This is dedicated to all those who need something vehicular for the sports car-challenged distaff side of the equation. Why? Because it’s a cardinal rule that, for whatever your automotive indulgence, the real cost is twice that amount.
Here’s how it works; one day, sooner or later, she will want a new car, and you will utter those immortal words, “yes, dear.” Because you can’t say no. The alternative is to be brandished with “and what do YOU have in the garage? What are YOU driving? What have YOU spent our money on?
So, if YOU want to remain attached, you get in the Porsche with her and go shopping for whatever it is that strikes her fancy.
If it’s a car, and you’re in the same rarified price range as your shiny vehicle from Weissach (fat chance you won’t be,) may I suggest a brand new contender, the new model Jaguar XJ. I sampled the car recently, and it was a very interesting experience. Because the car I drove gave me an instant deep dive into the world of, and I quote from the brochure, “jet soft grain leather seats, burl walnut veneer and jet soft grain leather upper fascia and door top rolls.”
The cat’s not pouncing on dealer showrooms just yet. It will be available in May. But factory rep Margy Eatwell has had the distinction of driving my demo ride around the country, providing early glimpses into things to come for potential style setters on dealer lists.
It just so happens that my local dealer is also a Porsche dealer, and they had at least several Panameras on the lot. I asked the salesman, who came along for the test ride, if that created any issues. He shot back, “No, no, no. I’ve never seen someone wanting a Porsche come in here and drive away in a Jaguar. And vice versa. Never. It just doesn’t happen.”
Which made me utter to myself that there’s always a first time. Or, maybe, time for a garage mate. Because the Jag is like a boutique on wheels. And very competitively priced, at that. The base rear-wheel drive model I drove, with 5-liter V-8, 385 HP and 380 lb.ft of torque, pushed 3,870 lbs. of curb weight to 60 in 5.4 sec… for $72,500. Then there’s a long wheelbase version, an XJ Supercharged version in short and long wheelbase and an XJ SuperSport version in short and long wheelbase. Wherein the motor pumps out 510 HP and delivers 0 to 60 in 4.7 seconds… for $115,000.
Don’t tell your wife, but the base XJ costs the same as a well-equipped Cayman S, and the Supersport is close to a well-equipped 997 S.
And, yes, that’s also in the same general range as a Panamera 4S, depending on options.
Ah yes, options. I tried to figure out from the brochure just what, exactly, the car I drove was fitted with. But this turned out to be exceedingly difficult. You see, the brochure has three fold-out spreads showing three different ”themed” interiors. Then they follow with a two-page spread of 14 exterior colors, and a two-page spread of 19 interior “leathers, trims and headlinings” along with 11 “contrast piping, contrast stitch” choices and eight “veneers.”
Can you do the math? Good, because it’s beyond me.
There’s more. An optional Bowers & Wilkins 1,200 W sound system, with 20 speakers and two subwoofers, the drivers being the same as what they use at Abbey Road Studios in London. Front active ventilated, heated and cooled soft grain leather seats with massage and contrast stitching and, get this, Mauveine glove compartment lining… only available on the Supersport. It’s a shade of purple.
The dashboard is virtual. According to Margy, it’s actually a TFT, which stands for Thin Film Transistor, and it allows various displays, which you can change on the go. Like, say you’re using the navigation system; the left-side gauge can become a mini display, showing immediate turn information.
And Jaguar’s version of BMW’s I-Drive and Mercedes’ Command is called iTech. It’s actually an HD touch screen/media hub, and it’s reasonably intuitive.
The car was designed by Ian Callum, whose claim to fame is the Aston Martin DB 7 and the Vanquish. The new XJ is a bit evocative of the old XJ which it replaces, although that design, dating from 1968, went through seven generations. But I wouldn’t go any farther than that.
This time around, you have your “Raptor’s Eyes” look for the headlights, and a “cat’s claws” rear light assembly and a “Swape line” for a crease that runs above the front and rear fenders, and a “turret of glass” moon roof that retracts above the roof in order to keep headroom loss to a minimum, and interior vents that are supposed to evoke the Spitfire airplane, and a wood treatment below the windshield that’s supposed to evoke the Riva speedboat.
Whatever. Let’s just say that, when glancing back and forth between the XJ and the Panamera, which was a simple process at the dealer, the eye ended up hovering on the big cat.
Margy was with the car at the Amelia Island Concours, and she says it drew crowds similar to the classics that lined the golf course.
How does it drive? Oh, yeah, drive, as in driving the thing. Margy said she drove it up to Denver from Albuquerque in a snowstorm, keeping the automatic in Winter mode, with no problems whatsoever. I took the car for a spin. Oh, I fiddled with the paddle shifters for the traditional torque converter six-speed automatic, and I tried Sport and Manual, and I tried to sense the shock changes, and so forth. But, let’s be real, a quick trip around the block doesn’t tell you much.
Which was a complete reversal of my Panamera drive a few months back, at High Plains Raceway, where I couldn’t tell you what any switches or CRTs or navi-frou frous did. I didn’t have time. Because I was lapping in a Porsche.
So there you have it. You can custom design this Jag like a wardrobe. Wear it to the valet parking at the mall (and, by the way, there’s a valet switch.) But, scare the big cat in the switchbacks? Yeah, maybe. Hit the apex on the track? Highly unlikely. But I know you can watch HD DVD movies when you’re stationary. Or she can, while getting a massage, while you’re out, hot-lapping in your Porsche.
Sounds like the basis for a very happy marriage.