Jaguar XJ XJR
Jaguar's big saloon arguably looks more handsome in XJR form
- Image and looks combine to create a distinctive package
- Supremely comfortable and stress-free driving experience
- Sensational performance from supercharged V8 engine
- Impressive handling and grip for such a big car
- Restricted rear headroom
- Small elements of penny-pinching inside the cabin
- Circular gear selector is pretty but easy to turn in the wrong direction
- Slightly firmer ride compared to standard car
The flagship saloon of the Jaguar range has been updated for the 2014 model year, and perhaps most importantly a new XJR model has been introduced at the top of the range. Retaining the link to Jaguar's sporting car past it has even tougher opposition to face in this luxury performance market.
Jaguar made a bold move in the right direction with the current generation XJ, avoiding the trap of slavishly aping designs of the past and creating a modern design that will appeal to new buyers as well as Jaguar fans. It is much closer to a four-door coupe than a conventional 'three-box' saloon, and in taking this route Jaguar is setting the XJ apart from its more conventional rivals.
The elegant exterior is once again formed from aluminium, as is the majority of the car's structure, with other lightweight materials such as magnesium used in specific areas. By doing so Jaguar has ensured that the XJ is significantly lighter than the competition, even the similarly-aluminium Audi A8, bringing benefits in terms of performance, efficiency and economy. At launch as much as 50% of the aluminium used is recycled, with the aim to increase this to 75% in a few years.
The 2014 model year updates include a further boost to its luxury credentials. Features such as five-level massage seats and a wider range of audio and entertainment upgrades are now either standard or optional, while the cabin itself can be specified in an even greater range of trims, hides and woods for a more personal touch.
The XJR model has its own distinctive look over the standard car, with discreet but attractive spoilers and skirts, unique alloy wheels and subtle badges. Mechanically the XJR has an increase in horsepower and torque over the similarly-engined Supersport model as well as revised suspension and recalibrated ESP system.
Our verdict on the Jaguar XJ XJR
The XJ is a very appealing car in standard form but the XJR simply adds more fun to the mix. It's arguably more handsome, unquestionably faster and barely diminishes its luxury car credentials. Clearly it requires a substantial investment but then this is Jaguar's ultimate combination of power and luxury.
Running costs will of course be at the higher end of the scale, with the supercharged petrol engine consuming fuel quite rapidly even when driven with restraint. Insurance and servicing costs will be high too.
Space and practicality
The XJR offers sufficient space for four or even five adults, but it is not a massively spacious car. It is unquestionably luxurious but instead it cocoons its occupants in style, and the low roofline and compact windows give it an intimate feel. In practical terms the boot is well-sized and can be remotely opened, although cabin storage is average for a car of this size.
Controls and display
The cabin layout of the XJR is particularly impressive, with much of the car's systems controlled through the touch screen. Available with the innovative Dual-View system it allows the passenger to view TV or a DVD while the driver can only see system screens or the satellite navigation. Additionally the driver's instruments are displayed virtually via a high-definition screen, bringing high levels of clarity and the ability to display a wide range of information.
With features like massage seats and four-zone climate control, getting comfortable is rarely an issue in the XJR. Noise levels are impressive too, with wind noise only becoming apparent above 70mph. Because of the stiffer suspension ride comfort is not quite at the very high level of the standard car, but by any normal measure the XJR rides very well indeed.
All XJ models come with keyless entry and start, plus a high specification alarm with battery back-up, which should prevent even the most determined thieves.
A high complement of safety equipment comes as standard with XJR, including a minimum of six airbags and tyre pressure monitoring on some models.
The XJR aims to offer more excitement than the standard car and in this respect it foes very well. Driven sedately it is very relaxing and undemanding, but fully exercise the potent V8 engine and it has the capacity to thrill. Despite its size the XJR is fast and composed, and keen drivers will not be disappointed.
Family car appeal
Although it is quite obviously a luxury car the XJR has the space and comfort to make a decent family car. Especially if fitted with the optional rear entertainment package which will keep the rear passengers very happy on long journeys. The standard leather seats will also stand up to sticky fingers and crumbs much better than the cloth equivalent.
First car appeal
The XJR is not only far too expensive for a new driver but is more than likely too large for their needs and will be far too costly to insure.
Quality and image
At this price point high levels of quality are expected, and the Jaguar scores well. Both inside and out it feels like a coherent design with plenty of nice touches, and the general standard of materials is very high. There are one or two signs of cost-cutting however, which puts it just behind the best German rivals. The XJR's image is arguably even stronger than that of the standard car thanks to its performance credentials.
Long wheelbase versions of the XJ inevitably fair better in this respect, but in either model the large doors aid entry. The relatively low roofline may mean taller passengers will have to duck more than in a rival product, but it is otherwise without fault.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
All XJ models including the XJR use a high-end Meridian system, and it delivers a superb sound, offers a wide range of inputs including digital TV, DVD and now DAB, and is easily controlled via the touch screen or steering wheel controls.
Colours and trim
With a more sporty look than the standard car the XJR wears bolder shades more comfortably, particularly with the bigger alloy wheels. On the inside the multitude of options means there is no excuse for having a cabin that is tastefully finished.
Such a long car with relatively narrow window lines could make parking a tricky task, but the light power steering and standard parking sensors are a help. A reversing camera is either standard or available as an option across the range.
The XJ comes with a tyre repair system or a space saver spare wheel depending on the model.
Petrol engine options - 3.0-litre (335bhp); 5.0-litre (503bhp, 542bhp). Diesel engine options - 3.0-litre (271bhp). Transmission options: eight-speed automatic transmission standard on all models. Trim levels: Luxury, Premium Luxury, Portfolio, Supersport, XJR.
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