It’s always a great pleasure to experience a European full-size flagship sedan. You know it’s the pinnacle of what that particular manufacturer has on offer and often the vehicle itself sets benchmarks that eventually filter down to not just its own range but motoring in general. But life becomes even more interesting when the chance to sample a performance version arrives, in this case Chris Bowen looks at the epic Jaguar XJR.
The 10 Minute Test Drive.
The current XJ was launched way back in 2009, so despite a recent facelift there’s little to write about when it comes to changes. However plenty of strangers I encountered on my week long test drive were more than happy to comment on the big Jag’s impressive presence and sense of drama and inherent prestige.
A keen Jag spotter will notice the new bumpers, a steeper vertical grille and diamond bright LED headlights with new ‘double J-Blade’ daytime running lights. Being an XJR brings with it striking red brake calipers and attractive body kit, the highlight being bonnet vents with the word “Supercharged” etched into them.
Interior wise it’s a rather grand affair and befitting of the premium experience expected. An analogue timepiece sits front and centre of a rather classically designed cockpit. Round chrome finished air vents and the unique wrap around carbon fibre veneer atop of the dash really do pull off a slightly different approach to the others. Rearward vision is affected by a steeply raked rear window combined with the tall boot. Just on that, the rear end? Not sure about the execution and probably the XJ’s least flattering trait.
The test model featured sumptuous red leather pews and velvety soft upper trim. It’s all so Jag and very British, there’s a lot to like here.
But what about the driving? It takes mere minutes to appreciate the level of finesse this not insignificant sized car possesses. The steering is light but impressively responsive and direct, the ride well-cushioned but with a beautifully natural balance. Although it does lack the magic carpet air assisted suspension of say a BMW 7 Series. Some cars are just engineered to be a sheer pleasure to drive, this is one of them.
But at the core of the XJR lies its real party trick, a simply mental 5.0L V8 Supercharged V8. With 404kW on offer we are talking supercar performance potential here. Aside from the Rolls Royce Ghost and Wraith I’ve never experienced the feeling of such a large car being propelled forward at a phenomenal pace. The XJR takes off like it’s been rear ended by a road train and then just keeps going and going. It makes a mockery of Australian speed limits and unless you have a death wish very few will ever experience the true talents of this undercover rocket.
The V8 features a creamy but somewhat muted soundtrack, but then again I wasn’t expecting the whip cracking epic noisy experience I once had on the F-Type R. Whipping the rear end out is easy in the wet, but it’s also possible to get a little loose in the dry.
Ins and Outs
As mentioned the 5.0L V8 Supercharged Petrol V8 is the headline. The facts don’t lie – 404kW @ 4000rpm and a mammoth 680Nm @ 3500-4000rpm are the reason this big cat sprints to 0-100km in just 4.6 seconds. An 8-speed transmission does a sterling job of sending all that firepower to the rear driven 20’’rims. A “Dynamic” mode makes the whole car just that little bit more edgy and even more threatening under hard throttle.
Standard features include some pretty nice gear with some of the highlights including red painted brake calipers, solar reducing panoramic sunroof that includes a front and rear section, heated and cooled 18 way adjustable front seats and XJR body kit and four zone climate control. There’s a TV tuner and Meridian sound system that has a gazilion speakers.
Options fitted to the test car include premium metallic paint, carbon fibre engine cover, DAB+ radio and an air quality sensor.
The Tech Inside.
This is where I’m a little surprised with the big Jag. The 8.0-inch screen is rather small by today’s standards and that includes any make or model. The interface is nice enough with colourful graphics and is fairly straight forward to use. But things like Apple CarPlay that can be found in a Hyundai are nowhere to be seen.
They have pulled off a nice TFT driver instrument display, which can project a map across the entire instrument display. But it hasn’t been executed anywhere near as well as the dazzling efforts of Audi, who incidentally also include Google Maps.
But the biggest disappointment is the lack of standard driving aids. Radar or adaptive cruise control or even a 360 degree camera are options! These have found their way into highly affordable SUV’s, to be an option on a 300k plus car is more than rude.
It also lacks the remarkable headlight technology BMW and Audi have deployed recently. LED headlights just don’t cut it at this price point. They need to be adaptive, bend round corners or even be laser driven to win my vote.
So sure, it’s down on tech and I guess that’s no surprise given the overall design’s age. But you know what, I can look past all that.
The Hip Pocket.
Fuel consumption is rated at 11.1L/100km an excellent figure considering what’s on offer. In fact I managed 10.8L/100km albeit with mostly motorway driving. But it’s the shock and awe figure of $306,735 that will leave many shaking their head. When you consider premium metallic paint costs $2,000, a carbon fibre engine cover $3,700, DAB+ radio $600 and even $180 for an air quality sensor it all starts to boggle the mind.
EFTM Rubber Stamp of Approval.
I’ve loved European cars for many a year and fortunately I’ve had the chance to sample many of the latest and greatest in recent times. The Jaguar XJR doesn’t quite fall into that category. But it does have a certain charm combined with excellent performance credentials that actually make it a favourite of mine. It’s no wizard when it comes to in car tech, nor is it the most impressive modern piece of automotive design on offer. But boy oh boy it makes you feel good, in a proud British kind of way. I award the Jaguar XJR the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp of approval.