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2006 Jaguar Super V8
The 2006 Jaguar Super V8 comes loaded with all the accoutrements one would want in an executive limo--standard--but this car's performance suggests giving the chauffeur the day off. Jaguar created the Super V8 by dropping the 400-horsepower supercharged V-8 found in the XJR into the long-wheelbase XJ chassis. The result is an executive stretch limo with one of the roomiest and most fully featured rear seats in the business, along with impressive driving performance.
The 2006 Jaguar Super V8 offers a real alternative to German and Japanese premium luxury sedans, such as the BMW 750Li. Jaguar maintains a unique exterior look that hearkens back to its earliest models. Its oh-so-British leather and wood interior stands in welcome opposition to the austere, postmodern high-tech look of some competitors. All outboard seating positions are heated and adjustable, as is the steering wheel.
But it's not all old English tradition. The 2006 Jaguar Super V8's standard equipment includes such modern amenities as an easy-to-use navigation system; Bluetooth cell phone integration; a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with screens in each front-seat headrest; and a high-quality, 320-watt seven-CD Alpine audio system, which unfortunately is not MP3 compatible for either CDs or external devices. And of course, all modern safety hardware and software are standard.
The 2006 Jaguar Super V8 doesn't come cheap, but nearly everything is included. The base price for our test car was $91,330. Chrome wheels, at $1,400, were the only option. Add the $665 destination charge for a $93,395 bottom line.
Jaguars have always been noted for their unique interior design and use of fine leather and wood veneer. Befitting its premium status in the company lineup, the 2006 Jaguar Super V8 has ambiance. It is opulent nearly to the point of decadence, with superbly comfortable, heated power-adjustable seats for all four passengers. The driver gets a heated, wood-and-leather-rimmed steering wheel. All of the extra length from the long-wheelbase chassis goes into the rear-seat area. First class barely describes it--it's a toss-up whether driving or being driven is better, and the 2006 Jaguar Super V8 is a fine car to drive. Jaguar literature suggests that the rear seat can be used as meeting space and that laptop computers can be put on the burled walnut-faced fold-down tray tables set in the backs of the front seats. Chalk that up to hyperbole, as even a PDA with a keyboard is too large to fit on the tabletops. But legroom and headroom, along with lamb's-wool carpets and a DVD system with controls in the center console and screens in the rear of each front seat headrest, still make it an excellent place to spend the day.
A keypad in the rear-center armrest gives control of the phone system and the entertainment.
The 2006 Jaguar Super V8's DVD system does have a few peculiarities, or perhaps British conservatism was overwhelming in its specification. Jaguar's press materials say that "Jaguar has embraced and developed many new technologies but is careful to adopt them only when they are relevant and easy to use." Someone in Coventry is not keeping up with the times. The system lacks wireless headphones or a remote control; passengers use minijacks for the headphones and fiddly controls for the system. The player itself is in the trunk, above the CD changer, making a stop necessary for movie changes.
Also not present is any easy way to listen to MP3 files or similar media, as neither the single-CD player in the dash nor the seven-disc changer in the trunk are MP3 CD-capable, and there is no auxiliary audio connection. Hooking up an adapter through the optional cassette player is currently the best bet for iPod or MP3 fans. Interestingly, a MiniDisc player is available as an option.
The 2006 Jaguar Super V8's instruments are set into a classic burled-walnut dash, with the Jaguar-standard, leather-bound horseshoe-shaped center stack. Parameters for audio, navigation, the information system, and climate are controlled through a touch-screen LCD in the stack. We found this interface to be very usable. Marked hard buttons control the system to be displayed--audio, nav, car info, and climate--with details entered by means of the touch screen itself. Zone control for the four-zone climate system is handled through the screen; temperature and fan speeds are independently controlled by standard switches in the center stack and the rear console.
The 2006 Jaguar Super V8's navigation system gets positive marks for ease of use. Control is simple, with logical and well-marked choices from both buttons and the touch screen, as well as a prominent Back button. Alphanumeric entry via the touch screen is far easier than with any joystick or knob, and destinations may also be set with the map cursor. The usual choices for routing are available--yea or nay on highways, toll roads, bridges, and so forth--and route calculation is moderately fast. Directions are good, and the screen is large enough and positioned to be easily visible in most lighting, although bright light and polarized sunglasses can make it unreadable. Resolution could be better, as it is only medium by today's standards.
The car's touch-screen LCD shows the telephone interface.
The standard Bluetooth mobile phone system works well and can transfer a phone's address book to the car. Pairing up a phone to it requires the manual, as users will need to enter a particular sequence of numbers and symbols. Voice activation is a dealer-installed option, interestingly, and was not installed in our test car.
Convenience is one of the hallmarks of luxury, and the 2006 Jaguar Super V8's navigation system highlights nearby gas stations when the 22.3-gallon fuel tank gets low. Other standard operational conveniences include an electronically controlled parking brake that is automatically set when the key is removed from the ignition and turned off when the car is put into gear. It also has manual override. Radar-based adaptive cruise control makes for more automated travel on today's crowded freeways. Both outside mirrors can fold, controlled by a switch inside or by the remote fob.
As with all XJ models, the 2006 Jaguar Super V8's most impressive technology is in its chassis. In construction, it is as close as possible to having a true monocoque structure, with large areas of the skin used as stressed chassis members. That, and extensive use of lightweight aluminum and magnesium alloys in its construction, makes for a svelte automobile. Its 4,000-pound curb weight is remarkably light for a car of its size and up to 500 pounds less than some competitors. The Super V8 is only 58 pounds heavier than its shorter wheelbase XJ brethren. The fully independent double-wishbone suspension uses aluminum for its control arms, reducing unsprung weight and improving ride and handling. A touring-oriented tuning with self-leveling air springs and enhanced Computer Active Technology (eCATS), continuously variable shock damping ensures a pleasant ride quality and better handling than expected from a large luxury sedan. Like the shocks, the air springs are computer controlled, and they increase stiffness with load.
Jaguar's traditional J-gate shift pattern remains, with the left side devoted to manual shifting.
Around town, the ride is soft and very well damped, as expected from a luxury automobile. But wick up the speed a bit, and the 2006 Jaguar Super V8 becomes a toned athlete. On the highway, ride comfort is still paramount, but firmer spring and shock settings improve both responsiveness and driver control. The speed-sensitive, variable-ratio power rack-and-pinion steering is light at low speeds for easy maneuverability but becomes appropriately firmer at higher speeds or in more aggressive driving.
On secondary roads, the big Jag becomes quite the sporting sedan. We had the opportunity to take the 2006 Jaguar Super V8 for a couple of laps around a local racetrack. It acquitted itself remarkably well, with little body roll and excellent stability and maneuverability at a fast touring pace. Credit is due to the light weight and low unsprung weight from Jaguar's use of aluminum and magnesium alloys; the quick adaptive response of the eCATS shocks and air springs; and a minimally intrusive dynamic stability-control (DSC) system.
Need a recipe for performance? To light weight, add serious power. And it's here in the form of a supercharged and intercooled 4.2-liter V-8 engine that makes 400 horsepower at 6,100rpm, with 413 pound-feet of torque at 3,500rpm. Built of aluminum alloy, it's a dual-overhead cam design with 32 valves and variable-cam phasing. Put your right foot to the floor, and up to 13psi of boost comes through the Eaton Rootes-type supercharger, right away without lag. There's a noticeable supercharger whine that will enthrall classic car enthusiasts, as well as serious acceleration. The appropriate soundtrack changes from a chamber orchestra to Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive" at the threshold of pain.
The supercharger on the Jaguar's engine produces a delightful whine and powerful acceleration.
Figure on 0 to 60mph in less than 6 seconds, with top speed electronically limited to 155mph--those are near-supercar figures, and yet the 2006 Jaguar Super V8 more than comfortably holds four people and luggage. It's reasonably efficient, thanks to its light weight and a smooth six-speed ZF automatic transmission. EPA fuel economy figures are 17mpg in the city and 24mpg on the highway, but with excessive use of maximum boost, the inverse relationship between horsepower and economy makes itself known. We managed just more than 16mpg. On a positive note, the supercharged Jaguar engine has moved from EPA LEV to LEV-II classification this year.
Manual shifting is possible, but we found it necessary solely on the track; then we used only third gear. Jaguar's J-gate shifter is tradition and will be an acquired taste. But with more than 400 pound-feet of torque on tap and a broad torque band, shifting is mostly optional.
The 2006 Jaguar Super V8 takes care of active safety requirements well with its first-rate handling response; its strong antilock braking system with brake assist; and its unintrusive stability-control system. The Super V8's R braking system features large vented brake discs all around--13.98 inches in front and 12.83 inches at the rear--grabbed by floating calipers. Braided steel hoses complete the hardware; four-channel antilock with yaw control ensures safe stops. Traction control enhances both stability under acceleration and rear-tire life. On the passive-safety front, the adaptive-restraint technology uses ultrasonic sensors to calculate front-passenger position and other sensors to determine driver position and closeness to the steering wheel, as well as seat-belt use. It also monitors the front seat-mounted side air bags. Side curtain air bags give head protection to both front and rear occupants.
The 2006 Jaguar Super V8's tire pressure is monitored by radio transmitters in each wheel, including the spare. Acoustic laminated safety glass in the side windows reduces external noise and ultraviolet damage. It is also extremely hard to break, reducing the chance of a simple break-in. Don't lose the key; it's not a regular flat one, and it has a personalized chip that talks with the car electronics.
The safety amenities are rounded out by front and rear park-distance control, which should help keep the Super V8's aluminum bodywork intact.
Most of the 2006 Jaguar Super V8 is covered by a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty, with roadside assistance during that time. There is a four-year/50,000-mile battery warranty, with six-year/unlimited-mileage coverage for corrosion. Service is complimentary for the first year or 12,000 miles.