Once the symbol of upper-crust influence, the Jaguar XJ had over the decades declined as steadily as the British Empire. Now the XJ embodies Jaguar’s unexpected renaissance as a lithe and ultra-modern alternative to the German luxury brands. With an aluminum chassis that weighs less than the steel underpinnings of the Mini Cooper, the 4,100- to 4,300-pound Jag—gorgeously rewrought by Ian Callum, the designer of the Aston Martin DB7—is easily the lightest sedan in its class.
Powerful engines, including 470- and 510-horsepower supercharged V8s, make it nearly as quick as vastly higher-priced competitors. In a dash from 0 to 150 mph, the 470-horsepower XJ is a mere second behind the 514-horsepower, $88,475 Mercedes E63 AMG. Its four-wheel-disc brakes can also stop the car at 70 mph in just 159 feet. $73,575.