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View Full Version : 2002 BMW 745i owner drives a new XJ

04-22-2004, 08:14 PM
From the Jag talk borad:

I picked her up this afternoon. She wore red. No nav system - base car plus
heated seats & steering wheel.

It was warm here today - about 85 degrees F. After a couple of blocks, I
realized that not only was the air coming out of the vents not cool, but the
lower I set the setpoint the hotter the air became. Not a good start...

Back to the dealership we went. After checking that the problem was indeed not
"operator error", they set me up with her sister in a cool business-like
charcoal grey. Interior was light grey seats & lower dash, charcoal upper dash
& carpets. Same equipment - probably the standard issue XJ demo car. My
enthusiasm somewhat the worse for wear, I made the following observations on the
way home:

1) Interior materials do not seem as rich as in my 7er. The leather is smooth
& vinyl-like stiff in comparison to the supple hides on the 7er's seats. The
dash & other textured plastic portions were less imitative of leather than in
the 7. The wood was the expected Jag-gorgeous, though. I also have to admit
that I don't care for light grey interiors.

2) My 745i has the high-end seat option - adjustable in countless ways,
ventilated, cooled, heated, massage, etc... The only thing I really use is the
heated seats. Anyway, I found in the Jag that even after the A/C cooled things
off, the part of me in contact with the seats stayed warm & damp. I think maybe
the difference is the lack of the 7er's vent holes in the leather (even though I
never turn on the cooling blower). The 7er's adjustment to lengthen the seat to
support your entire thigh was also missed. Best I can tell, Jag doesn't offer
any options to upgrade the seats. The power-adjustable pedals are cool (the 7er
doesn't do that trick).

3) As in my supervised test drive, I could not detect any performance
difference between the Jag & the 7er. That is to say, the Grey Lady runs great.

4) The center consol storage compartment is much smaller than in the 7er, but
there's a cavernous glove box to make up (the 7er's glove box will just about
hold a pair of gloves). The Jag also neatly conceals the cup holders when not
in use - the arm rest cover of the console compartment telescopes forward to
cover them or back to uncover them. This works much better than the system in
the 3er, where it is hinged to swing & expose the second cup holder, but doing
so precludes using the arm rest. It also looks better than the 7er, which has
them constantly exposed and rimmed in chrome, with sliding metal covers inside
the rim (although in the 7er they nestle down inside the AC duct to the rear,
and thus cool your drink for you - great if you drink cokes like me, probably
not so hot for coffee).

5) The standard rear park distance control worked great backing into the
garage. Really wish I'd spung for that in the 7er (where it is a pricey option)
- can't see squat out the back of that thing, but the layout of my driveway
makes it a lot easier to back into the garage than back out.

Went to dinner at an upscale local steakhouse downtown. My wife decided to let
our 5 year old daughter tag along. She comes out into the garage and as she
climbs into the back seat exclaims - "Ooh, a new car! Ooh, it's a Jaguar!".
She's getting pretty good at recognizing the logos on luxury marques. She asked
if she could touch the leaper:) She's quite enthusiastic about our little day
trip planned for tomorrow. She's never really cottoned to the 7er - still after
two years tells me constantly how she liked my previous
silver-with-black-interior 3er better. Anyway, I guess the Jag seems to be a
hit with the kindergarten chicks:)

I was originally going to a restaurant on a river barge, where the valets
reserve a section of parking right by the valet stand for the cars they find
most impressive. The 7er routinely gets this VIP treatment, and I wanted to see
if the Jag would, too. However, the river is near flood stage so they closed
temporarily & moved our reservation to their sister restaurant downtown.
Unfortunately the downtown branch lacks that sort of preferred parking facility,
and my charming (when she's not throwing a tantrum) little princess stole the
show with the valets (who frequently launch into spontaneous gushes over the
7er). So, I'd call the valet schmooze test inconclusive.

My wife likes the car. She also likes the lease deal the local dealer is
offering - $799 per month. Probably not enough miles for me, and who knows if
it will be available in 11 months. They did have several 2004 demo cars on sale
for $10,000 off. They also had a 2003 S-Type R laying about, still sporting a
new car sticker, marked $12,000 off. I don't know if that means anything
nationally - this is a real German-car town - Beemers & Audis & Mercs are about
as common as Toyotas (seems every third car is a 3er). Recently found out
there's a Maserati dealer just about a mile from my house - never ever seen a
single Maser on the road in this town, and I've been in the area since '91.
Wonder what kind of deals they've got cooking...

Back home, walking around the Grey Lady in the garage, I was struck by her very
Jagness. What I mean is that in magazine pictures the 2004 XJ sometimes looks
like an overgrown X-Type, and frankly the X-Type looks like your generic
3er-wannabee near-luxury compact sedan plus a few Jaglike details. Up close in
person, though, the 2004 XJ looks very classic XJ, only bigger - especially the
rear deck/trunk & looking straight at the front end. Really a classically
beautiful car.

They are actually going to let me keep her until on my way home from work Monday
night. Next installment tomorrow night, after our Sunday afternoon outing...

04-22-2004, 08:15 PM
From the Jag talk board

First thing this morning I went out to have a good look at her in the light of a
new day. Later in the day, while my wife took her turn at the wheel, I looked
closely at the interior, squeezed the Charmin, etc... I think I'll retract my
earlier statement "The dash & other textured plastic portions were less
imitative of leather than in the 7.". I think my initial reaction was a
combination of testiness over the problem with the red car, my lack of
enthusiasm for light-grey seats in a two-tone interior (upper dash & carpets in
charcoal, seats & headliner in light grey) and the fact that the Grey Lady needs
a good interior detailing (as you will recall she was pressed into service on
short notice - both real & imitation leather surfaces have dirt in the grain,

Installing the child seats, I find that LATCH setup is easier to use than in the
7er. The anchors are down in the crack between seat & back just far enough to
hide them, versus about an inch deep in the 7er. Installing the kiddie seats
(and getting them out again tonight) was a snap. Good show, Jaguar!

The kids both loved the car - couldn't get them out of it. My wife likes it,
too, and despite her wariness about lack of AWD she said that if we could get
out of the 7er lease early she'd be ready to take an XJ. Of course, she
considers the odd control setup of the 7er to render it usuable to normal people
(as opposed to technonerds like her beloved husband).

The car really accelerates so smoothly it seems effortless. Again, it isn't
subjectively any faster or slower than the 7er, but it just feels different.
Remember how in the old Bond films 007 never seems to rush or break a sweat, but
always does everthing perfectly...

So we took a nice drive all around, spend so time in a park, had dinner & came
home. The Grey Lady was perfectly behaved throughout. A few additional
obsevations -

1) After spending some time fiddling with the seat/wheel/pedal adjustments, I
got pretty comfortable. It could still use the 7er's adjustable thigh support,
4-way lumbar adjustment (the Jag adjusts in/out but not up/down) and
perferorated leather. However, it is much better than I thought last night, and
more than acceptable - in fact probably a solid #2 in my all time experience
(the 7er just spoiled me). So, I would not give the car a thumbs-down over it.

2) When you have the central console cushion telescoped back to expose the cup
holders, it is really too far back to get your elbow on it. My wife noted &
complained about this separately (I had kept my mouth shut about it until she
brought it up). Similarly, the cupholder itself is farther back than I'd
consider optimal. All this might be addressable by moving the seat, wheel &
pdeals rearward by an equal amount. However, right now they are just right for
my left leg to stretch out & rest my foot on the deadpedal, and of course moving
things back would eat into rear leg room (admittedly a small concern given my
small rear passengers). None of this is a showstopper, though.

Despite the above, I actually like the car a lot and have seen nothing so far
that would deter me from owning one. An analogy that occured to me is that the
7er is like a luxury hotel with expensive & tasteful modern decor, and the Jag
is like a luxury hotel with traditional decor (the Ritz-Carlton San Fransisco
comes to mind - one of my all time favorites). I happen to prefer the
traditional hotel, but would not consider myself oppressed to be housed in the
modern one. So, both cars are very good in their separate styles, and the
choice is largely a matter of taste (and $ - Jag apparently being much more
willing to deal that I've heard of BMW being).

Next installment - the Grey Lady visits the office...

04-22-2004, 08:16 PM
(from the Jag talk board)

This part was written yesterday, before I'd taken the Grey Lady home...

The XJ feels more intimate to drive. The cockpit is more "cozy" and centered on
the driver. With my seat/wheel/pedal setup as previously described, I can touch
all the controls with my index finger without leaning forward. The 7er is more
spacious, which is not necessarily a good thing. The XJ feels more sporty as
you climb in and drive around, the 7er more luxo-bargish. Not that the 7er
drives that way, but its ambience belies its performance. After a mere two
days, I find myself increasingly feeling at home in the XJ - it has more soul.
That's in a charcoal grey car with a grey two-tone interior - I can only imagine
how it will feel in the warmer BRG w/ Sand car that I'd actually want to lease.
The ergonomics of the cup holder location and its interaction with the center
console arm rest remain less than perfect, but the rest of the ergonomics are
perfect (and cars didn't even have cup holders when I was a kid).

It is cloudy, cool & slightly wet for the Grey Lady's work day. Just sprinkles,
though. The rain-sensing wipers seem to work well. The ones in the 7er have
always seemed just a trifle under-sensitive.

There is an odd little storage cubbly in the lower left of the dash. Its
openning is roughly square and about 3" x 3". It is maybe 4-5" deep, and has a
soft lining. I'm not sure what you could use it for - not deep enough for an
umbrella or maps, or probably even sunglasses (beside, the car has an overhead
sunglasses compartment - a nice little detail the Japanese usual include but
neither the 7er or any other Bimmer I can recall has). It would probably do for
a tin of Altoids:)

I'm not all that crazy about the heated steering wheel. At first it bothered
me, as I use the heated seats in even warm weather to comfort my lower back (a
tad stiff from being thrown out by a bad lift about a decade ago). I thought it
would bother me to have the wheel get hot. I got used to it, but wouldn't pay
extra to get it. I don't like the feel of the wood portions of the steering
wheel as much as the all-leather on the 7er. Jag offers an all-leather sport
steering wheel as an accessory, but maybe only in black.

The rest was written today...

Driving in this morning in the 7er, my thoughts were on the driving experience
vs the XJ. As noted above, the cockpit in the XJ seems much more sporty &
driver oriented. The driving seat in the 7er is more comfortable - in addition
to the seat itself with all its adjustments, the arm rests on both the door and
console are very long and well cushioned with genuine leather, and with your
right forearm resting on the console cushion you hand fall right to the
cupholder (or with a very slight shift of your elbow rearward, the infamous
iDrive puck). Again, the arm rests and cup holders in the XJ are far less user
friendly. The 7er gets the nod for creature comfort.

OK, so the 7er's seating position is the one I'd want to watch TV from, but it
isn't too engaging to drive from. The dash design on the 7er is not
driver-oriented at all, and critics have compared it (somewhat unfairly, IMO) to
a 70's vintage Buick. I found that in a mere 2 days I got used the conventional
and well laid out driving controls layout in the XJ, and found myself slightly
disoriented by the 7er's odd transmission control stalk, etc... One really big
probalem with the 7er stalk is it is really touchy to get into neutral you bump
it 1/2 way toward whichever direction it is not engaged (drive or reverse) and
it slides into neutral, but a hair too far (there is no detent) and you just
switch from drive to reverse or vice versa. Really a pain entering a car
wash... So, on driving ergonomics (as opposed to seating comfort & luxury
ergonomics), the XJ is the clear winner.

OK, now comes driving dynamics. On paper, the 7er is slightly faster. The one
comparative spec every professional test in the US offers up (if they offer any
at all) is 0-60mph time. If I recall correctly, a difference of less than 0.3
seconds is considered insignificant even if achieved in a comparison test
because of assorted uncontrollable variables. BMW claims 5.9 seconds for the
745i, but magazine reviews seldom achieve that (I never saw anybody beat it).
Jaguar claims 6.3 seconds, and unfortunately the magazines all prefer to test
the XJR so all we can do is take their word for it. However, in my
uninstrumented and purely subjective opinion, I can't tell any difference
between the quickness of these two cars. The same applies to handling & "road
feel". I don't review cars for a living, though:)

There is a difference in..."spirit"? Perversely, it is just the opposite of the
cockpit driving ergonomics described above. The Jag is very civilized. Stomp
on the gas from cruising speed and the acceleration comes on like the motor is
electric and the throttle was a rheostat - smooth and instantaneous. The
exhaust note changes, but not much. Do the same in the 745i and you get a
different response (probably because of different programming in the electronic
throttle) - nothing happens for a heartbeat - not enough to call "hesitation" -
then it leaps forward with a perceptible jump, accompanied by a fairly loud V8
roar. The 745i doesn't really seem to move the speedo needle upward any faster,
though. It just seems more sporty as it it does so. Picture it this way - you
are on the interstate on a road trip with your wife, and she's fallen asleep in
the passenger seat. You decide to play. In the 7er you'll probably wake her up
immediately and be subjected to "instruction". In the Jag, as long as you keep
the lane changes smooth (and don't attract any of those Crown Vic's with the
flashing Christmas lights so artfully hidden in the grill), you can probably get
away with it. Odd, though... the cockpit of the Jag seems a match for the
muscle car road manners of the 7er, and the Grey Poupon manners of the Jag would
seem a better match for the Bimmer's interior. Again, I can't really tell any
difference in what actually happens to the car - the difference is all in style.

The brakes seem a tad more "grabby" in the 7er, as well. After driving the Jag
for a couple of days, I had to recalibrate my foot to get a smooth decel in the

As a side note, although not available in the base XJ at all (just the Vanden
Plas), at the dealer I got to test Jag's system for adjustable thigh support.
It is supperior to BMW's. In the 7er, the front 5-6" or so of the cushion
slides forward to lengthen the cushion under your thigh. This exposes a gap,
which collects dust & lint and frankly looks funny. In the Jag, the entire
lower cushion slides forward, maintaining a smooth seat its entire length.

Finally, let's talk price - there is a significant difference:

2004 Jaguar XJ 2002 BMW 745i (prices as per 2004)
Base MSRP: $60,495 $69,995
Price as tested: $61,845 $74,295
Exterior color: Slate Toledo Blue
Interior color: Dove Dark Beige/Beige III
Options: Heated Seats Luxury Seating Package
Heated Steering Wheel Premium Sound Package
on one but
not the other: Park Distance Control Nav system
Integrated cell phone
6-disk CD Changer

If I order an XJ in the end, with respect to the configuration of the Grey Lady
I'll drop the heated steering wheel but add the Nav system & CD changer.
According to my salesman, because the sound system upgrade (which includes the
CD changer) is mostly residualizable, the lease payment will be roughly the same
whether I get the sound system upgrade from the factory or the CD changer added
to the base sound system as a dealer-installed accessory.

The Jaguar dealer-installed accessory phone right now is over $2000, and I just
could not justify that. That would incline me to cars that will be offering
hands-free connectivity via "Bluetooth" to any Bluetooth-capable phone you
happen to own, which as of this writing does not include any Jaguar model (some
of the other cars on my list include it). However, there will be a new
as-yet-unannounced phone for the 2005 model year (during wjich I'll be doing
whatever I do).

OK, so with heated seats, Nav & sound system upgrade the 2004 XJ8 in BRG/Sand
stickers for $65,345. Now let's tweek the 745i config - 2004 745i in
black/black (dark high gloss wood trim), dropping the "Luxury Seating" in favor
of separate "Comfort Seat" & "Heated Seat" options (essentially losing the
seldom-used cooling fans & massage feature) but adding park distance control, we
arrive at a sticker price of $74,345. That makes the Bimmer exactly $9000 more
expensive. At the same price, I'd have some serious thinking to do to choose
between these cars. At a $9000 difference, I have to scratch the 745i off my
shopping list the same way that I wrote of the M-B S-Class back when I chose my
current Bimmer (the old XJ8 wasn't a contender and the old XJR was roughly price
parity with the 745i).

Add to that the fact that Jag deals seem to abound. They had a wad of 2004 XJ
demos like the Grey Lady with milage in the 3k-6k range on offer for about
$10,000 off sticker. THey had two 2003 S-Type R demo's (about the same milage)
in stock for over $12,000 off sticker. Frankly, if I didn't have 11 months left
on my BMW lease, for a hair under $50,000 I may have come home in an S-Type R
last night and just lived with the colors they came in (one was pretty much the
Grey Lady's color scheme, the other White/Sand). You just don't see that sort
of deals on BMW lots. When the time comes, if that sort of thing is still going
on at the Jaguar dealer it will be hard to turn down. However, I'll post
separately about my other choices...

So, was this excercise worth it (beside just being fun, that is)? Yes! For me
and for Jaguar, I think, regardless of what I'm driving this time next year.

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