Cars

This Jaguar is long and luxurious

All of the above. That became my short answer to the most oft-asked questions when someone sauntered up to the Jaguar XJL Portfolio and asked if the “L”stood for “long (wheelbase),” “luxury” or “limousine.”

In the world of luxury and ultraluxurious cars, there are few that meet the criteria from the outside as well as the inside and at a rather atmospheric price point to boot. Enter the Jaguar XJ and its long-wheelbased L Portfolio edition.

In years gone by, a stretched edition add a few inches of legroom, a fewmore yards of pleather, a rear armrest and low-end doo-dads like a reading lamp that has less power than a hand-held flashlight, and voila … it was a “special edition.” Oh, and they marked up the price, too.

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Not so with the week’s tester. The L (long-wheelbase) adds about five inches to rear-seat legroom, and features trays that drop from the seat back if you’re not busy watching the imbedded TV screen just atop it.

In real-world terms that means the wheelbase grows from 119.4 inches to 124.3 and the overall length increases from 201.7 inches to 206.6. Width (74.6 inches) and height (57.0) are the same for longwheelbase and standard XJs.

Footrests that drop from under the seat have their own small courtesy light to show you where to rest your Bruno Maglis above the deep pile carpeting. Within the whisper quiet cocoon of luxury one could be watching a Bob the Builder DVD with Junior or flailing over your falling Facebook shares and no one would be the wiser. If you’ve ever flown business class overseas, with a seat massager, headrest supports, and the like, you’ll understand.

There’s enough rear seat room that you could plop Celtics Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rando in the back with room for Danny Ainge and a cribbage board and the ensuing arguments. It’s that big.

So, too, are the overhead panels of glass that stretch over the entire interior, offering the front and rear seat passenger their own sunroofs. Honest. Although this gimmick is oft left for small cars to make the cramped confines seem spacious, it’s not needed here. In fact, everything is big in this can–heck, the L really does stand for limousine I’m sure.

The hood is long, emphasizing the sculpted shaped. On the backside the trunk, is a bit bob-tailed but big enough—listed as 18.4 cubic feet—to tow the bags to hand off to your caddy at the links. But it’s also big enough to store the battery and an 18-inch spare tire should one of the standard 19-inch supports go flat. Jaguar has painted the spare’s rim red, perhaps to either embarrass or forcefully remind you that the adequate spare is just that.

I’ve never seen a Jag jumpstarted from its trunk, but a glance under the hood shows scant space for anything else given the massive 5.0-liter, 385 hp,V-8 motor that’s stuffed inside along with strut mounts, and a raft of technology that keeps this cat under control at all times.

You won’t see the motor hitch to the driveby- wire 6-speed automatic that’s used across the entire XJ line, accessed by the pop-up rotary shift in the center console. Or use the paddle shifters that fall easily to the hand behind the wooden and leather-wrapped steering wheel, allowing for an injection of Jackie Stewart with everyman’s Walter Mitty fantasy.

It’s behind the wheel, that the XJL sells itself as more than just a stretched sedan for the bourgeoisie. With the use of aluminum to lighten its 5,149-pound weigh, this cat can leap from o-to-60 mph in 5.4 seconds.The XJL has a top speed of 121 mph—a mark that used to make many a sloped-back sports car proud.

Steering input is direct, not overcompensated as some sports cars dial up the resistance to imply road feel, and no matter how much you hustle, the XJL’s hackles remain calm, responding to a completely independent suspension that monitors, checks, and compensates to absorb any road rash and not transmit it into the cabin.You’ll be stirred, not shaken, and thoroughly smitten.

The beauty of this magnificent car is its many sides: limousine, sportscar, sedate sedan, understated elegance and implied fun all wrapped into one machine with several trim lines, 3 engines and pricing that was well under the $200,000 mark most folks guessed.

The tested XJL stickered for $80,700 and with options rose to $86,250, does not suffer a gas-guzzler tax and provides EPA listings of 15/22. In more than 300 miles of mixed driving, I recorded 20.7 mpg in real world testing.

If you want a car that’s dressed to impress, can scoot like a scalded dog, or make a salient statement about your portfolio at a black tie event or the boardroom, this is it.

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