Your rich uncle died. That new twitch in your face led to a multi-million dollar malpractice payout. Your ex-husband had the misfortune of getting caught with his mistress. You own stock in ExxonMobil. Regardless of how you got there, you’re in the top echelon of society now, and, coincidentally, Jaguar has an upper-crust automobile befitting your new lifestyle.Well, they did, that is.
See, all 145 copies of the 2006 Jaguar XJ Super V8 Portfolio are spoken for, despite the $115,995 sticker price. That’s a lot more than you’ll spend on the XJ Super V8, a model that shares the same dimensions and an identical powertrain with the Portfolio, but lacks a fancy headliner, an extra 80 watts of sound, and a host of other upgrades that place the Portfolio at the top of the XJ hill. Ah, but the Super V8 doesn’t come in Black Cherry and lacks the Portfolio badge, each of which should soon be worth their weight in gold within uptown’s gated communities. It’s a matter of keeping pace with the Joneses, so if you opt for anything less than a Portfolio, be prepared for whispers about your “unfortunate financial difficulty.”
On the other hand, if money isn’t an object and more powerful competitors from the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Audi aren’t to your liking, make sure to get you and your checkbook down to the nearest Jag dealer, because these things go like hotcakes. Big, expensive, limited-production hotcakes.
Making its debut for the 2006 model year is the Jaguar XJ Super V8 Portfolio, which, as its name suggests, is based on last year’s new XJ Super V8. Both are powered by a supercharged 4.2-liter V8 featuring dual overhead cams, 32-valves, and all-aluminum construction. Total output has been pumped up to 400 horsepower at 6,100 rpm (up from 390), torque registers 413 lb.-ft. at 3,500 rpm, and harmful emissions have been slightly reduced. A six-speed automatic transmission puts power to the rear wheels, with 0-60 mph acceleration runs taking five seconds, according to Jaguar. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. The EPA rates fuel economy for supercharged XJ models at 17 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway, and 19 mpg in mixed driving.
Like the Super V8, the 2006 Jaguar XJ Super V8 Portfolio rides on independent front and rear aluminum suspension systems, with double wishbones and a 29-mm stabilizer bolted in up front and a 16-mm stabilizer bar out back. Also included are self-leveling air springs; Jaguar’s Enhanced Computer Active Technology (eCATS) that provides the Portfolio’s touring-tuned ride; and traction and stability control systems. Stopping power comes from 355-mm front ventilated discs, 326-mm rear ventilated discs, and cast iron/aluminum calipers designed to be more effective than the aluminum calipers they replace. Those brakes reside behind 20-inch alloy wheels (the largest standard wheels on an XJ) wrapped in P255/35R20 Dunlop SP Sport tires.
In addition to the hardware, buyers get a bevy of standard features in return for the 2006 Jaguar XJ Super V8 Portfolio’s $115,995 sticker price (including a $665 destination charge). Outside are functional aluminum vents built into the front fenders, large diameter chrome exhaust tips, a decklid-mounted Portfolio badge, and a rich Black Cherry finish (Winter Gold is also offered, though this color is not exclusive to the Portfolio). Inside are Conker leather seats, which are supposedly softer and more luxurious than the leather on other XJs, but we didn’t notice the difference. Suede fabric covers the headliner, visors, and pillars; and black walnut wood trim coats the dashboard, door panels, center console, and rear fold-down trays and cupholders. Also unique to the Portfolio are individually powered and heated rear seats with a center console, as opposed to the bench seat and fold-down center armrest found on lesser models, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel rather than the leather and wood wheel fitted to other XJs. And rounding out the list of bonuses is a 15-speaker Alpine surround sound system offering 400 watts of power and a subwoofer. Collectively, these features represent a $24,000 gap between the Portfolio and the $91,995 2006 Jaguar XJ Super V8. All new XJ models come without body side moldings for a cleaner appearance, laminated glass with an extra layer for better sound insulation, and a chrome mesh grille insert.
The topic of value is moot when the car in question is about $116,000 and only 145 copies will be available for U.S. sale; squeezing the most out of a buck probably ain’t a real big issue. Even so, if we had $90,000 to $120,000 to spend on a mobile office, we’d skip the Portfolio for a comparably-equipped and equally-powered Super V8, with the savings used for some good memory building in Vegas.
Our experience with the Portfolio took place in Las Vegas, where Jaguar had invited us to drive a trio of XJ models. Though the focus of our trip to Sin City was the Portfolio model, company representatives also set aside time for us to drive the 2006 XJ Super V8 and the 2006 XJ Vanden Plas. While the Vanden Plas provided a smooth ride, its 300 horsepower (up from 294 for ’05) obviously paled in comparison to the 400 ponies from the Super V8 and Portfolio. Our drive route took us out of Vegas and into some beautifully remote areas of Nevada. The long straight-aways and sweeping curves along barren roads were perfect for high-speed runs and accelerated cornering. After a jet-like launch, our Super V8 tester quickly reached the triple-digits, hunkered down, and its speedometer continued to climb steadily, to the point that this supercharged sedan had more power than we or the road could safely accommodate. Yet even at such velocity, the ride was tight and controlled, the steering responsive, and the ride comfortable. The same was true for such runs in the Portfolio, though the 20-inch rubber felt less in tune with the road at higher speeds, which was, to say the least, a bit disconcerting. Both the Super V8 and Portfolio felt secure in the corners, but like the 2005 Jaguar XJ Super V8 we previously tested, this long wheelbase, 4,065-lb. luxury sedan felt a bit too expansive to be nimble. But, make no mistake, step on this cat’s tail and she’ll scream; stomp on the brakes, and she’ll dig her claws in just as fast.
There’s no denying that the 2006 Jaguar XJ Super V8 Portfolio is a very expensive piece of machinery that goes fast, stops fast, and handles well. However, the real story is inside the car. That Conker leather is soft, but it takes an acute tactile sense to notice any real difference from the hides in other XJs. With 400 watts, the Alpine audio system does a good job of filling the cabin with good sound, while the laminated windows do an outstanding job of keeping unwanted noise out. There’s a bit of rumble from those massive wheels, though it’s not intrusive, and the supercharger whine is a pleasant song to driving enthusiasts.
Remaining on the Portfolio’s short list of unique features are the rear seat console, black walnut wood treatment, and suede trim. Handy audio/DVD controls and inputs are located in the center console, placed behind two cupholders and forward of a deep, lined storage pocket. It’s a comfortable and convenient setup, though not noticeably better than the fold-down armrest and full seat found in the Super V8. And while that walnut trim adds a nice touch, it too-closely resembles 1970’s-era basement paneling. The suede fabric, on the other hand, is the Mackizzle Dadizzle (that’s a good thing).
Test Vehicle: 2006 Jaguar XJ Super V8 Portfolio
Price as Tested: $115,995 (includes a $665 destination charge)
Engine Size and Type: Supercharged 4.2-liter V8
Engine Horsepower: 400 at 6,100 rpm
Engine Torque: 413 at 3,500 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Curb Weight: 4,065 lbs.
EPA Fuel Economy (city/highway): 17/24 mpg
Length: 205.3 inches
Width: 76.5 inches
Wheelbase: 124.4 inches
Height: 57.3 inches
Legroom (front/rear): 43.3/39.3 inches
Headroom (front/rear): 38.4/38.6 inches
Max. Seating Capacity: 5
Max. Cargo Volume: 16.4 cubic feet
Competitors: Competitors include the Audi A8 L W12, BMW 760Li, Maserati Quattroporte, Mercedes-Benz S55 AMG, Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG, and Volkswagen Phaeton W12
Photos courtesy of Jaguar cars North America