From £90,0858
New high-performance Jaguar saloon suffers from a few minor foibles, but its substantial firepower more than compensates
Nic Cackett
27 October 2013

What is it?

The Jaguar XJR is a flagship sports saloon that’s designed to rival the likes of the Mercedes S63 AMG, and it packs many a trait that will endear it to enthusiasts.

Powering the 1870kg XJR is an all-aluminium 5.0-litre V8, replete with a Roots-type supercharger and a pair of air-to-water intercoolers. The net result is an almighty 542bhp and 502lb ft, which is sent with conviction to the rear wheels through a swift-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission

Corralling all that power at the tail is an electronic active differential, which helps deliver an admirable amount of fuss-free traction. Braking force is provided by substantial vented 380mm front discs and 376mm rear discs, which can bleed off speed quickly and repeatedly, while Jaguar’s stability systems unobtrusively keep things in check when required.

Other XJR-specific details include bespoke calibration for the transmission, a new front splitter, a rear spoiler, 'R' bonnet louvres and exclusive interior materials.

What's it like?

On the road the Jaguar proves a thoroughly gratifying car to drive, thanks to its devastatingly rapid acceleration and its adept cornering capabilities. Its hydraulic steering is precise, well weighted and adequately communicative, body roll is minimal, front-end grip is high and entertaining tail-out action is only a few button presses and a dose of throttle away at any moment.

Both its brake pedal and accelerator have easily modulated responses which, combined with the fact that the Jaguar feels both lighter and smaller than it really is, make the XJR easy to control and balance.

The Jaguar’s suspension is overly firm, however, and not entirely befitting of the car’s supposedly luxury nature. You routinely feel every ripple in the tarmac underneath and, coupled with a light vibration through the steering column and accelerator pedal, you’re persistently reminded that you’re on the move.

Externally it’s a smart and subtle saloon, with the only minor cosmetic flaw being a set of exhaust tips that look a little low-rent and lost. A pair of larger rectangular exhausts, frenched in to the rear valance, would probably look considerably better.

Inside you’ll find a premium-looking interior with comfortable, supportive seats. There’s plenty of room for front occupants, but taller passengers will find the rear somewhat cramped, a typical XJ trait. Standard equipment is comprehensive and includes quad-zone climate control, heated and ventilated seats front and rear, sat-nav and a surround-sound system.

There are a few faults, primarily some flimsy-feeling switchgear and plastics. It's also disappointing to see that the modern-looking TFT instrument panel is bereft of additional instrumentation and customisation options. Given the Jaguar’s high-performance nature, many would no doubt appreciate the ability to view readouts for the likes of oil temperature, oil pressure, transmission temperature or boost.

The Jaguar would also benefit from the active exhaust system available on the F-type, as at idle and at lower speeds some may find it lacks the aural presence they might expect of a supercharged V8 saloon.

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Nevertheless, the overall impression is of a quality product. Average a realistic 20mpg and the XJR will even cover a tolerable 360 miles between fuel stations. This, coupled to its relatively spacious interior and large boot, means it’s a moderately practical and usable super-saloon.

When it comes to specifying your XJR saloon, however, don't opt for the £1295 carbonfibre engine cover. It feels frail, looks cheap and you can't see it when you're driving anyway.

Should I buy one?

If you’re in the market for a luxury five-seater that’s ferociously quick and rewarding to drive, and are willing to accept a few refinement and finish issues, then the Jaguar XJR is a worthwhile choice. It’s also over £27,000 cheaper than the equivalent S63 AMG, so it represents comparatively good value for money.

Some might, however, find the outright capabilities of the XJR intimidating, unmanageable or unnecessary in the real world.

In these instances, a regular supercharged 3.0-litre V6 XJ - or perhaps the diesel variant, if your mileage justified it - would be the more controllable, cosseting and relaxing option.

Jaguar XJR

Price £92,370; 0-62mph 4.6sec; Top speed 174mph (limited); Economy 24.4mpg; CO2 270g/km; Kerb weight 1870kg; Engine 5000cc, V8, supercharged, petrol; Power 542bhp; Torque 502lb ft; Gearbox Eight-speed automatic

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Comments
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JOHN T SHEA 29 October 2013

XJR RIVALS.

The Audi S8 is also aluminium, has more tech, including 4wd, and costs less.

Brecks 29 October 2013

Jaguar XJR

Or use common sense and buy a BMW LCI M5 like mine.
Quicker more economical than either of these and with discounts much cheaper, add £1000 for 5 years servicing and you've got a bargain.

Ray60 29 October 2013

Brecks wrote: buy a BMW LCI

Brecks wrote:

buy a BMW LCI M5 like mine.

I think I'll pass...

MikeSpencer 28 October 2013

Maserati's new Quattroporte

A closer rival to the XJR than the Mercedes S63 AMG, surely?