk.
The ride was a little bumpy, until the chauffer eased off on the acceleration and took the car out of Sport mode, which is activated by a button on the center console. On city streets, typing was more difficult. The streets are a little rough in San Francisco, and you definitely feel it. The many starts and stops from the traffic lights don't help, either. Overall, though, we could get a lot done on a long freeway trip from the backseat.
In the cabin
Whether in the front or the rear seats, we found the interior of the Super V8 extraordinarily luxurious. It was no Rolls-Royce Phantom, but it had a few similar elements. The two-tone leather is a particularly nice touch, with dark brown leather covering the top of the dashboard, something you don't see very often. Jaguar hasn't gone to smart keys yet, although this is one of the more unique keys you will ever see. It's a short rod with some odd protrusions at its end, and fits into a pinhole in the dashboard.
We like everything about the Bluetooth cell phone integration, except maybe the color scheme of the onscreen menu.
The interface for the car uses a touch screen LCD complemented by quite a few hard buttons. We found it a very functional setup, with nice graphics for the buttons and menus, although we didn't care for the brown color scheme. You can pair and control a Bluetooth phone through the interface, and we were very impressed with the integration. The pairing process requires reading the manual, as you have to enter a character string into the car's keypad to put it in pairing mode, after which you'll need the car's phone security code, also found in the manual. Our Samsung SGH-D807 paired up very easily, automatically reconnecting every time we started up the car, and our phone book was immediately made available on the car's LCD. Call clarity was also very good.
The navigation system uses nicely rendered maps and is very easy to use because of the touch screen LCD. There are multiple ways of entering a destination: by address, intersection, freeway entrance or exit, or from the points-of-interest database, among others. The points-of-interest listing is about average, having common categories such as gas stations and restaurants, but lacking retail stores. We particularly like that you can enter multiple destinations in easily. Whenever you enter a destination, it gives you the option of calling it a waypoint or your final destination. Route guidance also works well, with good prompting and informative graphics for upcoming turns.
The black plastic of the rear-seat control center is ugly, but you can do a lot with it.
The Alpine audio system measured up to the Super V8's level of luxury, producing very good sound with its 320 watt amp and 12 speakers. But the quality of the audio was subtle, and we weren't completely blown away by it. The stereo itself is a little behind the times--the single disc slot in the dashboard doesn't play MP3 CDs, and there is no auxiliary jack. Satellite radio is optional, and the cartridge-style six disc changer is mounted in the trunk, so you better choose your CDs before you set out.
An Alpine DVD player is mounted above the CD changer in the trunk, and this feeds video to the LCD screens set in the backs of the headrests. The rear seat passengers are well-taken care of, also getting a tray table that folds out from the back of the front seats, a control pad for entertainment and communications, and dual-zone climate control. Although the ugly plastic of the control center looked out of place amongst the nice leather of the armrest, we liked its functionality. It works very well for making phone calls and controlling DVD movies, and even has a set of jacks so you can plug in games or other devices.
Under the hood
As mentioned above, the supercharger, blowing into a 4.2-liter V-8, gives this car a unique performance character. It contributes to the 400 horsepower and makes a wonderful sound when it's engaged. You will want to accelerate frequently until the novelty wears off. Jaguar claims the Super V8 gets to 60mph in 5 seconds, a respectable figure, but it actually feels faster, possibly due to the size of the car. Throttle response is good, and you can feel the supercharger give a slight kick when it engages around 2,000rpm.
The supercharger gives the 4.2-liter engine a nice kick.
The power is fed to the rear wheels through a smooth-shifting six- speed automatic transmission. We were generally happy with this transmission, although the manual gear selection mode, accessible on one side of Jaguar's classic J-gate, seemed to have trouble engaging gears at times. We would slide it into third and not feel any reaction, so we'd have to reset it in the third-gear position. But people who buy this car are not likely to spend a lot of time shifting. We were surprised that, when put into reverse, the rear-window sunshade didn't automatically retract, as we've seen on other cars. There is also no rear-view camera, although the audible park distance warnings work well. The Super V8 handles fine, without too much understeer. It's a big car, so you won't want to get the tires really squealing around turns. We found a particularly hairy road, Big Basin Way in the Santa Cruz mountains, which was only about a lane-and-a-half wide for two-way traffic, didn't have much in the way of lane markings, and had plenty of tight turns with dips and rises. We regretted taking the Super V8 along here, as it became more of a chore to get it safely around these corners than any kind of fun. We would have been much happier here in a small Mazda MX-5.
This shifter uses the classic Jaguar J-gate, and the Sport mode button makes the transmission hold its gears a little longer.
With this big of an engine and a supercharger, you know that fuel economy is going to be poor. Under the EPA's new testing regime, the Super V8 gets 15mpg city and 22mpg highway. From our experience, 22mpg would be difficult to get. We averaged 16.5mpg in mixed driving. For emissions, it gets the minimal LEV II rating from California's Air Resources Board.
The 2007 Jaguar Super V8 comes very well-equipped for its base price of $91,335. There are few options available--with the only significant tech addition being Sirius satellite radio for $450. With its $665 destination charge, our base model Super V8 came in at the nice, round figure of $92,000.
In the high-end sport-luxury segment, there are few cars that have the class of the Jaguar, but many that have better sound systems. The Lexus LS 460 can be had for less money with a spectacular-sounding 19-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, complete with a hard-drive music server and a better navigation system. For considerably less money, the Audi A6 is a good performer and has a very convenient iPod dock. But none of these cars match the looks of the 2007 Jaguar Super V8, and nothing makes a sound like the Jaguar's supercharger.