2006 JAGUAR SUPER V8 PORTFOLIO
ON SALE: Now (sold out)
BASE PRICE: $115,995
POWERTRAIN: 4.2-liter, 400-hp, 408-lb-ft supercharged V8; rwd, six-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT: 4065 lbs
0 TO 60 MPH: 5.0 seconds (mfr.)
FUEL MILEAGE (EPA COMBINED): 19.56 mpg
Its a good idea to start out these stories with earnest quotes from executives, because with their limited attention span that is often as far as they get before they turn the page. Not that were going to say anything bad about the Jaguar flagship, as it is not targeted at this precise demographic, an aging and overweight malcontent who couldnt afford one if his richest relative died and left him her mobile home and cats. Jaguar gave us a Portfolio to drive around in Las Vegas, and we appreciated it.
The Super V8 Portfolio is the production version of the Concept 8 shown at the New York show last year. They couldnt call it the Super 8 because thats an inexpensive motel (not to mention a nearly forgotten home-movie film format), so Jaguar added a V. Jaguar is building just 250 Super V8 Portfolios for the global market, with 150 coming to North America. Canada gets five, the United States gets 145. This is only fair: Canada has lots of cold beer, while U.S. has hurricanes and Larry the Cable Guy.
But this is bad news if you want one, as all 145 Portfolios are spoken for, presumably by people who have a genuine and abiding respect for the marque, or speculators who figure if they park the Portfolio under a tarp for a decade or so, it will be worth a million bucks at Barrett-Jackson. To these latter people we say, Good luck!
Our Portfolio has a base price of $115,330, and no options. With shipping, the bottom line is $115,995. If we knew what cars would be worth in the future, would we have ever put a green Honda del Sol on the cover? (Aug. 3, 1992. Look it up.) If you prefer to live in the present, the Portfolio is one of the most attentive, occupant-friendly vehicles weve driven in a long time.
Why so? Mainly because it starts with an excellent car, the Super V8, which combines a long-wheelbase chassis from the luxury end of the range with the stouter drivetrain of the XJR performance edition.
That means power comes from the 4.2-liter supercharged, intercooled engine that last year had 390 hp and this year lists at 400, due to a new SAE horsepower rating process. Transmission is the six-speed ZF automatic, which has seemed to us to be easily confused in other applications but that in the Portfolio keeps pretty close tabs on the accelerator pedal and the engine rpm. Steering remains overboosted, but thats simply Jaguar, just like they seem convinced the awkward, space-robbing J-gate center console shifter is a trademark we would all miss.
Portfolios come painted either Black Cherry or Champagne. The Cherry gets our voteits one of the loveliest colors weve seen in direct sunlight or neon, of which Las Vegas pretty much is 24/7. The Portfolio also gets you Callisto-style 20-inch alloy wheels, with the vintage Jaguar logo in the center cap and 255/35ZR rubber.
Out back are Portfolio tailpipes, which are enormous chromed exhaust tips the size of Crisco cans affixed to what appear to be regular Super V8 pipes. Every time we saw a 1992 Honda Civic sedan drive by that had been the recipient of a J.C. Whitney-type exhaust enhancement, we said, Look! Portfolio tailpipes!
You also get sculpted aluminum power side vents, which seem to do not much of anything, but are indeed sculpted and made entirely of aluminum.
Attention to detail inside Portfolio is commendable. Creamy leather upholstery is the, well, creamiest weve seen, and the lambs wool rugs are toe-wiggling soft. Sunvisors, headliner, door-pillar trim, everything gets the super-soft Alcantara treatment. The black walnut trim is flawless.
Electronically, its all here: A DVD player with TV screens in the back of the two front headrests, a superb seven-channel, 15-speaker Alpine stereo, navigation, Bluetooth, you name it. The Portfolio is a four-passenger car, as the two rear seats have a fixed console and access to practically all the controls except brake and accelerator. It may be the nicest rear-seat experience this side of a Maybach.
On the road this engine has always struck us as plenty powerful, but in a slightly sterile waythe mufflers work too well, for one thing. Jaguar claims a 0-to-60-mph time of five seconds, and thats what our brief testing saw, which will certainly allow for easy merges onto the expressway. Suspension is double-wishbone front and rear, with air springs.
Despite its sizeoverall length is 205.3 inches, a half-inch shorter than a Ford Expeditionthe Portfolio seems light on its feet. Actually, for its size, it is light, as the aluminum monocoque construction keeps the weight down; the Portfolio weighs 800 pounds less, Jaguar says, than the vehicle it considers the cars central competitor, the BMW 760Li.
If you have a Portfolio en route, we say, Congrat-ulations! If you dont but wish you did, allow us to point you toward the regular Super V8, which sells for about $25,000 less, leaving you more than enough for big aftermarket exhaust tips and adhesive-backed power vents (sensing a business opportunity, we plan to approach Pep Boys with an aftermarket version).
For those executives who skip right to the end of a story, here is what Bibiana Boerio, managing director of Jaguar Cars, says about this newest cat: The Super V8 Portfolio offers Jaguars expected combination of style, space and dynamic sporting luxury. It has got all the essential XJ character but with added contemporary highlightsI guess you could sum it up as one absolutely sophisticated car for todays discerning individual!