Sunday

1999 Jaguar XJR review

If any car ever defined classic British luxury, excluding exotics, the Jaguar XJ has to be it. Its style has endured for the long haul, making it instantly recognizable just as the 911 shape is forever linked with Porsche. In response to their German competitors releasing ever more powerful M and AMG models of their sedans, Jaguar made a high performance version of their classic XJ car and added an R at the end of the name. R - for Racing. By slapping a supercharger to their V8 engine, fitting a buttoned down suspension, and larger tires with Pirelli rubber, a new competitor was born.

Likely you associate the Jaguar nameplate with elegance, classiness, comfort, stateliness, PROPERNESS - and you'd be right. But with this car, throw those assumptions out the window. Looking absolutely menacing in black over black, it trumps the body-kit looks of the aforementioned M and AMG competitors and seems to answer the question "What would Darth Vader drive?" Granted, the Jag body does bring with it its compromises in the name of styling. Interior space is more snug than you would expect from a large car, especially in the back. Only put kids or adults you dislike back there for a long haul. You'll only have enough room for luggage for yourself. Pay careful attention to the headroom if you're tall. On the plus side, the beautifully wrapped leather seats fit well and are bolstered enough for the cornering that this car likes to do.

Driving it brings out a Mr. Hyde personality that you wouldn't expect from looking at its stately exterior. Step on the right pedal and the engine shoots the Jag toward the horizon with ferociousness. The transmission goes through the gears with a purpose. If you need to stop, large disc brakes at all four corners are there to answer your call. What's more, disable the traction control, and modulate the throttle correctly to keep the engine from banging the redline and shifting to second, and you can burn the Pirelli's down to the cords in one loooooooooooong burnout. Juvenile, yes, but you can't help but grin ear to ear and laughing while doing it. Again, and again, and again. Watching it from the outside has to be hilarious. It even makes stoplight Grand Prix's more fun. Unless you're racing a knowledgeable eagle-eye who knows what to look for, you'll dispatch opponent after opponent who'll be left trying to figure out what just what the heck happened. Best of all they'll never tell anyone because who wants to admit they got taken by a luxury car? Police radar in your path while you're cookin' along? Fuhgetaboutit. Assuming the officer doesn't think his radar is malfunctioning, you'll be long gone before it's lights and wailer time. Your secret will stay just that. It's more like an American hot rod wrapped in a classic luxurious body. The soundtrack is even correct - V8 roar with just a hint of supercharger whine. Influence from Ford? Maybe, maybe not. Who cares? This car is a monster.

When you decide to grow up the ride is acceptable while still retaining excellent handling for such a big, heavy car. You can always tell what is going on while hustling it down the road. You're surrounded by fine materials; top notch Conolly leather and real wood trim are lavishly applied. If you need to impress clients or present a professional image to the outside world, but secretly crave to lay down more rubber than a top fuel dragster driver, this is your car. No one who doesn't already know would suspect a thing. People will praise your fine taste and commend you on being a connoisseur. You can indulge your own Mr. Hyde automotive side while still looking like Dr. Jekyll to the rest of the world. Of the heavyweight super sedans, this one is the perfect blend of luxury and 'bahn burning speed.

Best of all, depreciation has ravaged the price of these cars down to affordable levels. What was once priced in the $70k's can be had in the low-teens. Do your research though; these are top level luxury cars that require top level feeding and caring. All in all, a screaming deal for a screaming car that costs less than as a Kia. Who says budget transportation has to be boring?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah..thats just it...
I have owned mine for 5 years, and won t hide that I got a few problems (electronic and time chaine tensioner..)...but all in all just pleasure to look at and to drive..as well long-distance rides..as commuting....

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