I have lived in big cities most of my life, and in those big cities, I like to live small. Now, in New York — the densest city in the US — I live in a small studio space. I prefer things that don’t take up too much room. And when it comes to automobiles, I like compact cars. I find them practical and enjoyable. I like the way they drive. Out on the road they tend to be agile, snappy and easy to maneuver. In the city, they’re easy to park. But, one has to leave the city every now and again, and while in Fort Worth, Texas, I took the opportunity to go big.
The Jaguar XJL Supercharged ($84,000) is long, large and spacious. It’s a Texas-sized luxury sedan, and it makes cars like the Bentley Continental GT3-R seem like miniature sports cars. In effect, it’s an anti-me car. It’s too big. I’m not used to driving such size. When I open the door, I step into what feels like the cockpit of a luxury private jet. The cabin’s bigger than my apartment, and I’m confident I’ll never own a piece of furniture nearly as comfortable as this seat. Nothing is familiar in here. The dashboard is a blank black screen. There’s no speedometer or odometer. I push the button to start the car and the shifter dial rises from the center console, a Jag symbol appears on screen and then the familiar dashboard instruments are digitally displayed. I put it in reverse, the rearview camera activates and I navigate this boat out of a tight spot with ease. On acceleration, the 5.0-liter V8 comes to life in smooth, steady acceleration. With 470 horsepower, the heft doesn’t feel like dead weight. Instead, the XJL Supercharged is punchy, quick, responsive.
Under the Hood
Engine: 5.0-Liter V8 Supercharged
Transmission: Eight-Speed Automatic
Torque: 424 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 4.9 seconds
Top Speed: 155 mph
MSRP: $84,000 (base) / $93,600 (as tested)
It’s easy to forget speed in the XJL, and the long, straight Texas interstates lead to mindless propulsion. In seconds, I’m up around 90 mph, coasting on in quiet solitude, gliding over the pavement. The ride is so smooth, one can quickly forget the laws of speed limits — the XJL exists beyond that. I expected a luxury sedan to be comfortable, but responsive and fast? No. Its size quickly became irrelevant, and I forgot the fact that I’m driving a car that’s nearly the length of a city block. The crisp Meridian speakers, with 7.1 surround sound, provide a palpable soundtrack for the drive, and life in the cabin takes on a certain sense of personal space. I feel at home here — as if in the environment that my apartment back in NYC always aspired to be.
If the driver’s seat is comfortable — and with the virtual instruments and the 8-inch touchscreen and optional massage seat, every comfort is considered — then it may come as a surprise that the best way to ride in the XJL is in the backseat. With the optional rear-seat package, the airline-style seats recline, boast separate cushion and shoulder-area adjustment, three massage settings, power-side window sunblinds, winged headrests, and control of the front passenger seats, the rear can be in full control. The only detraction is the loss of connection to the power — the supercharged V8 that speaks to your right foot — and for that, I recommend staying in the front seat, letting the NYC-studio-apartment-sized XJL coast you along the open highways. It’s as far from a compact car as one can get in a sedan, but to this city-dweller out in the big, open roads of Texas, the supersized, supercharged Jag feels just right.