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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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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.