2006 XJ New Car Test Drive
The Jaguar XJ remains one of the best luxury cars you can buy. It also appears to be one of the best values, at least in terms of price paid for the luxury it exudes. When a Jaguar XJ rolls up, it makes a statement of true luxury.
The XJ is a truly beautiful luxury car, with lithe, elegant lines that ooze class and sex appeal, and its luxurious cabin is swathed in rich leathers and warm woods. Underway, it's quiet, smooth, stately, and powerful and it handles quite well. The XJ is far easier to operate than the German cars, namely the BMW 7 Series, the Audi A8, and the Mercedes S-Class, all of which have become so burdened with technology that can serve to annoy and frustrate drivers unfamiliar with their complex controls. Plus, the Jaguars cost less than the comparable German models. The 2006 Lexus LS 430 offers many of these assets, though it isn't as easy to operate as the Jag nor does it make a statement of true luxury and class the way the British marque does. That bit about true luxury applies to the Cadillac STS as well; the Cadillac just doesn't have the snob appeal of the Jaguar. In short, nothing says true luxury quite like a Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas. Roll up to a five-star hotel in one of these and you'll be treated like royalty.
The XJs come in regular and long-wheelbase versions. The long-wheelbase models offer enough rear-seat room to recline and watch a movie while having lunch on a flip-down wooden tray, all coddled in rich wood and leather. Though stretched five inches, these longer and roomier Jaguars are for practical purposes just as quick, just as nimble and just as fuel-efficient as the standard-length versions.
Though easy to operate, the XJ models are stuffed with sophisticated technology, but it's tucked out of the way so the driver benefits from the technology without being annoyed or distracted by it.
The Jaguar XJ8 was launched as an all-new model for 2003, along with the high-performance XJR. Both were greatly improved, offering superior ride and handling to their predecessors thanks to their rigid lightweight aluminum structure and computer-controlled double-wishbone suspensions. The long-wheelbase XJ8 L, Vanden Plas and Super V8 followed. For 2006, a new limited-edition Super V8 Portfolio, a super-luxurious model, joins the line.
All of the 2006 XJ models benefit from a number of upgrades, including more powerful engines, a new braking system, laminated glass for improved noise isolation, a driver-selectable automatic speed limiter, and a new tire pressure monitoring system. The chrome mesh grilles from the R models are now seen on all models for 2006, while new smoked-lens side markers and the removal of body-side and front/rear window moldings give all models a fresh appearance. A new navigation system comes standard on XJR and Vanden Plas models, and an electric rear sunblind is fitted to every XJ8 L.
The Jaguar XJ series comprises six models, all built on a platform that makes extensive use of lightweight but strong aluminum architecture. Three XJs are powered by 4.2-liter V8 engines. The XJR and Super V8 models are supercharged. The XJ8 and XJR are built on the standard 119.4-inch wheelbase. The XJ8L, Vanden Plas, and Super 8 are built on a longer 124.4-inch wheelbase that stretches the overall length of the vehicle from the standard 200.4 inches to 205.3 inches.
The XJ8 ($61,830) comes standard with a long list of luxury features. Its 4.2-liter V8 is uprated to 300 horsepower (up from 294 horsepower) and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The self-leveling air suspension, the CATS adaptive suspension damping, dynamic stability control, xenon headlamps, power-adjustable foot pedals, an electronic parking brake, and reverse park assist all come standard. Also standard are leather upholstery, power 12-way adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, and an eight-speaker stereo and CD player.
The XJ8 L ($64,330) is equipped like the XJ8 but offers more room in its back seat as well as an electric rear sunblind.
The Vanden Plas ($74,330) is the quintessential luxury Jaguar, offering all the equipment of the XJ8 L but richly trimmed with a twin-stitched leather dashboard, burl walnut trim with Peruvian boxwood inlays, lambs wool rugs, 16-way power front seats, three-stage heated front and rear seats and heated steering wheel, rear fold-down picnic trays, and a 320-watt Alpine premium audio system.
The XJR ($79,930) is a high-performance model built on the standard wheelbase and powered by a supercharged version of the V8 engine that's been upgraded to pump out 400 horsepower (up from 390). The XJR also gets a firmer suspension and larger Brembo brakes, bigger wheels and tires, R Performance 16-way driver/12-way passenger sports seats with perforated leather inserts, R Performance leather and chrome shift knob, radar-based adaptive cruise control, a 320-watt Alpine Premium audio system, and newly designed 19-inch Sabre alloys wheels with Z-rated performance tires.
The Super V8 ($91,330) has the same supercharged powertrain as the XJR but puts it on the longer wheelbase and adds four-zone climate control, a DVD-based touch-screen navigation system, DVD-based rear multimedia entertainment system with two display screens, an electrically adjustable rear seat, electric and manual rear door sunblinds, Bluetooth wireless technology, Custom alloy wheels with Z-rated tires, and front parking sensors. The CATS adaptive damping system is tuned for a Touring ride.
The Super V8 Portfolio ($115,330) begins a new line of super-luxurious Jaguars. Portfolio rides on the long wheelbase and is powered by the 400-horsepower supercharged V8. Exterior revisions include aluminum side vents, larger chrome-finished tailpipes, polished 20-inch Callisto alloy wheels and special Black Cherry or Winter Gold paint. Inside is special soft-grain leather upholstery with seat piping, satin-finished black walnut wood trim, suede-like headliner, pillars and sunvisors, aluminum J-gate surround, individual power-adjusted rear seats separated by a center console, and a 400-watt 15-speaker Alpine surround-sound stereo system.
Options for the XJ8 and XJ8 L include a heated seat package ($950); a Cold Climate Package ($1,250) with front and rear heated seats and a heated wood and leather steering wheel. Options for Vanden Plas and XJR models include a Warm Climate Package ($1,350) with four-zone air conditioning and manual rear side sunblinds and a Multimedia Package ($2,950). Other options include special wheels, Front Park Control ($250), Bluetooth wireless connectivity ($500), and Sirius Satellite Radio ($450).
Safety features that come standard on all models include frontal, side-impact and side-curtain airbags, antilock brakes and electronic stability control.