2011 Jaguar XJ Supersport Road Test Review

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Sir William Lyons, founder of Jaguar, coined the phrase "space, pace and grace" to define the characteristics of the sedans (saloons, for those of you well versed in English-English) his company built. With the emergence of the Jaguar XJ Supersport, his successors have taken that phrase and expanded upon it in a most magnificent fashion.

Jaguar's top performing five-passenger four-door sedan features a 510-horsepower supercharged 5.0-litre V8 producing 461 ft-lbs of torque, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission programmable for both comfort and sport operation. Jaguar quotes a 5.0-second 100km/h sprint-though we achieved the feat in the low four-second range quite consistently in our testing.

On winding roads, the XJ Supersport takes to the corners with the same verve exhibited by its XK sibling. A flick of the paddle shifter behind the wheel commands the transmission to downshift after fblipping the throttle to match revs, and releasing a gloriously sonorous blat from the four tailpipes. Immaculately balanced, the XJ claws into corners, holds on tight and screams toward the exit, emitting a deep guttural baritone growl from the V8 you'll have to hear to believe. Accelerating off the corner, the rear of the cat squats and the big cat scats (you had to know that one was coming) toward the next apex as if being chased by a pack of snarling Dobermans.

Thing is, this cat has more than enough scratch to turn and send those hounds yowling home to their mothers. And while this is an experience one expects from a two-seat sportster whose rough ride and minimal comfort and convenience features are attributed to its abilities, we're talking about one of the world's foremost luxury sedans here. That the car conveys both palatial comfort and outstanding dynamics is a key aspect of Sir William's dictum. In other words, in their quest for outsized pace, Jaguar's engineers kept the grace firmly in place. The ride, while admittedly tauter than the standard Jaguar XJ's-in fact the base suspension in the Supersport is that of the XJ Supercharged-is nonetheless supple, and comfortable.

Befitting its role as Jaguar's flagship, the roster of standard equipment is outstanding. Everything in the car is either wrapped in leather or accented with the finest woods available and aluminum. And we're not talking just plain old leather either; this leather is so smooth and soft it makes a baby's bottom feel like Keith Richards' face looks.
A 30-gig hard disc drive and a media hub-supporting every imaginable audio source-feed a 1,200-watt audio system. The seats are heated and cooled, and the front seats adjust twenty ways. Meanwhile, the automatic climate control system assuages the potential discomfort of four different individuals.

Mounted high in the centre stack, an eight-inch touch screen monitor controls the audio, navigation, climate, and communications systems. And while we appreciate the convenience it confers, we do find it a tad slow to respond. Instead of reacting to a touch, it prefers your finger to linger on the screen before it responds. Given the alacrity with which the rest of the Supersport reacts to inputs, this can be a bit disconcerting as you wait for a command to register.

Still, the English clubroom atmosphere of the XJ Supersport's interior is absolutely intoxicating. In fact, were it not in a motorcar (a bit more English-English there blokes) the XJ's cabin would be an ideal place to enjoy a brandy, a cigar and some jovial conversation with a few mates. But saloon or no, introducing alcohol to a situation this potent-well-let's just say some cocktails are better left to the imagination.

And toward that end, Jaguar does nothing overt to inform passersby of the amazing potential of this iteration of its flagship. Subtle Supersport badges on the trailing edge of the XJ's wings (front fenders, Canuckleheads) and 20-inch wheels are the only visual cues announcing the Jaguar's potential prowess. Available in both standard and long wheel base configurations, the Jaguar XJ Supersport is today's ultimate iteration of Sir William's philosophy.

Jaguar XJ Supersport pricing starts at $128,000.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sport Sedan, Luxury Sedan, Jaguar, 2011, XJ Supersport, $99,999+,

Organizations: Jaguar

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