Jaguar XJR review

14 Nov, 2013 5:45pm Paul Bond

Supercharged V8 engine turns up heat on Jaguar XJ


The standard Jaguar XJ feels compromised as a luxury limousine, but thanks to its naturally sporty set-up this high-performance version plays to its strengths. Driving quickly demands concentration, and it feels rewarding as a result – although as a complete package, the Jaguar XJR just can’t keep up with models like the Mercedes S63 AMG.

Few luxury saloons feel as sporty as the Jaguar XJ from the driver’s seat, so the new XJR could be the perfect choice for enthusiast buyers in this class.

The small ‘R’ badges on the bootlid and inside the black mesh grille reveal that this XJ uses a tweaked version of the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 from the Supersports, which develops 542bhp.

The extra grunt exaggerates the big Jag’s playful handling, and on damp surfaces there is a constant battle between the traction control and the engine for control of those wide rear tyres. The electronic interference is so severe that you can feel it grabbing the brakes via the ABS, so throttle inputs need to be slow and deliberate through first and second gear.

Jaguar XJ review

As you start to build up speed, the standard sports exhaust fills the cabin with a fantastic V8 rumble, accompanied by a whine from the supercharger, and the ZF eight-speed gearbox thumps through the ratios without pausing for an instant.

The steering is communicative, and provides decent resistance at any speed – so even on narrow lanes, the XJR seems to shrink around you in a way few rivals can match. The lively chassis demands attention at all times, and the firm suspension can throw you around at speed, but these niggles are the price you pay for its adrenaline-fuelled character.

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Sadly, when you do slow down the XJ starts to make less sense as an all-rounder. The black-lined interior and sharply sloping roof mean occupants will feel cramped in the front or rear, with anyone over six feet tall likely to struggle for headroom.

The flat TFT dials and touchscreen infotainment system are really beginning to show their age, and while the flamboyant air vents, ‘R’ branding and gloss black inserts add a sense of drama, some pieces of trim feel a bit flimsy.

Key specs

  • Car tested: Jaguar XJR SWB
  • Price: £92,370
  • Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8
  • Power: 542bhp
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 4.6 seconds
  • Top speed: 174mph
  • CO2: 270g/km
  • Equipment: Sports leather seats, Meridian stereo, sat-nav, 20-inch alloys
  • On sale: Now