Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor
The 40-something real estate mogul on TV is slowly ticking off his rise to the top between swipes at his slicked-back hair. First came a bigger house, then a vacation home, followed by a Rolex and a closet full of Armani suits. He mentions his corner office almost in passing before leaning back in his chair and bursting into a huge smile.
"Then I bought the car I had always wanted," he says. "A big Jaguar sedan. The biggest and most expensive one on the lot. I had officially arrived."
Today that Jaguar would be the 2006 Super V8 Portfolio. Based on the long-wheelbase Super V8 sedan, the rear-wheel-drive Super V8 Portfolio adds unique exterior styling cues, exclusive colors and a fully loaded interior covered in premium leathers and suede to create one of the most luxurious Jaguars ever built. Its $115,995 sticker price also makes it the most expensive Jaguar ever, putting it in the same league as the 12-cylinder flagships from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
If there was ever a Jaguar sedan worth aspiring to, this is it.
Revised for 2006 The Super V8 Portfolio joins an XJ lineup that has been refreshed for 2006. All models get flush-mounted glass and less body and window moldings to clean up the car's exterior. The chrome mesh grille previously reserved for the XJR and Super V8 now brightens up the front of all XJs although the XJR retains an exclusive body-color surround. Both short- and long-wheelbase XJ8s get new 18-inch Tucana wheels while the XJR changes to 19-inch Sabre alloys.
You won't need to know the name of its wheels to spot the Portfolio model. Polished aluminum "power vents" in each front-quarter panel are its most distinctive trait. Special "Portfolio" badges and a larger pair of exhaust pipes out back are more subtle reminders. Unique 20-inch Callisto alloy wheels with vintage "Jaguar" script are the final touch to an exterior that looks distinctive enough to command a six-figure price tag.
Now Even Quieter The standard XJ8, long-wheelbase XJ8L and loaded Vanden Plas models continue with a non-supercharged 4.2-liter V8 while the standard-wheelbase XJR and long-wheelbase Super V8 and Super V8 Portfolio use a supercharged version of the same engine. Recertification of both engines results in new horsepower ratings that put the non-supercharged version at an even 300 horsepower and the supercharged V8 at 400 hp. Torque remains unchanged at 303 pound-feet and 399 lb-ft, respectively, and all models use a six-speed automatic transmission.
We recently tested a 2005 Super V8 and found it to be one of the fastest ultraluxury sedans we've ever tested. It hit 60 mph from a stop in just 5.6 seconds, two-tenths quicker than Audi's 12-cylinder A8. The 2006 Super V8 and Super V8 Portfolio should perform about the same.
A short drive in the Super V8 Portfolio reveals a few of the XJ's other notable changes for 2006. Cabin noise has been significantly reduced thanks to insulation that not only fills the windshield and side glass but covers the transmission tunnel, firewall and underside of the hood. At full throttle, even the whine of the supercharged V8 is a barely audible murmur. Eighty miles an hour is dead calm.
All XJs continue to use Jaguar's continuously adjustable air suspension, but the Portfolio uses what Jaguar calls Touring settings that deliver more road feel and less float. Even with its giant 20-inch wheels and 35 Series tires the ride remains plush.
Stronger brakes and a tire-pressure monitoring system are also on the XJ's improvement list for 2006. Non-supercharged models get brake rotors that are two-tenths of an inch larger in front and a half-inch larger in back. The Portfolio, like all supercharged XJs, gets higher-spec R Performance brakes that use even larger rotors and new iron calipers that are stiffer than the previous aluminum versions. We still wouldn't mistake an XJ for a 7 Series by the feel of its brake pedal, but there's more than enough stopping power when you need it.
Unique Interior To further justify the Portfolio's six-figure price tag, Jaguar also improved the materials and feature content of its interior. The seats are covered in premium Conker leather trim while the headliner is made from suede so soft it looks as though it would make a good pillowcase. Flat-finish walnut wood trim provides the perfect transition between the chocolate-colored leather and tan suede.
Like most cars in this class, rear-seat accommodations are as luxurious as the front. A standard fixed center console divides individually adjustable seats with full climate controls, window shades, fold-down trays and DVD monitors. All XJs have been upgraded with Bluetooth wireless technology and Sirius Satellite Radio for 2006, but only the Portfolio gets a 15-speaker Dolby Pro Logic II audio system.
Is It Worth It? The Portfolio's $25,000 price premium over the already pretty spectacular Super V8 is tough to swallow. A six-figure price tag usually means at least a 12-cylinder engine, not just nicer wheels and softer leather. But value isn't the point here. If you ask us, those polished aluminum power vents are worth $25 large on their own.
Plus, you can't put price on exclusivity. Only 145 2006 Jaguar XJ Super V8 Portfolios will be sold in the U.S. this year and, according to the carmaker, all 145 are already spoken for. Given the current real estate market we're not surprised.
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