What’s the saying? “Always a chauffeur, never a groom?” Can’t recall. Not that it matters — when you’re driving a premier British luxury car around the streets of New York City, dressed in a made-to-measure suit and proper driving gloves, all your cares melt away. I recently put my chauffeur skills to the test, driving a soon-to-be-married coworker around in the 2016 Jaguar XJL Portfolio AWD ($90,000) as we attempted to determine together whether or not it’s the perfect wedding-day ride. As part of her venue-scouting mission, we explored different neighborhoods of the city and fashioned a rather strong joint opinion.
We met early one increasingly warm June morning, the sun cutting a sharp path through the city’s humid haze. The XJL was waiting for us, poised and ready to pounce as only an aristocratic cat can. After admiring the car for a moment, we loaded up and were on our way — already there was much to say about our resplendent ride. I let our bride take the lead from her quilted leather lounge; the rest is just front-seat commentary.
The car’s design was sleek but not too conspicuous. I kind of liked that it didn’t attract a lot of attention. The light on those metallic colors looks so nice — the morning light was really pretty.
I couldn’t agree more. Wedding car or not, this car is beautiful. It is large and its design is cohesive — there are no extra lumps or creases or intakes, no ostentatious badges or bling. Just a smooth, pleasing shape dipped in the deepest, almost transparent metallic silver paint. The XJL is five inches longer than the non-stretch sedan, and it looks the part: it’s leggy and lithe, with a strong but graceful stance. Though you happen across XJL’s frequently in NYC, on several occasions we garnered unsolicited compliments. It’s a beautiful car.
Beautiful but understated. It didn’t feel like the car was taking over the day; it felt like the car was meant for the people inside of it.
Also true. To my point above, this is not a flashy car in the same way a Rolls-Royce is flashy. (It also happens to cost about 80 percent less than a Phantom.) This is a proper luxury car that knows its occupants are more important than its own image. Which means its occupants are coddled.
I liked that the seats were perforated. Sometimes with leather, especially when you’re nervous for a big day, seats get really warm. It didn’t feel that way. I felt supported — cradled, if you will. I felt secure in them. Comfort overall was amazing.
The XJL’s interior is splendid, if a little simple. Ours featured very soft quilted and perforated leather seats in a rich, inky black. Ebony veneers inside were understated but still broadcasted opulence, like a baby grand piano that sits in the dark corner of a parlor. Jaguar’s sweeping, semicircle upper-dashboard design adds enormous amounts of visual space.
It didn’t feel like the car was taking over the day; it felt like the car was meant for the people inside of it.
It definitely was comfortable to sit in with heels, which make sitting sort of awkward. I had room to lounge, which probably means there’s room for a gown and gifts. There’s a lot of horizontal space too, which means if you’re a woman there’s room for the train of a gown.
Had to take this one at face value — I haven’t worn heels or a gown inside this particular Jag. But I do know that the XJL’s longer wheelbase mostly benefits rear-seat passengers. There are other amenities in back that might tempt a driving enthusiast into gentle backseat repose as well:
It was nice to have the window shades too, to keep the interior from getting too warm. Also for privacy. The smooth ride made it feel like I could easily apply makeup.
It was so hot that day. I’m glad the interior was comfortable for our special passenger, but I was particularly glad for the ventilated front seats, since my three-piece wool suit wasn’t exactly forgiving, temperature-wise. The smooth ride is unquestionable. This is not a floaty car; it does, however, do a remarkable job ironing out rutted, potholed and otherwise unpleasant city streets into a glass-like surface. Unless you slip the car into sport mode (which is quite fun, even for a car of this size), throttle modulation is silky but powerful; the brakes equally so. Steering feel is firm and, thanks to the XJL’s aluminum architecture, the entire car is light enough that it drives much smaller than it is. The 340-horsepower V6 had plenty of oomph for its comparatively featherweight stature.
It would have been nice to have massage seats in the back. Especially for a chauffeured vehicle, it makes sense to have more luxury in the back than in the front. It would have been nice to have charging outlets in the back too.
Our model didn’t have the optional Premium Rear Seat Package, which includes leather-trimmed business trays (for lunch, your computer, or signing important documents), and an entertainment system (for tuning out Jeeves). I agree that massage seats in back would make a lot of sense, but had trouble feeling empathetic as my lats and glutes were gently kneaded all morning. But of course this ride was about more than just the car. This was about the experience: was the bride content with the service?
Me: Was I an adequate chauffeur?
The Bride: Yes.
Me: So I was helpful?
The Bride: (long pause) You were polite.
What I took away from that exchange is that the car received significantly higher marks than I. Which makes complete sense. This Jaguar is pretty much exactly what you’d want in a wedding car — if you’re being honest with yourself. It’s tempting to want a vintage Rolls or a pink stretch Hummer, but what really counts on the big day is comfort, class and keeping the happy couple front and center. As long as you tick the right option boxes, the XJL Portfolio is up to the task.