2004 Jaguar XJ
The new, seventh-generation Jaguar XJ range reaffirms the sedan's flagship status. The new XJ comes with two engine choices: the new 294-bhp 4.2-liter V8 (XJ8) or the new supercharged 390-bhp 4.2-liter V8 (XJR). Power is transmitted to the wheels via a six-speed ZF automatic transmission. The new body is manufactured almost entirely from aluminum, making the bodyshell approximately 40% lighter, yet 60% stiffer than its predecessor-the use of rivet-bonded joining technology and a magnesium cross-car beam and seat castings contribute to chassis rigidity. Even though the new model is longer, taller and wider than the previous version, its weight has been reduced by 440 lb.

The new XJ's larger dimensions translate into more headroom, legroom and shoulder room for all occupants. The driver's environment-fascia, seat and controls-has also been ergonomically enhanced. The seat is 16-way adjustable with four-way lumbar support. The electrically adjustable steering column is complemented by the electrically adjustable pedals. JaguarVoice, a voice-activated systems control, is also available. The interior comes in a range of styles, from a traditional burr walnut finish on Classic models to a warm charcoal fascia and gray-stained bird's-eye maple veneer on the sportier versions. New is PianoBlack trim, a highly polished finish reminiscent of a concert grand piano.

An enhanced version of Jaguar's Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS), combined with self-leveling air suspension, is standard on all models, as is Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Alert (ACC), an electronic parking brake and the Adaptive Restraint Technology System (A.R.T.S.).

The all-new 2004 XJ sedans made their debut at the Paris Motor Show this past September and go on sale in the U.S. in late spring of 2003.

Aston Martin DB7 Zagato
At the 2002 Geneva Motor Show, Aston Martin announced its intention to work with Zagato to create a new, limited-edition model: the DB7 Zagato. Based on the current Aston Martin DB7, designer Andrea Zagato and his team have incorporated many of the styling cues inspired by the original DB4GT Zagato to create a classic body design. These cues include the long hood, shortened tail and the famous "double-bubble" roof. In addition, the large, distinctive radiator grille and accentuating rear wheel arches are unmistakably Zagato.

The aluminum body sits on a shortened DB7 Vantage Volante wheelbase, and weighs 132 lb less than the standard car. Other visible exterior differences include the unique 18-in. Zagato-styled wheels with revised offset to give a wider track (8x18 front, 9x18 rear). Uprated, anti-lock, ventilated discs are fitted all a round and are equipped with Pagid RS4-2-1 pads. The front and rear suspension has been developed specifically for enhanced performance and optimum handling.

The DB7 Zagato retains the all-alloy, dohc, 48-valve, 6.0-liter V12 engine and the original manual six-speed close-ratio transmission but with a different differential and a short-shift gear lever.

There will be three standard exterior colors offered: Mercury Grey, Aqua Verde and Zagato Nero. The hand-stitched leather interior is unique in design to the DB7 Zagato and has been trimmed in Dark Chocolate aniline leather.

If there is sufficient interest in the DB7 Zagato, Aston Martin intends putting the car into production from the first quarter of 2003. The aluminum bodies will be made in Italy and the car finished in the U.K. at Bloxham, the home of the Aston Martin DB7 Vantage.

Smart Crossblade
It's mid-morning in central London, the traffic has ground to a halt and, this being England, it's started to rain. Under normal circumstances this would be a source of inconvenience, but in a Smart Crossblade, it's rather more than that. This car has no roof, no doors and no windscreen. When God turns on the tap, you get wet.

By Alistair Weaver, , Patrick Paternie
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