Though previous XJs might have been cars your rich, aging uncle owned, the new version is decidedly young in spirit and should bring a new group of buyers to the badge--those who enjoy the dynamics of driving.

The new Ian Callum-designed XJ still has its share of Jaguar styling cues, but it's bigger in every dimension, making it a true five-passenger luxury sedan. Even with its growth in size, however, it looks ready to leap and drives like a much smaller car. Credit a lightweight all-aluminum chassis and body, built in an entirely new way to ensure high levels and strength and safety. And also credit an air-spring suspension that makes the new XJ both a comfortable cruiser and a serious challenger to twisting back roads.

Two engine choices make it to America, a naturally aspirated 4.2-liter V8, slightly revised from the powerplant found in the Jaguar S-Type 4.2, and the obvious choice for our competition, the supercharged version of the 4.2 found in the XJR. Matched to a suave and sophisticated six-speed ZF automatic transmission, it delivers satisfying pull from its 400 bhp. But what makes this Jaguar XJ different from all those which have come before will be the grins on the faces of driving enthusiasts when they experience its superior ride and handling.

Eight Great Contenders for Car of the Year
Mercedes-Benz E500
Porsche Boxster S
BMW Z4 Roadster
Saab 9-3
Jaguar XJR
New Beetle Convertible
Volvo S60 R
Audi RS6
2003 european car Grand Prix Winner
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