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Driven: Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.

Driven: Jaguar XJR
Jaguar's XJR is just how a modern sports saloon from the British company should be.

 



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| Test drive | Jaguar XJR |

Overall rating: 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: epic performance, one of the best cabins you're likely to see, stunning exterior looks, more economical than it has any right to be.
Not so good: nearly 100k, can occasionally feel a bit wayward in the wet, a bit tight for rear passengers.

Key Facts

Model tested: Jaguar XJR
Pricing: 92,370 basic; 96,855 as tested
Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: four-door saloon
Rivals: Audi S8, Maserati Quattroporte V8, Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG
CO2 emissions: 270g/km
Combined economy: 24.4mpg
Top speed: 174mph
0-62mph: 4.6 seconds
Power: 550hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 680Nm from 2,500- to 5,500rpm

Our view:

I might as well pin my colours to the mast right now and admit I love Jaguar XJRs. Always have. The only car that ever gave my old Honda S2000 a proper spanking was an early X308 model, which rather adeptly demonstrated the crushing benefit of supercharged torque over high-revs power on a steep hill near my home, and I have frittered away hours of my life on Auto Trader fruitlessly trying to make man-maths work on a used X350 in black with the 20-inch Sepang alloys. Whisper it, but I even liked the XJ40 versions with their 3.6- and 4.0-litre AJ6 lumps.

So the impending arrival of this test car meant I was anticipating the event with almost childlike glee. Boasting the same imperious 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine as found in the epic XFR-S we drove last year, the X351 XJR nevertheless tries to convey a more cultured air as it is not an unseemly, hard-core 'R-S' model. Which perhaps makes the decision to paint this one Polaris White, and then team it with dark grey 20-inch Farallon alloys and 255 optional privacy glass, somewhat odd. It makes the incredibly daring exterior treatment stand out a mile and as a way of discreetly traversing the UK's roads network, it's utterly hopeless. The number of people who gawped at it was countless, way in advance of its supposedly more arresting French Racing Blue XF cousin; I also noticed many occupants of other cars surreptitiously winding down their windows to hear it as it thundered past.

A satirical motoring website once wrote that the XJ's majestic interior might make your sitting room feel a bit... inadequate (not the word used, but I digress) and that's not as far-fetched as it sounds. Sensational seats, the stunning full TFT display, its neat central touchscreen and rotary gear selector, the beautifully-sculpted steering wheel with the leaper logo, those two dash-top air vents - it's hard to pick fault no matter where your eyes come to rest, nor what your fingertips touch. Although, like many an XJ before it, despite being an externally huge machine it's not as capacious as it should be inside. There's a long wheelbase version for the picky but it's not available in R spec in the UK, only in Supersport guise. So you'll need to shuffle the front seats about (electrically, of course) in the standard wheelbase model if you want to carry four six-footers. Once you do they'll fit in, but the rear accommodation is hardly cavernous.

On the move, even from initial impressions you can tell the XJR has extra pliancy in its ride compared to the XFR-S. Its adaptive damping is more capable of breathing with the road's surface, meaning both primary and secondary ride characteristics are superb. The steering feels as weighty and communicative as the XFR-S system, which means it's very, very good but not quite perfect. Both the brakes and the silken eight-speed automatic transmission are faultless, as is the general air of refinement: minimal throttle on the motorway, the XJR is as quiet as a cathedral. And amazingly economical, too: on a 250-mile round trip across mixed roads to Liverpool, where I must confess I didn't always manage to resist the lure of the 'charged V8's evil temptation, it returned a phenomenal 26.2mpg average, in excess of its quoted figure and truly remarkable for a 1,870kg limo with 550hp. Its instant mpg figure often held in the high-30s during M62 adaptive cruising, which made me scoff in disbelief.

Drive it a bit harder on back roads and it doesn't feel akin to navigating a grand piano down a narrow staircase. The Jag is wonderfully light on its feet and biddable, thanks to an A-pillar that is slim by today's standards; you can always look where you want to put the R. But, like the XFR-S, it demands respect, even with traction control fully engaged - and especially on damp surfaces. Full-bore acceleration on lumpier tarmac makes the back axle feel like it is skipping from side to side on occasion, as it tries to apportion the monster torque for best grip, and it'll thump its back end out before the electronics know what's going on should you stab the throttle too much at the wrong moment. Yet we love it for this hooliganism - a super-refined big exec one minute, brawling street fighter the next. And the V8 sounds magnificent at full chat, bizarrely more vocal and naughty than the XFR-S. Do we need to say the XJR is monstrously fast? We do? OK. It's monstrously fast; freakishly so, in fact, and it is any-revs shove of a frightening magnitude. So treat the throttle with delicacy.

But let's boil it down to this - the XJ is an aesthetic triumph inside and out, exactly the sort of car (alongside the F-Type) that will eradicate any lingering fuddy-duddy image Jag might still have. It offers civilised pace with relatively exceptional economy if you can temper your right foot twitches, and indecent, guffaw-inducing lunacy if you can't. As I'm a committed XJR fan, it's probably not difficult to discern that I love this avant-garde new approach. To hell with the X350, I'll wait for one of these to depreciate. Although possibly not a white one.

Alternatives:

Audi S8: once the ultimate Q car saloon, thanks to its Ronin exploits, it remains excellent but so staid alongside the Jag. Can't believe we're writing this but... it's considerably cheaper.

Maserati Quattroporte V8: the old one was stunning to behold but perhaps a bit manic to drive. The new one is better to steer, yet a bit 'meh' in the styling stakes. Expensive, too.

Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG: Teutonic technocrat with an unhinged 5.5 V8 twin-turbo engine that makes a faintly silly 900Nm. And it costs 120k...


Matt Robinson - 28 May 2014









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2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.

2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.



2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.
 

2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.
 

2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.
 

2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.
 

2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.
 

2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.
 

2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.
 

2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.
 

2014 Jaguar XJR. Image by Jaguar.
 






 

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