The XJ broke with its staid tradition last year and rocked the luxury sedan establishment with its first radical redesign in more than four decades. Jaguar design chief Ian Callum banished virtually all traces of familiarity, including the iconic four round headlights, in favor of unusual cues like blacked-out C-pillars and a blunt snout for a grille. The new styling turns off some but makes a much stronger statement than the old design. The spirit of Sir William Lyons survives inside, where warm leather and generous wood trim soften futuristic bits like the rotary shifter and color screens that replace traditional gauges. The navigation and infotainment system includes HD Radio and satellite radio and features two USB ports. However, it lacks cutting-edge features such as Google Maps and in-car internet. The XJ shares its line of 5.0-liter V-8 engines with the XF. The Supersport tops the range with the supercharged 510-hp V-8 as well as a leather headliner and laser-engraved veneers. It can be purchased only by custom order. The long-wheelbase version adds an extra five inches of legroom and can be had in any trim level. Even with the base engine, the XJ bursts away from stoplights and threads through corners with the agility of a sports car. Much of the credit goes to the relatively light aluminum structure that, Jaguar claims, saves 300 pounds versus conventional steel. But the car has also been tuned in a way that borders on magical, from its precise, almost delicate steering to the perfect ride-and-handling balance achieved by its active dampers.
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