2012 Jaguar XJL Supercharged
Base price: $91,600
As tested: $94,175
MPG: 15 city/21 highway
- Shocking power
- Prestige of driving a Jag
- Style and presence
- Distracting gimmickry
- Less-than-intuitive controls
By Michael Hagerty
Once an English country gentleman’s den on four wheels, Jag spent decades trying to artfully recycle its own design themes first penned after World War II. Now, the big Jaguar is a thoroughly modern luxury sport sedan with striking good looks that owe nothing to days gone by or any other automaker’s design. All models have the luxury element covered, but it’s the Supercharged that adds the sport. Under the bonnet is a 5.0-liter, 470-horsepower supercharged engine.
Apply even one-third throttle pulling away from a stoplight and you’ll leave everyone around you in the dust, attract the attention of the law, and cause your significant other to note the exact date and time of the arrival of your midlife crisis in their smartphone calendar.
Floor it and you’ll be risking your future as a licensed driver in just a shade over five seconds. That’s because the XJL (the L signifies the long wheelbase model) hits 60 in 4.9 seconds; and it’s nowhere near finished, with 155 mph as its top speed (artificially limited).
Better to settle in at a sane pace and enjoy the surroundings. Jaguar ladles on the luxury with wood; leather; an ivory headliner; seats that heat, cool, and massage you; a panoramic glass roof; a 1200-watt Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system; and navigation, all controlled through an 8-inch HD touch-screen control.
And that’s where the only real issues are. Jaguar put so much functionality into the screen in the center of the instrument stack that if you want to do almost anything (change the radio, adjust the A/C, turn on the seat massager), you have to use it — and that means taking your eyes off the road. Plus, there’s no sensation to tell you if you’re hitting the right button.
The things that aren’t in the screen aren’t especially simple to operate, either. And with 470 horsepower, the XJL would especially benefit from simple, direct controls that allow you to keep your focus on driving.
The $91,600 base price is a bit of a shock the first time you say it out loud, but it’s actually in the ballpark with the competition. The $1,700 extra charge for the Illumination Package (lighted door and trunk sills and illuminated air vents) and $875 for transportation and handling brought the as-tested price to $94,175.
Cars like this (the competition is largely German) usually tip the scales to the performance side at the expense of comfort. Ultimately, the Jaguar XJL Supercharged does the best job so far of blending uncompromising luxury and performance into one package.