By Drew Johnson
Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 @ 11:45 am
 
When you think about vehicles ideally suited for the Nurburgring, cars like the Porsche 911, Dodge Viper ACR and Nissan GT-R typically come to mind - not extended wheelbase four-door luxury sedans like the Jaguar XJL. But that's just what makes Jaguar's new Ring taxi so spectacular.

Just as Jaguar was unveiling its XJL Supersport-based Nurburgring taxi to the world, Leftlane was laying eyes on the car for the first time at Jaguar's Nurburgring test center. And not only were we among the first to see the one-off XJ, we were also lucky enough to be one of its first fares.

But let's start with first impressions. Just sitting in the parking lot this XJ looks intimidating. There is just something about a long-wheelbase luxury sedan done up in matte silver with rear privacy glass that screams "bad ass." And the taxi's red brake calipers don't hurt, either.

Open any of the sedan's four doors and things only get better. It's almost surreal to see an XJ fitted with four Recaro racing seats and a full roll cage. And if those new features aren't enough to convince you of the car's performance potential, there are also two fire extinguishers and airline-style barf bags in the pockets of all four doors.

For our ride 'round the Ring, we were strapped into the Jag's driver's side rear seat. Getting into the rear seats requires a bit of athleticism due to the roll cage (getting out is even trickier), but rear leg room actually isn't that bad. The Recaro buckets are quite comfortable for racing seats and the four-point harnesses really hold you in place.

As we rolled onto the starting line of the Nordschleife, we were still unsure of what to expect from Jaguar's 'Ring taxi. Sure it has a roll cage and a 510 horsepower supercharged engine, but at the end of the day it's still a luxury limo. However, in the hands of our driver, Jaguar communications chief and racing driver extraordinaire Frank Klaas, the XJ quickly proved its merits as a Ring taxi.

Even with four people aboard the XJ Supersport accelerates with sports car-like authority, thanks in large to all that firepower residing underhood. But, as Klass quickly proved, the XJ is no one trick pony.

With a curb weight equal to that of the two-seater Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG, the all aluminum XJL Supersport can handle any twist the Nurburgring can throw at it, even the famed "carousel" corner. The XJ's suspension also does a good job of soaking up the countless dips and bumps sprinkled throughout the Nurburgring's surface, making for a pleasurable taxi ride.

As an added bonus, rear seat passengers are treated to a little more tail-out fun than those seated in the front. Jaguar engineers mounted the rear Recaros farther back than the standard bench to make room for the roll cage, meaning you sit very nearly over the rear axle. As a result, any fishtail action is exaggerated for rear-seat passengers.

Klass' drivings skills made quick work of the 14-mile circuit and it wasn't long before we passed a line of Jaguar R products. Shortly after, we were in front of second group of high-performance Jags, including an XK R-S coupe and convertible.

Rainy conditions prevented Klass from going all out, but we still made it around the Nordschleife in the 10-minute range. We imagine with the right track conditions and fewer passengers Klass could easily knock a minute or more off that time.

Leftlane's bottom line
With its outrageous juxtaposition of pure luxury and all-out performance, the Jaguar Ring tax ieasily ranks as one of our favorite creations in the automotive world. And, to Jaguar's point, it also proves that aluminum construction can add to the sporting nature of any vehicle - even a large luxury saloon.

If you ever get the chance to visit the Nurburgring, we highly recommend hailing Jaguar's latest Ring taxi.