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Revved up over Jaguar XJ
By Christopher Evans/ BostonHerald.com
Saturday, November 24, 2012


     
     The 2013 Jaguar XJ with a 3-liter, V6 engine was a tough sell — at first.
     
     My initial reaction was that the smaller engine would diminish the prestige of the luxury sedan that I’d always known to have an abundance of brawn under the hood.
     
     However, when I laid eyes on the elegant sedan painted up in “British Racing” green with a bold mesh chrome grille, my reaction was anything but dissatisfaction.
     
     While the XJ’s exterior dazzles, the interior takes luxury to another level. Well-appointed leather with conspicuous stitching adorned the interior surfaces. Dark walnut wood paneling contrasted the cashew-colored seats.
     
     Our test model included an optional $1,400 comfort package with a front-seat massage feature that is truly a “you gotta check this out” feature. The massage function has three levels of intensity. In addition, the front seats electronically adjust in 12 different ways. Both the front and rear seats were heated and ventilated as part of an optional four-zone climate control system.
     
     The XJ’s supercharged V6 engine produces 340 horsepower and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The combination gives the luxury sedan the performance personality of a V8 with the benefit of respectable gas mileage. The XJ’s EPA gas mileage rating is 18 city/28 highway. But for those who can’t live without the extra two cylinders, the XJ has three other V8 engine options ranging in horsepower from 385 to 510.
     
     The XJ also has an idle-reducing feature that shuts the engine down when the sedan comes to a stop and restarts in less time than it takes the driver’s foot to move from the brake pedal to the accelerator. The default feature, which is showing up on many other manufacturers’ 2013 models, increases fuel efficiency in urban driving situations. Drivers unaware of the feature might be fooled into thinking their new car just stalled out. Although I eventually got used to the feature, it’s easy to override.
     
     Our test XJ had three driving modes: normal, dynamic and winter. The normal mode delivers a comfortable and leisurely character. Switching to dynamic mode and shifting through the eight speeds using the steering wheel transformed the sedan’s character to aggressive and responsive. Regardless of mode or conditions, the sedan was smooth in braking and in handling and felt like a much smaller car as the XJ held its line through corners.
     
     I found it easy to get wrapped up and even a little overwhelmed by the luxury features packed into the 2013 XJ. What intrigued me most about the XJ was what Jaguar was able to accomplish with its six-cylinder engine: a powerful, yet reasonably fuel-efficient luxury sedan.

( -— carsmart@bostonherald.com )

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