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New Product in Brief: 2005 Jaguar XJ Long Wheelbase

Extra-long Cat

Jaguar launched its all-new, aluminum-bodied XJ sedans for 2004 and follows for ’05 with three long-wheelbase models: XJ8 L, Vanden Plas and Super V-8 (shown above). Jaguar has offered LWB models all through the XJ’s life, starting with a stretched version of the original in 1972, and these new ones are expected to account for the majority of XJ sales in the United States.

Clever Stretch

To add rear room while retaining the proportion and dynamic character of the standard XJ, engineers stretched the wheelbase five in., increasing overall length to 205.3 in. and making the rear doors essentially as long as the front doors. The roofline was raised slightly and given a subtle new curvature for visual balance, while the wheels increased from 17 to 18 in. These changes required only 17 new body parts (including the large side pressings, doors and roof), retained the standard models’ exceptional stiffness and added just 53 pounds in weight.

Rear Room and Function

The larger rear door openings, 4.5 inches added knee room and ample headroom provide a substantial feeling of spaciousness in the rear cabin. The three-passenger back bench offers optional 4- way power adjustment and a unique control to move the front passenger seat forward for even more legroom. Picnic trays (standard in Vanden Plas and Super V-8) fold down from the front seatbacks for reading, writing or using a laptop, which can be powered from a nearby auxiliary socket. There’s also multi-media connectivity for iPod, MP3, game systems, etc., with optional 6.5-inch screens in the backs of the front headrests.

Advanced Powertrain

Both 294-hp standard and 390-hp supercharged 4.2L DOHC 4-valve aluminum VCP (variable camshaft phasing) V-8s are coupled to a ZF stepped six-speed automatic with a Bosch Mechatronic electro-hydraulic shift mechanism that uses adaptive shift strategy (controlled by the ECU) to respond to road conditions and the way the car is being driven. The (widely unloved) “J-Gate” gear selector gets a shorter-throw lever action with more precisely defined detents and a choice of “normal” or “sport” mode, the latter extending the shift points to make full use of the engine’s power.

Advanced Chassis

Front and rear double-wishbone suspensions are mostly aluminum with air (vs. steel coil) springs and Jaguar’s enhanced Computer Active Technology Suspension (eCATS) adaptive damping. Also standard are an electronic parking brake, 4-channel ABS with Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) and a new Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system that reacts to and controls both understeer and oversteer. Brembo brakes with steel-braided hoses and new 19 x 8.5-inch alloy wheels are standard on the high-performance Super V-8.

Safety Systems

Jaguar’s Advanced Restraint Technology System (ARTS) monitors the driver’s position relative to the steering wheel, the position, weight of the front-seat passenger and the usage of seat belts, then senses the type and severity of a collision and deploys the airbags accordingly. Two-stage front airbags and side thorax bags protect the driver and front passenger, while side air curtains deploy in medium-to-high side impacts to protect both front and rear passengers.

Jaguar XJ LWB At a Glance
What it is: Stretched rwd high-luxury sedan
Who it’s for:Luxury sedan buyers preferring Jaguar image, style and elegance over American, German or Japanese
Where it’s built:Coventry, England
Competitors: Audi A8L, BMW 745Li,
Engine:4.2L DOHC 4-valve aluminum VCP (variable camshaft phasing) V-8
Horsepower:standard 294 at 6,000 rpm;
supercharged 390 at 6,100 rpm
Torque: standard 303 lb.ft. at 4,100 rpm;
supercharged 399 lb.ft. at 3,500 rpm
Transmission: ZF 6HP26 stepped sixspeed automatic with Bosch Mechatronic electro-hydraulic shift mechanism
Curb Weight: 3614 lb.
EPA Economy:standard 18/28/22;
supercharged 17/24/20 City/Highway/Combined
Base Price:XJ8 L $63,495;
XJ Vanden Plas $70,995;
XJ Super V-8 $89,995
What we think:Silky-smooth, leather and wood-lined British elegance with prodigious power, traditional Jaguar dynamics, plethora of features and ultra-spacious rear room.
Supplier Involvement
Seating, cabin trim, harnesses:Lear
Instrument panel, center console: Intier
Instrument cluster, rear differential:Visteon
Aluminum body:Alcan
Climate control, navigation: Denso
Transmission, steering, control arms: ZF
Air suspension:Thyssenkrupp
Front and rear bumpers: Plastic Omnium
Bumper beams: Hydro Automotive
Propshaft, aluminum steering knuckle:GKN
Front and rear crossmembers:Benteler
Fuel supply units: Siemens VDO