Las Vegas, Nevada The driving dynamics of the current-generation Jaguar XJ always have impressed the staff at Automobile Magazine, thanks in large part to the stiff, lightweight aluminum monocoque hidden beneath its conservative--slightly too conservative, to our minds--sheetmetal. The XJ's unique construction also helps make the big cat as much as 800 pounds lighter than other luxo-sedans. Unfortunately, the interior of the XJ has lacked the high-end look and feel of its competition, although the satellite navigation and other controls are easier to use than BMW's and Mercedes-Benz's.
Jaguar hopes to take the XJ up to the next level with the Super V8 Portfolio, which is being built in an exclusive run of 150 cars, all destined for North America. Starting with the long-wheelbase Super V8, the Portfolio adds sculpted aluminum power vents behind the front wheels and gorgeous twenty-inch aluminum wheels. The first Jag to cross the $100,000 threshold spoils passengers with individual climate controls for all, four heated seats, a heated steering wheel, and a DVD entertainment system. The seats are draped in soft-grain leather, and fabulous satin-finish American black walnut is liberally splashed about the cabin.
Driving the Portfolio on the roads outside Las Vegas reminds us why we love the XJ--the steering is light and accurate, and the suspension is beautifully damped. Even with the interior's posh new materials, however, the cabin's overall design and the feel of the controls still disappoint.
For those looking for an exclusive British luxury car, the Super V8 Portfolio is fantastic to drive and, with the low build number, offers a unique experience compared with the mainstream German offerings.
On sale: Now
Engine: 4.2L DOHC supercharged V-8, 400 hp, 413 lb-ft