For 2006, Jaguar’s largest sedan, the XJ, receives numerous changes. There’s a horsepower jump, with the naturally-aspirated V8 producing 300 hp to 2005’s 294 hp, and the supercharged V8 making 400 hp to the previous 390 hp; there’s a new, limited-edition Super V8 Portfolio model; new laminated side glass with an acoustic interlayer reduces noise; a new Conti-Teves braking system improves pedal feel and performance; a new tire pressure monitoring system uses radio-frequency transmitters at each wheel; the naturally-aspirated V8 moves from LEV2 to ULEV (ultra-low emissions) rating, while the forced-air version moves from LEV to LEV2; there are chrome mesh grille inserts across all models; a freshened exterior appearance includes new alloy wheels, new smoked-lens side indicators and the deletion of bodyside and window mouldings; a DVD-based satellite navigation system is standard on the XJR and Vanden Plas; the XJ8 L gets a standard electric rear sunscreen; all models feature a six-speed ZF automatic transmission as standard equipment; and there are new comfort and equipment options, including folding picnic trays, four-zone climate control with individual rear passenger settings, multimedia entertainment system with twin screens, DVD player and universal connectivity with iPod and MP3.

The XJ comes in six models, two wheelbase lengths and a choice of two 4.2-litre V8s, one naturally-aspirated and the other supercharged. Short-wheelbase choices are the XJ8 and XJR; long-wheelbase models are the XJ8 L, Vanden Plas, Super V8 and Super V8 Portfolio.

The XJ8 includes 18-inch alloy wheels, Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS) active damping, dynamic stability control, self-levelling air suspension, reverse park control, electronic parking brake, automatic speed limiter, Xenon headlamps with power washers, Burl Walnut wood interior trim, leather interior, 12-way heated power driver and front passenger seats, power-adjustable pedals with memory, power sunroof, CD player, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

The XJ8 L is a special-order vehicle in Canada, and includes the XJ8’s features, plus a standard electric rear sunscreen.

The XJR has the same features as the XJ8, plus the supercharged engine, 19-inch alloy wheels with Z-rated tires, R-Performance adaptive damping and brake system, radar-based adaptive cruise control, front park control, 16-way power driver and 12-way power passenger sport seats, heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, six-CD changer, DVD-based satellite navigation system, power-folding mirrors and electric rear sunscreen.

The Vanden Plas is naturally-aspirated and features a twin-stitched “leatherette”-trimmed dash, Burl Walnut veneer with Peruvian boxwood inlay, leather seating with contrasting piping, deep-pile lambs-wool footwell rugs, 16-way power front seats, heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, six-CD stereo with twelve speakers, DVD-based satellite navigation system, rear fold-down picnic tables, and power-fold exterior mirrors.

The Super V8 has the Vanden Plas’ features, plus the supercharged engine, 19-inch alloy wheels with Z-rated tires, touring-tuned CATS adaptive damping, R-performance brake system, radar-based adaptive cruise control, rear DVD multimedia entertainment system with twin screens, front park control, electrically-adjustable rear bench seat with rear control for front passenger seat, four-zone climate control, electric and manual rear door sunscreens, and Bluetooth wireless technology.

The Super V8 Portfolio builds on the Super V8, adding sculpted aluminum side vents, larger chrome-finished tailpipes, polished 20-inch alloy wheels, unique Black Cherry exterior paint, leather interior with seat piping, black walnut interior trim, suede-like headliner, individual power-adjustable rear seats with centre console, and Dolby Pro Logic II fifteen-speaker stereo system.

The XJ line should satisfy luxury buyers no matter what the need: daily driver, luxury limousine, or sport tourer. The XJ8 offers the same luxury cabin as the Volkswagen Phaeton or BMW 750Li but with a lower price tag, although that’s a relative term at this level. The XJ’s all-aluminum body structure brings the weight down, for superb handling and acceleration. The Super V8 Portfolio is the production version of the Concept Eight design study, but you’d better hurry: only five have been allotted to Canada.

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