Sport luxury sedans tend to compromise on both sides of the equation, but the 2007 Jaguar Super V8 serves up ostentatious luxury with some pretty impressive drivability. The Super V8 sits at the top of Jaguar's XJ model lineup, bringing in the extended wheelbase and luxury appointments of the XJ Vanden Plas, plus the 400-horsepower supercharged V-8 engine of the XJR. It's for people who want it all.
With its classic and unique body styling, the Super V8 is unmistakably a Jaguar. Ford's custodianship of the brand didn't interfere with the look of the cars. While the XJ styling has quite a bit of history, the car doesn't look dated. The roofline has a nice rise that makes room for large side-windows, while the rear of the car actually looks good, something car designers from other companies have had difficulty with in recent years. The front stands out the most, however, with its chrome mesh grille set like a jewel between bumper and hood. And we really like the rounded portions coming down the hood to meet the four distinct headlight enclosures.
From behind the wheel, it's the supercharger that stands out. As we stomped the throttle and heard its glorious whine, we were reminded of James Bond's Bentley, with its Villiers supercharger, from the book Casino Royale. The interior is particularly nice, with big, comfortable seats and trim pieces in both wood and leather. The car comes standard with a full round of technology, including a navigation system, Bluetooth phone integration, a very good Alpine audio system, and even rear-seat DVD entertainment.
Test the tech: Executive-class blogging
For our tech test of the Super V8, we made use of the executive-class rear seat by writing a blog about the car while being chauffeured around in it. Editor Kevin Massy drove, enjoying the power afforded by the supercharged 4.2-liter V-8 probably a little too much. Wayne Cunningham had his laptop perched on the picnic table, which folds down from the back of the front seat. It wasn't the most stable setup, especially with Massy hitting the throttle hard when the traffic lights turned green, but when we got on the freeway, things smoothed out a bit.
The rear seat of the Jag has seat-adjustment controls, one that controls the recline angle of the rear seat, and another that moves the front seat back and forth. With the latter button, Cunningham could either maximize his legroom or move the laptop closer for better ergonomics. We also had a Bluetooth cell phone paired with the car; a keypad set into the center armrest lets the rear-seat passenger make calls. For relaxation, the rear-seat passenger can watch movies on the LCD set into the headrest, so long as a DVD has previously been loaded into the player mounted in the trunk.
The ride was a little bumpy, until the chauffer eased off on the acceleration and took the car out of Sport mode, which is activated by a button on the center console. On city streets, typing was more difficult. The streets are a little rough in San Francisco, and you definitely feel it. The many starts and stops from the traffic lights don't help, either. Overall, though, we could get a lot done on a long freeway trip from the backseat.
In the cabin
Whether in the front or the rear seats, we found the interior of the Super V8 extraordinarily luxurious. It was no Rolls-Royce Phantom, but it had a few similar elements. The two-tone leather is a particularly nice touch, with dark brown leather covering the top of the dashboard, something you don't see very often. Jaguar hasn't gone to smart keys yet, although this is one of the more unique keys you will ever see. It's a short rod with some odd protrusions at its end, and fits into a pinhole in the dashboard.
The interface for the car uses a touch screen LCD complemented by quite a few hard buttons. We found it a very functional setup, with nice graphics for the buttons and menus, although we didn't care for the brown color scheme. You can pair and control a Bluetooth phone through the interface, and we were very impressed with the integration. The pairing process requires reading the manual, as you have to enter a character string into the car's keypad to put it in pairing mode, after which you'll need the car's phone security code, also found in the manual. Our Samsung SGH-D807 paired up very easily, automatically reconnecting every time we started up the car, and our phone book was immediately made available on the car's LCD. Call clarity was also very good.