A Night Out in the Jag
By Scott Corlett
The handler passed us the key to our 2006 Jaguar XJ-Long Wheelbase Super V8 test car and said we’d have fun with this one. We eyed the Super’s 205 inches of length—the Ford Explorer is a foot shorter—and thought his prediction highly optimistic. We foresaw parking drama and tanker-like steering. Thankfully, faster than you can say the equally lengthy name of this sedan, the Super V8 proved us wrong.
We evaluated the Super V8 in early December. Here in San Francisco, that is the time for wet weather and pre-holiday gatherings. In a cocoon of ivory leather and burl walnut, we drove the Super V8 north over the Golden Gate Bridge to pickup friends en route to dinner in suburban Marin County. Heavy wind and rain lashed the silver sedan as we crossed the strait in winter darkness illuminated by the Super’s xenon headlamps. The Super V8 weighs several hundred pounds less than rivals such as the Audi A8 and Mercedes-Benz S-class; despite its relatively lean frame, the Jag felt solid and certain as it cut through stormy Pacific weather.
The extra inches of the XJ’s long wheelbase version are given to rear seat passengers. Our dinner companions entered through wide, easily accessible rear doors, climbed into heated, adjustable leather seats, and sunk their wet shoes into carpet with outrageously thick pile. From our distant, 16-way-adjustable, heated front seats, we shouted our greetings. Seduced by the private-jet feel of the rear compartment—the back of each front seat has a DVD screen and a fold-down, burl-walnut dinner tray—our guests suggested we skip the restaurant and hit a drive-thru. We ignored that proposal and punched the restaurant’s address into the Super V8’s easy-to-use DVD navigation system. We grabbed the heated, leather-and-wood steering wheel and proceeded on our way.
The sedan’s 400-hp supercharged V8 engine shot us up the wet freeway onramp. A smooth-shifting, six-speed automatic transmission transferred power from the engine to our Super’s optional 19-inch tires. Already potholed by winter’s rains, the highway’s surface was no challenge to the Super’s self-leveling air suspension system. This system strikes a class-leading balance between a luxurious ride and precise handling. Front and side airbags for the front passengers plus curtain airbags for all passengers stood ready to protect in the event of mishap.
We arrived at the restaurant and scored princess parking – the standard Front and Reverse Parking Control systems were key allies as we maneuvered into the parallel spot. The dinner of small, shared plates was delicious and only moderately expensive. The Super V8, in contrast, is fully priced with a base price of $91,330. We finished dessert—fiendishly good shot-glass-sized milkshakes—and returned to the car. The rain had paused; back on the highway, we took the opportunity to impress our passengers with the Super’s standard radar-based Adaptive Cruise Control system. When engaged, this system adjusts the sedan’s speed to maintain a safe following distance from vehicles ahead.
We dropped our precious cargo at their hillside townhome and then raced home to the City. Dinner in the ‘burbs is a fine way to start a Saturday night; however, we were itching to hit the dance floor. We threw on our tightest jeans and black T-shirt and jumped back in the Super. We cranked the 320-watt Alpine stereo, shifted into big D, and headed out for some San Francisco fun. We won’t bore you with the rest of that night’s story. At the end of our week in the Jaguar Super V8, we handed back the sedan’s key and gave a long sigh. Yes, the handler was right – the Super V8 was indeed a very fun ride.
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