Two Very Good Reasons to Drive to Niagara on a Sunday
Sometimes, a not-so ordinary car can turn your itinerary into a different kind of experience. This was the case when we wanted to meet a friend, whom we hadn’t seen for 28 years, on the American side of the Niagara Falls. Our friend did not have time to apply for a Canadian visa. So my wife and I wanted to see her on the US side of the river. This was a very good and pleasant reason to go there.
The second reason was that I had a Jaguar XJ-L as test vehicle at that week. A super car belonging to the elite class of executive sedans.
Since this US trip was in short notice, I need a permission to visit the USA. Thanks to great support of Mr. Richard Pickering of BHG Media Fleet, which manages the media cars of Jaguar and Land Rover, it took me less than two hours to get a border letter in order to take the Jaguar XJ-L to south of the border.
On our way to Niagara Falls on QEW, it was a pure driving pleasure to unleash the enormous power reserves of the allmighty engine. I was smiling after each successful and instantaneous pass. Even at speeds of 120 km/h, the cabin was dead silent. Except the addictive sound of the Jaguar XJ-L superchargers during acceleration.
The History of the Immediate Past
In early 2008, Tata Motors of India acquired from Ford two legendary, British brands, Jaguar and Land Rover. By then nobody was aware of the financial crisis on the horizon. For a company claiming to produce the cheapest car of the world, the Tata Nano, acquiring those premium brands was a major risk.
The TATA Group obtained external financing of 3 billion dollars to finance this 1,5 billion pound deal. Nevertheless, this amount was only the half of what Ford had paid for Jaguar and Land Rover about two decades ago. The company with the blue-oval logo invested significant amounts in those brands. Yet, it could not avoid annual losses of up to 600 million dollars.
After nearly five years which includes a big global financial crisis we can say that each party was a winner in this deal. The Tata Group now ownes two prestigious brands and has been gathering invaluble experience in advanced engineering and manufacturing, as well as high-level customer service. Ford, on the other hand, got rid of this burden and was able to focus on Ford, its core brand. Furthermore, Jaguar and Land Rover are now two valuble customers for Ford. Finally, Jaguar achieved a healthy and balanced growth accross the five continents and the Tata Group will invest about 12 billion dollars for Jaguar and Land Rover in the next five years.
About the Jaguar XJ-L
A Jaguar XJ-L is the nirvana of the automobile experience. No doubt about it. I felt a bit sad when returning the Jaguar XJ-L to the JLR after about 600 kilometers in Ontario and New York.
The XJ series was introduced in 1968 and the current model, the 4th generation came to the market in 2010 as the 2011 model year.
Some conservative circles labelled the current design bad and even as infidelity. However, the current model proved its success. Our test vehicle, the Jaguar XJ-L, (long for L), which is 12.5 centimeters longer than the standard model is the top of the line. It is almost a tradition to offer a version with longer-than-standard wheelbase in the category of the super luxury sedan, I mean, Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series and the Audi A-8. The extra-leg room in the rear is good for CEO’S, princes and princesses and your VIP guests. The big cat offers a weight advantage of about 300 kilograms-thanks to its aluminium chassis and body- in comparison to the Mercedes S.
Its coupé-like design makes the Jaguar XJ-L a direct competitor to Porsche Panamera and Maserati Quattroporte, as well as sporty super Germans; Mercedes CLS, Audi A7 and BMW Grand Coupé. This elite club has some other non-German members, like the Lexus LS.
When you sit behind the steering wheel of the Jaguar XJ-L, you are surrounded by a harmonious combination of wood, leather and carbon fiber. The ice-blue interior lighting creates a unique and luxurious atmosphere inside. You have to live it, to enjoy it.
The dark, black instrument panel turns to an opto-electronic instrument cluster with the roaring of the magnificient engine. The 614K thin-film transistor of the Jaguar XJ-L enables this magical change.
The 5-liter 510 HP engine of the Jaguar XJ-L delivers a maximum torque of 624 Newton Meters “sourced” from 8 cylinders in V-form. This is only the beginning. The heartbeat of the Jag will boost your adrenaline: Once you hit the road and accelerate the twin turbo compressor provides a power that rises you into the sky. No surprise that the 0-to-100 acceleration is under five seconds. Syntetic engine oil of grade 5 W 20 enables oil change intervals to 24 thousand kilometers.
You can shift the six-speed auto-transmission via a push & turn button in the centre console. If it is too-far away, shift –paddles behind the steering wheel are at your disposal. Rear-wheel drive is the logical option in this category and the Jag has it.
The two “unfortunate” passengers in the rear, who are only driven, have foldable tables for their laptops and remote controllers for the infotainment system.
The front seats of the Jaguar XJ-L are not only cooled-and heated, but also have a massage-function. That’s probably too much and will anger the owner of the rear seat, who is probably the boss. Who knows if there is a secret deal between the boss and the driver to exchange “jobs”. I expect to see a big cat driven by the boss with the official driver transported in the rear.
No matter at which corner of the Jaguar XJ-L you sit, you cannot escape the magnificent sound of the 1200 Watt Bowers & Wilkin’s audio system.
The only thing not up-to-the standard of this great car is the navigation system. Its response time is too long and the engineers must have noted in their lists to touch upon it, when the time for a model face-lift is due.
Niagara Falls, NY
After a not-so long waiting at the Rainbow Bridge, we met our friend and had a chance to see the falls from the American side. The officer just looked at the car and did not ask for the border letter.
The view from the observation tower was great, although it was not as impressive as standing beside the magnificent Horseshoe Falls. The Americans built an observation tower extending towards the Niagara River and enabling a better view of the Canadian side.
We closed the day with a pleasant and delicious dinner at TGI’s Friday. Among other “worth-tasting” options, my favourite dish is boneless chicken wings with blue cheese dipping. This is not a separate item on the menu but is “hidden” in one of sampler plates.
Saying “goodbye” to our friend was the sad part of this beautiful day. While she was returning to Rochester, NY, we hit the road to Mississauga. This time, I took the somewhat bumpy and twisted Niagara Parkway between Niagara Falls and Niagara on-the Lake. The high-tech aluminium chassis, complemented by air suspension and the extra long wheelbase orchestrate a smooth driving on somewhat rough surfaces “less good” than a highway.
The MSRP for the Jaguar XJ-L Supercharged in Canada is 114,000 $. This price is 6 thousand more expensive than the standard XJ. Provided that you can afford to budget a six-figure amount for an automobile, you have to decide yourself that the Jaguar deserves so much money. Looking at the sales numbers and the pace of increase you can conclude that some people in different corners of the world at least think seriously about buying a fat-cat.
Thanks to Jaguar Land Rover Canada and BHG Media Fleet for providing the Jaguar XJ-L for this trip.
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