As I was walking out of the hair salon one sunny autumn day feeling cute and sassy, I heard two guys say enthusiastically, “She’s sweet!” Not in the nice personality sense, but as in she’s looking good. Real good.
They were not. They were ogling the seductively sleek, jet black, shiny 2012 XJL Supersport, my latest test drive. I giggled to myself as I looked down at my clutched hands. I held the keys.
And I couldn’t be mad about all the attention this car was garnering. Jaguar’s XJ upper-crust lineage goes back 43 years and includes royalty and heads of state being chauffeured in the luxurious 4-door sedan, of course with the optional armored, bulletproof feature.
Well, I’m not royalty but I came to understand why the XJL Supersport is Jaguar’s crown jewel. It is a beautifully-built piece of machinery, with British pedigree but is now Indian owned. A unique, exotic blend of spiciness and sophistication, Jaguar is clearly steering the opulent XJL towards a new generation.
In the few days that I test drove the XJL, it proved to be a conversation starter. Like the time I walked out of the Whole Foods in Silver Spring carrying an armload of groceries and found a guy was hovering over the car like he was in a showroom contemplating whether to buy it. He peppered me with questions. This happened time and again.
Not a people person? Then this probably isn’t the car for you because the moment you step out of it, you’re elevated to baller status. That’s understandable considering it has a base price of $111,000. When I pulled up at Tuscana West, an uber trendy hot spot on Eye between 13th and 14th streets, the valet insisted on parking the XJL right in front.
So what, besides bragging rights, does a $100k-plus price tag get you? Turns out, quite a lot. Its the priciest sedan in the flagship XJ line, which was launched back in 1968. The all-aluminum Supersport boasts a 510 HP, 5.0 liter monstrous V8 engine, automatic transmission with paddle shifters and 20-inch wheels attached to a long wheelbase. Safety doesn’t take a back seat. The XJL features front, side, and overhead airbags.
But it’s the A-list amenities that make you feel pampered. The panoramic glass roof makes you feel like Cinderella riding in a glass carriage. It even has electric blinds to shield you from the glare of the sun or prying paparazzi.
Tired of all that autograph signing and hand waving? Then, relax on the reclining seats which are equipped with a massager with heat and cooling controls. These lux features also come in handy if you’ve been out on the links playing a fierce round of golf.
And of course there’s the padded footrest to lay those tired, aching feet. If being engulfed by the elegance of dark oak wood and plush leather aren’t enough to further enhance the experience, you can turn on the Phosphor blue mood lighting that illuminates the cabin.
There is also a rear-seat entertainment system with dual 8-inch LCD screens with remote controls or if you have work to catch up on, you can use the fold-down tray tables for your laptop.
After checking out all that splendor, it was hard sliding back into the driver’s seat because this sedan is so spacious. But for my male passenger who stands 6’5, and wants everything super sized, he found the Supersport to be a perfect fit.
Yes, the Supersport has nice feminine touches, like the heated steering wheel for those cold winter mornings. But this car feels masculine--starting with the over-the top car key that’s almost the size of a smart phone. And, there was an instance when an XJL admirer had the nerve to ask if I were driving my father’s car.
Ok, I could have put him in his place about making sexist assumptions. But I could see what he meant. I did feel like I was driving my daddy’s ride. The XJL gives you the best of both worlds - the body of a sedan but the heart and soul of a sports car. And because of the roominess, this little limo was an even better ride from the back seat.
Now if only Jaguar could toss in a chauffeur, then fairy tales would come true.
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