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February 2006,
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2006 Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas

 

The Good :) Sleek and Sporty Performance.  Unique British Styling. Smooth Engine and Drivetrain.  High Quality Interior with Wood, Polished Metal, and Leather.

 

The Bad :( Interior Room Smaller than Competition.  Low Seating Position. Electronic Controls Not User Friendly. 

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Right click and 'save link target as' to Download a full version of this review for iTunes Click Here

 

Jaguar has been making high quality automobiles in Britain for a very long time.  The XJ model presented here is probably the epitome of Jaguar style and heritage. More than 800,000 XJs have been sold since the first generation was introduced in 1968, more than half of all Jaguars ever made.  With a total redesign done in 2003 the look remained mostly the same as previous versions however much was changed in how the XJ was built.  All aluminum manufacturing has made the XJ 40% lighter than if it were made of steel and gives the car its great handling ability.  The body is 60% stiffer than its predecessor as well. 

"We chose a lightweight aluminum vehicle architecture for the new XJ not because it was something new, but because it enabled us to deliver real and significant benefits to our customers" says David Scholes, Chief Program Engineer. "This all-new car had to be clearly identifiable as an XJ, capturing the recognized essence and style of the classic lineage, but it also had to have a modern idiom all of its own" says Ian Callum, Director of Design.

            The exterior of the XJ Vanden Plas special edition model has been made longer, taller and wider.  Wheels are pushed out to the edges and a higher waistline makes for a more enveloped interior feel.  Four oval headlamps and a chrome grille decorate the front end with low fog lamps.  Generous use of aluminum trim, such as on the bumper guards, window trim, and on mirrors and door handles makes for a "old world" feel and look.  Tires and wheels are large and fit nicely without a wide wheel gap.  The rear end offers a very long trunk in traditional XJ style along with two chrome tipped exhaust pipes.  Overall, the style is elegant and traditional, yet with all the modern amenities you would find in today's finest cars. 

            The Vanden Plas model is truly made for those who like to be driven rather than drive themselves.  You find yourself reaching for the rear door rather than the front driver's door every time.  The long wheel base model has a sumptuous interior with thick leather seats and soft leather door inserts.  The generous use of polished metal and wood is carried to the inside with heavy door handles, "Jaguar" logo door sills, aluminum on the head rest pillars of the front seats and on the folding rear tables.  The large amount of wood used throughout also helps convey a luxurious feel although it is not as gleaming as in a Lexus.  Seats are inclined just right to give you a cradle position while seating in back or in front.  We would have liked the rear seats to be adjustable however.  Not to forget are the thick and soft floor mats made of wool which look and feel great.  Legroom in the long wheel base model is generous as it should be but we can find more in other makes as well. 

            In the front cabin, controls are laid out within easy reach and the cozy cabin feels comfortable yet sporty.  We liked the feel of most buttons and minor things such as air vents tipped in chrome as well as their open/close dials.  The gated shifter is classic and feels great.  The main information and navigation screen was easy to use in a touch screen format.  Voice control was not offered on this model but would have made it easier to use while driving.  Heated seats did not work very well but the heated steering wheel got hot quickly and stayed hot for a good length of time.  A trunk mounted CD changer is also available however an Ipod Port would have been more helpful up front.  Rear seated passengers can hook up the Ipod to the auxiliary input jacks which are regular RCA type jacks in the armrest.  A simple Alpine single disc DVD changer is also mounted in the trunk for access to one movie while on the road. 

Nighttime lighting is done very well in the XJ.  Touch the key fob light switch or unlock button and the headlights turn on and small lights under the rearview mirrors light up the ground below.  Interior lighting is bright and glowing.  As you can see in the photos we have taken, the wood gleams at night and the yellowish light makes for a homely and exquisite feeling.  We did not like the green glow of the instrument cluster and around the buttons on the dash.  Headlights work very well and we found the fog lamps add very little to the very bright main Xenon beams.  The Xenon system is not adaptive to the turns of the road ahead, something that should be available in a car of this caliber. 

            The 4.2 liter V8 engine delivers a hefty 300 horsepower however in this lightweight vehicle that feels like a whole lot more.  An impressive 303 lb.-ft. of torque is generated at 4,100 RPM.  Zero to sixty times of 6.4 seconds were achieved in our tests.  However, maximum speed is limited to only 121 miles per hour.  Our test revealed a fuel economy of 17.6 miles per gallon. 

            The six speed transmission is seamless and responsive.  The overall feel is of a very smooth vehicle, similar to BMW in many ways with a silky smooth engine and the feeling of unlimited power.  The automatic suspension called CATS keeps the vehicle stiff and without any roll or bounce through most driving experiences.  The suspension automatically lowers at high speeds to increase stability although the Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas is already very low to the ground for greater driving control.  This low position is what conveys a sports car feel to the driver, similar to the Audi A8.  The driving position may be a bit too low for some drivers causing a inferiority complex when driving besides large SUV's. 

            A small kick down of the accelerator pedal pushes the Jaguar XJ VP into hyperspeed mode.  The XJ accelerates with a smooth and powerful push that is rarely felt in any car.  The XJ VP always feels in control and its quick responsiveness is felt nicely through the steering wheel.  Braking response is also very good with quick and fast stops. 

            Safety and security features include a tire pressure monitoring system, adaptive restraint systems, and dual front and side airbags.  Stability control and a remote entry security system are also standard features.  The Jaguar Adaptive Restraint Technology System uses ultrasonic sensors to calculate which safety systems to activate.  Brake assist applies more brake force if you brake hard and fast.  An electronic parking brake applies itself once the key is removed and releases as you drive away. 

            Jaguar offers a four year 50,000 mile new vehicle limited warranty.  Complimentary scheduled maintenance is included.  Roadside assistance is also included for the warranty period.  Jaguar adds a little something extra by giving myjaguar.com, an exclusive owner web page and Jaguar Magazine for free. 

            Our test car started off at a base price of $74,330.  Optional equipment included was the Bluetooth connectivity kit for $500.  A multimedia package for $2,950 added the dual rear video screens, a single disc DVD player and rear armrest controls as well as the dual auxiliary input jacks.  A warm climate package for $1,350 added the four zone air conditioning system and dual rear air conditioning controls as well as the rear side window sun blinds.  Transportation and handling costs of $665 make the grand total MSRP $79,795.

            Overall interior room is at a premium in the XJ compared to the likes of the BMW 7 series and the Mercedes S class.  You are sitting very low to the ground in the XJ and the more commanding position in these other models offers a more powerful feeling.  Perhaps that is why we see so few Jaguars on the road.  Exterior looks also are unique and traditional, not big, bold and powerful as in models from Jaguar's competitors.  Perhaps the next generation XJ will look more like an Aston Martin just as the new XK coupe has turned out. 

The Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas is for someone who demands three things: A high level of interior elegance with fine leather, wood and chrome accents; Unique exterior styling that clearly shows that you as a person are different; and a pure driving experience that makes you smile each time you kick down the accelerator.  There are very few high end luxury sedans that can accomplish all three. The Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas is indeed a very desirable and unique vehicle that we see very little of on the road, something that makes it even more special for those lucky few that have the privilege of owning one.

 

 

 

PRICING INVOICE RETAIL
Base Pricing 67,640 74,330
Destination 665 665
Multimedia Pkg 2,508 2,950
Warm Climate Pkg 1,148 1,350
Bluetooth Wireless Connectivity 425 500

 

  2006 Jaguar XJ-Series
Vanden Plas 4dr Sedan (4.2L 8cyl 6A)
2006 Audi A8
L quattro 4dr Sedan AWD (4.2L 8cyl 6A)
2006 BMW 7 Series
750Li 4dr Sedan (4.8L 8cyl 6A)
2006 Lexus LS 430
4dr Sedan (4.3L 8cyl 6A)
2006 Volkswagen Phaeton
V8 4dr Sedan AWD w/4 Seats (4.2L 8cyl 6A)
MSRP $74,330 $72,090 $75,800 $56,525 $74,350
Invoice $67,640 $67,389 $69,160 $49,176 $68,183
Basic 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi.
Drivetrain 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 6 yr. / 70000 mi. 5 yr. / 60000 mi.
Base Engine Displacement 4.2 liters 4.2 liters 4.8 liters 4.3 liters 4.2 liters
Valvetrain 32 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
40 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
32 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
32 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
40 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
Variable Valve Timing Standard Being Researched Standard Standard Standard
Horsepower 300 hp @ 6000 rpm 335 hp @ 6500 rpm 360 hp @ 6300 rpm 278 hp @ 5600 rpm 335 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque 310 ft-lbs. @ 4100 rpm 317 ft-lbs. @ 3500 rpm 360 ft-lbs. @ 3400 rpm 312 ft-lbs. @ 3400 rpm 317 ft-lbs. @ 3500 rpm
Tires P235/50R18
all season
P235/55HR17
all season
P245/50VR18
all season
P225/55HR17
performance
P255/45HR18
all season
Wheels alloy rims
18 x 8.0 in.
alloy rims
17 x 8.0 in.
alloy rims
18 x 8.0 in.
alloy rims
17 x 7.5 in.
alloy rims
18 x 8.5 in.
Navigation System DVD navigation system DVD navigation system DVD navigation system w/voice activation DVD navigation system w/voice activation - Optional CD navigation system
City 18 mpg. 17 mpg. 17 mpg. 18 mpg. 16 mpg.
Highway 28 mpg. 24 mpg. 25 mpg. 25 mpg. 22 mpg.
Length 205.3 in. 204 in. 203.9 in. 197.4 in. 203.7 in.
Width 83 in. 74.6 in. 74.9 in. 72 in. 74.9 in.
Height 57.3 in. 57.3 in. 58.4 in. 58.7 in. 57.1 in.
Wheel Base 124.4 in. 121 in. 123.2 in. 115.2 in. 118.1 in.
Interior XJ-Series A8 7 Series LS 430 Phaeton
Front Headroom 38.4 in. 37.4 in. 39.2 in. 38.1 in. 37.2 in.
Rear Headroom 38.6 in. 38.3 in. 38.5 in. 37.9 in. 38.1 in.
Front Shoulder Room 58.3 in. 59.1 in. 59.3 in. 58.3 in. 59.6 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 58.2 in. 57.5 in. 58.9 in. 58.2 in. 57.8 in.
Front Leg Room 43.3 in. 41.3 in. 41.3 in. 44 in. 41.7 in.
Rear Leg Room 39.3 in. 42.3 in. 43.4 in. 37.6 in. 43.1 in.
Maximum Luggage Capacity 16.4 cu.ft. 14.6 cu.ft. 18 cu.ft. 20.2 cu.ft. 13 cu.ft.

 

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