First drive: Jaguar XJ Supercharged V8 Supersport


In the press pack on the front passenger seat lay the spec sheet for Autoblog's latest test car, the Jaguar XJ 5.0l Supercharged V8 Supersport.

What wasn't listed on that long and detailed spec probably wasn't worth having which made the £88,000 price tag a reasonable figure in the circumstances but what surprised us when we took delivery of the XJ was just how quickly you take luxury for granted.

Jaguar XJ Supersport road test

Jaguar XJ Supersport road test

Brits like a good moan and we're pretty good at it when all's said and done but was it really appropriate when reception to the three on-board TVs cut out occasionally while we were on the move?

Maybe so if you've forked out nigh on £100k for a car and you've just missed the crucial shot that won The Open but that was small beer when there was so much more to enjoy from this power-sodden luxury car.

The 3.0 diesel XJ is the bread and butter for Jaguar in terms of UK sales with the remainder split between the 5.0 petrol and our 5.0 supercharged model. But is Jaguar's market audience really looking for a supercharged V8?

If they're intent on denying the inevitable slide into flabby middle age, then it could keep customers on the right side of youth for a while longer - at some cost, mind - but that's not what Jags are about any more, is it?

We've all seen the ads; the Big Cat has moved sleekly into the 21st Century and got herself a whole new stylish - and more importantly - young following. The XJ is part of that new world as Jaguar looks to prise buyers away from their Germans rivals.

And they're doing it through looks, performance and a healthy dose of luxuriousness.

Granted, at 1.8 tonnes the XJ is a big beast and we're still not wholly convinced by that front grille and huge rear end, but essentially this is familiar territory as classic Jaguar lines mix with modern flourishes.

Inside and the cabin oozes quality from every leather-bound and 'Rich Oak' pore: heated steering wheel with sequential shift paddles, front seats with massage and ventilation features, panoramic glass roof, four-zone temperature control, a Bowers & Wilkins entertainment system that puts most home stereos to shame and those TVs: two in the back and another dual-screen in the centre console that allows the driver to see satnav instructions while the passenger can watch a movie (with the wireless headphones if required).

There's not as much room inside as you might expect which was inititally disconcerting as we gauged just how wide the car was on the road. On motorways this wasn't really an issue but some urban and country driving made for occasional teeth-sucking moments.

However, testing on those sorts of roads was a joyous revelation. We expected the steering to be heavy and 'relaxed' as befitting a luxury car but what we got was something altogether quicker and more direct. And fun.

Admittedly, that also came from having 510PS of power and 625Nm of torque that can propel the XJ from 0-60mph in 4.7s, but the light and responsive steering turned this bulky saloon into a zippy sportscar that took to country lanes without a second's hesitation. At the same time, the smoothness of the XJ's ride on the motorway meant a 250-mile run up the M1 was equally as pleasurable.

We did wince when we topped £100 to (not quite) fill up but the price of unleaded is not in Jaguar's control and if you can afford one of these cars, then fuel costs may not be of paramount concern. However, a combined fuel consumption figure of 23.4mpg - and considerably less if you've got your foot down - will mean regular trips to the petrol pump. Just make sure to have plenty of fun inbetween.