English gentleman on the outside, Olympic sprinter on the inside.
– Detroit, Michigan
One of the many things I admire about Jaguar is the brand’s commitment to building astonishingly powerful versions of all its vehicles. The Jaguar XJ is an elder statesman luxury sedan, yet it’s nonetheless offered with a hulk of a supercharged V8 engine, a functional vented hood, giant red-painted brake calipers, and a quartet of loud pipes out back. Even if it lacks the deftness of, say, a Mercedes-AMG S63, the Jaguar XJR is a wicked performer.
- Jaguar Land Rover’s supercharged 5.0-liter V8 is one of my favorite engines on sale today. In the XJR, it’s no less potent than in Range Rovers and the F-Type R, but it’s the pace it produces in this large sedan that’s so impressive. The XJR will hustle to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds with no fuss at all, and apparently will continue its throaty grumble all the way to 174 mph.
- That performance doesn’t ever get in the way of this car’s ultimate goal: civility. The engine only raises its voice when you dig deep into the throttle, and only in Dynamic mode does the suspension start to jostle driver and passengers. You really can get away with thinking this is a luxury car that just happens to have more horsepower than a Corvette Grand Sport; the Jaguar XJR doesn’t overwhelm you with its performance intentions.
- A large, heavy car with a tremendous amount of power needs beefy brakes, and the XJR doesn’t disappoint. Not only do they look fabulous, with fat red calipers, but they produce a reassuringly firm brake pedal and halt the vehicle with authority. Though let’s be honest: I mostly love them because of the contrast between the white paint, red calipers, and gray wheels.
- The 20-speaker Meridian sound system is, uh, music to my ears. Meridian, used by Jaguar Land Rover and McLaren, has long been my favorite in-car audio brand. As with others I’ve heard, every song of any type is loud, crisp, and clear. What’s best of all, though, is the realism of the wide, lifelike soundstage enabled by having a whopping 20 speakers in the cabin.
- The XJR’s straight-line oomph leaves me wishing for a little more in the corners. The Pirelli P-Zero summer tires provide awesome grip and the adaptive suspension keeps body motions in check, but this isn’t the sort of car that encourages me to seek out curvy roads. Don’t get me wrong, the XJR drives extremely well, it just doesn’t have the sense of athleticism some of its rivals offer up. It’s just happier storming along the interstate than kissing apexes.
- Jaguar’s InTouch Control Pro infotainment system is good, not great. The pretty graphics and crisp display are pleasing to look at, but the touchscreen isn’t as swift or easy to use as its competition. When I think of the straightforward, flawless in-car interfaces from the latest Audi and Mercedes-Benz cars, Jag’s system pales in comparison. Simple tasks like changing radio presets become a chore, and making phone calls over Bluetooth was more problematic than I expect in a brand-new vehicle.
- I think I’d like the inside of this car more if I were 30 years older. Lovely appointments abound, including optional carbon-fiber trim in this car, and everything you touch greets your fingertips with a lovely tactility. Yet the ‘Riva Hoop’ design element that wraps around the front of the dashboard makes me feel like I’m sitting too low in the car, the giant chrome air vents scream retro, and the humped shapes in the dash topper are just peculiar. I love the way this car looks from the outside, but the interior just leaves me cold.
Photos: Jake Holmes / Motor1.com