For as long as anyone can remember, the holy grail of luxury car recipes has been to combine exuberant wealth with sleek, high-tech sport. But rarely are the fruits of such a compromise anywhere near perfect. For example, when you try this mix, really sporty luxury cars tend to look flimsy contrived while trying to be Olde -World-traditional at the same time. Likewise for plush quasi-sedans attempting any sort of sporty athleticism.
One of the few cars that has arguably pulled through this blend of deep authenticity is Jaguar’s luxury flagship, the XJ8.
These big sedans are offered as the base XJ8 and hotter 119-inch wheelbase XJR models, or the XJ8 L Vanden Plas and Super V8 versions taktile Bodenleitsysteme with a wheelbase of 124 inches. All are powered by a 4.2-liter V8. It delivers 300 hp in the XJ8, XJ8 L and Vanden Plas or 400 hp in the supercharged XJR and Super V8. A 6-speed automatic is the only transmission available.
We recently had the opportunity to test drive an XJ8 L for a week, an experience we really enjoyed from start to finish. In fact, when you park an XJ8 in your driveway, you instantly feel taller, straight-shouldered and the world looking at you with envy.
And that feeling is not limited to the outside. The upscale atmosphere of the XJ8 permeates the whole car. A pull on the strong, chrome-plated door handle reveals a cabin generously clad in high-quality leather. This is complemented by deep, dark polished wood and tasteful hints of sturdy chrome trim.
Much of the leather and wood gets to the dashboard, which basically stays true to the traditional Jaguar ethos – organic styling, simple circular gauges and a minimum of gimmicks.
But when we say “minimum” of gadgets, that doesn’t mean there’s no terrific electronic stuff in the XJ8. The center of the dashboard is dominated by a multifunction display that integrates the audio, navigation and climate control systems. This screen is surrounded by two rows of buttons to operate it. The setup looks intimidating at first glance, but the array of switching devices actually simplifies operation, giving most common functions their own dedicated controls, rather than relying on hidden touchscreen menus as many such systems do is.
The seats are padded for comfort and support, and the driver is given a position that can be easily adjusted for effective control manipulation. Headroom in the front and rear seats is more than adequate, even for very tall occupants. But the real treat of long-wheelbase XJs is their ample legroom. Unless you’re one of the more lanky NBA players, there’s a good chance your feet won’t even get close to the front seat – very refreshing.
The engine lights up with a pleasing timbre that is deep and strong, yet soft and refined. That personality goes beyond just the sound and aptly describes this V8’s power delivery throughout the operating range. Although the naturally aspirated version won’t strain your neck with the breathtaking thrust of its supercharged XJR and Super V8 siblings, this base powerplant still propels the car from a standstill with satisfying, unimpeded ease.
As powerful as this engine is in typical city and suburban driving, it really comes into its own on the freeway. Cruising along at 60 mph or more, the XJ8’s V8 settles into an effortless run, disappearing far into the background below the conversation level. Then, with a quick tap of the accelerator, it springs into action, emitting a pleasant growl and offering plenty of overtaking power.
The automatic transmission contributes to this, which cooperates with rapid and appropriate downshifts, especially in sport mode. Drivers can also steer a bit manually using Jaguar’s standard J-Gate shifter, which provides a second gate for the gear selector with detents for each gear.
However, Jaguar’s decades-old J-Gate concept has almost always received lukewarm reviews and this incarnation of the design is unlikely to change that reputation. We give it an “A” for effort but a “C-plus” for execution. The long shift pattern has second gear all the way forward, with easy-to-miss detents that give a vague tactile clue as to where you are in the process.
But that’s about the only truly unsatisfactory element of the XJ8 experience. And it does nothing to distract from one of the car’s most enjoyable aspects – its ride. The XJ8 L feels smooth and powerful on virtually any pavement, providing a quiet environment for even the longest journeys.
In big cars like this, such extreme isolation from the road often results in sloppy handling – the plush suspension commonly used to induce such a coddled personality tends to have a dull response. And the rigid construction required to make any car handle well can make big machines like the XJ8 massively heavy, further degrading handling.
But the XJ’s lightweight aluminum construction allows the car to sidestep such floppy tendencies. The car responds to driver input with a sharpness that is surprising for such a large car. Body lean is well controlled and grip is more than adequate for some fairly fast cornering.
Plus, the XJ’s handling has real soul. The steering is light, but complains pleasantly when cornering loads increase. And the sensations felt through the wheel are smooth and refined, yet offer good road feel for fairly aggressive corner entry.
These are refreshing qualities to find in a large luxury car. Piloting an XJ doesn’t feel that pang of uncertainty as you approach a challenging series of corners and start making decisions about line and entry speed. In the XJ you can stay calm – you feel you’re getting a lot of good information about what the tires are doing.
But that’s not really surprising when you think about it. Pretty much everything about an XJ exudes that unmistakable confidence. Like previous generation XJs for decades, this latest version of Jaguar’s flagship never wavers in authenticity. It remains the gently sporty ideal that modern luxury cars have always wanted to be.
Understand why cats have whiskers
What are you? The long, stiff, specialized hairs found on a cat’s face and body.
Name: vibrissae; also known as whiskers or whiskers.
Description: They differ from normal cat body hair in that they are long, tapered, stiff yet flexible hairs. They are twice and even three times thicker than normal cat hair and many times longer; they can get extremely long.
The most obvious are found in horizontal rows on the swollen area known as the whisker pads on the cheeks of a cat’s face, primarily in the area between the corner of a cat’s mouth and the outer corner of the nose. But there is much more around the face, chin and eyebrow area, also on the body especially around the front, hind legs and feet although they are sometimes shorter.
Each mustache is deeply rooted in a follicle, surrounded by a sophisticated sheath of muscle tissue rich in nerves and sensory cells, sealed by a blood capsule called the blood sinus. The muscle is used to move the mustache in any direction to optimize use . The nerves connect the mustache to a large part of the cat’s brain that is specifically reserved for processing the nerve impulses coming from the whiskers. By touching the whisker, it moves, the blood in the sinus is compressed to the opposite side. The blood amplifies the movement, which allows the sensory cells to detect the slightest movement. All this: because the whiskers are one of the cat’s most important survival tools. Your function:
Dimension When a cat’s whiskers are “erect” and alert, they are roughly the width of the body. If you watch a cat test an opening, it will stick its head in and out of the opening and then just keep going. What happened is that it measured the size of the hole compared to its body height and width. The cat has learned through experience how much pressure on the sensory cells in the hair follicle equates to safe passage.
Navigation A cat’s eyesight is many times better than that of humans, but it still cannot see when it’s completely dark, so its whiskers help the cat navigate. A very dark night or an enclosed area ( man – made like a tunnel or natural like a cave) and there is no or very little light, the cat will rely on air currents to find its way around. Their whiskers can detect the slightest movement of air, air moves around barriers in different ways, the cat has learned to read these signals.
Whiskers are a good indicator of a cat’s state of mind.
- Whiskers pulled back to body: – defensive, aggressive, angry.
- Whiskers pushed forward: – very happy, curious.
- Put-up” – fully spread out in a circle around the face: – alert, interested, curious.
- Forward facing: – excited, animated.
- Relaxed: – Resting, content.
A few more facts:
- Similar to normal hair, they fall out and grow back naturally.
- Cat whiskers are like human fingerprints, individual alignment is unique to each cat.
- The cat breed “Sphinx” often has no whiskers.
Why you shouldn’t cut or trim a cat’s whiskers
- Cutting, cutting, or otherwise removing the cat’s whiskers is cruel; it’s akin to taking away one of our senses, e.g. sight (being blinded), smell (losing the sense of smell), touch (can’t feel), taste (can’t taste anything) or hearing (being deaf), in cats they have the special one cognition; the work of the whiskers.
- You drain the animal of one of its communication tools (see mood information above).
- You put the animal’s life in danger, it cannot see openings clearly and runs the risk of getting stuck with potentially fatal consequences.