If you really need all this performance then it's a bargain

What is it?

You’re looking at the quickest version of Jaguar’s new limo, but it’s got a different name. There’s no Jaguar XJR in the new big-car range, even though the outgoing car had one. It’s allegedly because the marketing types reckon this car’s sheer size - you can get it in both short and long wheelbase versions - limits its outright sportiness in comparison with the XKR and XFR, and possibly because the whole ‘R thing’ may now be under review, given that Honda and Volvo, among others, use much the same nomenclature.

However, far be it from Jaguar not to provide a top-performance version of any new model. This quickest XJ is a 503bhp supercharged V8 which develops more torque than any other model, even the diesel, and which the figures say can hurl you from 0-60mph in just 4.7sec, which is not far short of a Ferrari’s time. Top speed is still limited at the usual 155mph, though the car would doubtless be good for 170mph-plus in ungoverned form.

What's it like?

Despite the extra potential, the most remarkable thing about the Supersport is its similarity to the rest of the XJ range; it uses the same tyre size, the same suspension bushes and rates, the same controls and instruments.

The only differences are some interior trim details (such as a leather roof lining) and an ‘active’ limited-slip diff, similar to that used for the XK and XF models. It employs electronically actuated brakes on its output shafts to improve cornering traction and aid agility. Jaguar suspension engineers insist you can feel the difference, between “slippery and no slippery” but it’s a faint difference, simply because the standard car sets such high standards, and has impressive traction-keeping gadgetry of its own.

On the road the car’s 270bhp-per-tonne performance is usually discreetly deployed. True, the car has prodigious low-speed thrust, but unless you use wide throttle openings the engine noise is not much more than a V8 murmur.

When you’re really use the power (handy even in motorway traffic for threading the car into gaps it would otherwise miss), the sound changes to that of a pure performance car, just as with the two smaller R models. The thrust is the same, too, not least because this car weighs slightly less than an XFR. This is a light car for its power, and feels it.

What is noticeable, though, is the extra agility of the short wheelbase XJ, which turns a little more sweetly, but maintains its line just as accurately. And given the extra nose mass of the V8, it seems to ride just a shade more quietly over some noisy surfaces, too. Like all XJs, it feels to have been carefully honed: Jaguar is determined to lose nothing to its opponens on refinement.

Should I buy one?

It’s worth pausing before you do: some Jaguar people say the normally aspirated V8 is now just about as quick as you need a car to be. And this is the priciest XJ of all; you pay £87,455 before options, or £90,455 if you want the extra five inches of rear room.

Still, all that power and torque is seductive, and almost too easy to deploy. Against the opposition, and looking at its performance and standard equipment, it’s almost a bargain.

Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

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dipdaddy 6 March 2010

Re: Jaguar XJ 5.0 V8 Supersport

its ok, not sure about the alloys though, its style don't suit the style of the car. if the headlights were tinted a bit front and back then maybe yes. I have no doubt there may be a XJR version out soon maybe next year. The goodwood XK had 524bhp engine, massive wheels and i have not seen that in the XK-RS or the new body kitted XK, XFR so why the experiment with 524bhp? i'm sure they have kept it for something like the XJR. if its true then no doubt it will make its way to an extreme version of a XF and XK - could be their way of giving us an element of surprise. They also need a manual gearbox version of XK like the old XKR-R concept which they never produced and as they are in the firing line of Aston now like old times then there is nothing stopping them aiming for cheap trills type of car in terms of pricing against Aston, but they always say you can't beat an Aston. but if i was saving quite a few thousands of £'s then i'd definitely go for the Jag.

TStag 28 February 2010

Re: Jaguar XJ 5.0 V8 Supersport

I love the way people are confused by this car. First people see it, they don't like it. Then they see it in another colour and aren't sure. Then they see it with a body kit on and love it. Reminds me of the Jaguar XJS. People hated, people quite liked it oh and then they loved it. Sales of that car rose every year until it went out of production. I predict a similar fate for this car.

david RS 26 February 2010

Re: Jaguar XJ 5.0 V8 Supersport

And for who is this baroque Supersport limousine ?