Experienced by Leon L. Brittain
The timing couldn’t have been better for the arrival of Automotive Rhythms’ weekly test drive unit, a British feline with the nimbleness, strength and muscular build of cats in the wild. It was my wife’s birthday weekend and the graduation picnic of our next of kin to don a doctorate degree. Both celebratory occasions were monumental in their own right and precise moments to reflect the shadow of one of the finest Jaguars to hail from Gaydon; the stalwart XJ. We all have Design Director Ian Callum to thank for this precious gem.
Beginning with a silhouette so cunning and stylistically imaginative it almost becomes unfathomable for anyone to manifest a large touring sedan with the lines of a sports car. Yet, Ian did it once again and empowered our XJL with a boisterous front fascia, black top, an operable Panoramic glass roof, sloping rear quarter, and strong character lines, which leaves no confusion between this English vehicle and that German vehicle. Of course the extended physique of the Polaris White Portfolio is as seductive as any full-size luxury sedan on the market including the S-Class, 7 Series, A8, Quattroporte, Panamera and the LS. In fact, I caught more than a few of these competitive owners glazing at the long wheelbase from the corner of my eyes.
Accentuated with 19″ Toba Wheels and omnipresent black and chrome trim, dual exhaust tips, Xenon headlamps and vertical LED rear lights, the Jaguar is powered by an efficient but energetic, supercharged 3-liter V6 with 340-horsepower, which is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission with integrated shift paddles mounted directly on the multi-functional steering wheel. This long and sleek cat purrs aggressively and moves effortlessly without sacrificing any top-end power. The cost of such luxury and performance? A mere $85,475 including the $1,700 fluorescent blue lighting package that illuminates the doors, trunk sills, and air vents, the $800 Front Seat Massage, and the $850 Visibility Package with Adaptive Front Lighting and Intelligent High Beam. During our evening drive back from the picnic on the Wilmington Riverfront in Delaware, the Portfolio honed its skills by turning on the High Beams in very dark areas and then automatically shutting them off when another vehicle approached. Absolutely brilliant!
Entering the majestic and opulent Navy/Navy Ivory leather and Figured Ebony veneer cabin makes one feel noble. Our kids especially were enamored with the level of sophistication bestowed upon the interior’s craftsmanship. The Saturday afternoon cruise up Highway 95 North was hot and heated so the “cooled” front and rear seats were poignant. The rotary JaguarDrive gear selector with Winter and Dynamic Modes always impresses as does Sport mode which enables the vehicle to hold gears longer and accelerate on the fly when downshifting. Though at times I wished for my very own driver to enjoy the sumptuous rear seating since it is much more prodigious and comfortable than the front where the driver and their passenger are confined by narrow spacing and a low ceiling This would cause a concern for taller and wider chaps and individuals with athletic builds such as NBA or NFL players. Also, the aging 8″ touchscreen multi-media and navigation system needs a reboot because it is not user friendly like iDrive and Uconnect. But I will say, the Meridian Sound System is an acoustic blast and the virtual instruments and TFT LCD bring the future to the forefront.
We ended our extended stay in the Portfolio at Sam’s on the Waterfront in Annapolis, MD for my wife CeCe’s Sunday birthday brunch. Our Polaris White model combined with the luxurious Navy and Ivory interior was right at home on the Annapolis Waterfront and Yacht Club. It made her special day that more memorable and most likely deposited credit towards my positive marital traits. Built and modeled after the spider-legged lighthouses, Sam’s authentic culinary experience is a must if you find yourself in the heart of the Chesapeake Harbor Marina. Owner and visionary Andrew Parks changes the menu seasonally and utilizes locally sourced produce as often as possible to reduce the carbon footprint of his relaxing and indulgent restaurant. Not to be forgotten, Andrew’s wine passion has led to a Wine Enthusiasts “Restaurant Award of Distinction,” a first in Annapolis. We dined on the Spinach and Mushroom, Butternut Squash Soup and Local Oysters Rockefeller (topped with fresh spinach, shallots, Pernod and parmesan cheese) appetizers and the main courses were the Salmon on a bed of delectable quinoa, the Oysters Rockefeller and of course the Maryland Style Crab Cake Sandwich. CeCe couldn’t stomach dessert after the seductive meal, but she was treated to one last ride home in the pearly Jaguar XJL to satisfy her sweet tooth.
Our updated experience with Jaguar’s halo vehicle was heartfelt, unforgettable and exciting. As one of the most attractive sedans I have laid eyes on, the British automaker has only created opportunity to improve upon. Hopefully the luxury elite will see things from our perspective and make the vehicle successful from a sales point of view. Especially since the S-Class seems to garner everyone’s attention.