In partnership with: North Yorkshire Moors Railway
Some say its a little long in the tooth, some still say its not a traditional Jaguar. Whatever is said about Jaguars flagship XJ, its a fine machine and in supercharged 5.0 V8 form the XJR remains a hell of a weapon for those who still yearn for excessive explosive petrol power…
Greetings grapple fans. I first wrestled with the astonishing Jaguar XJR a couple of years ago and even some months afterwards I remained spellbound at its speed and amazed at its ability to rack off those often laborious long distance miles. In a clinical world of sub 99gram cars with just a trio of cylinders firing you up the road, its nice, no… correction, an honour and a pleasure to settle behind the wheel of something special with a monster engine up the front.
Since the last XJR experience Jaguar have given the car a bit of a makeover. There’s neat and stylish LED based headlamps and neat looking new tail light clusters at the rear. As with the headlamps, the rear units also feature energy efficient LED which not only increase their output but give a mirrored “J” effect on the sidelight setting. Other noteworthy features include a brand new instrument cluster of which you can change the style and font of the clocks and a new infotainment unit that boasts an amazing sound quality.
The overall shape of the car remains unchanged, I’ve heard people say it needs a refresh but personally I disagree. Its a big car in every sense but the extensive use of sheet, forged and cast aluminium in virtually all areas of construction still keep the kerb weight comfortably under two tonnes. Once again, purely on a personal take, I think the XJ is achingly pretty and colour sensitive – the Italian racing red paint job worked in with some gloss black and the 20 inch Farralon optional alloys make this car utterly jaw dropping. You only have to watch overtaking traffic slow down and gaze in wonderment… and they do.
On the inside there is more leather you can imagine. The chairs, the doors, the console and even the roll top of the dashboard is clad in hand stitched hide. Even the interior roof and pillars are trimmed in black suede – the aroma that fills your nostrils when the door is opened cannot really be put into words alone. Other garnishing of taste include plenty of piano black and chrome plate – glorious. The late Cubby Broccoli used to say that every penny spent on creating a Bond film should be up there on the screen for all to see. Its the same with the Jaguar XJR… its hard to feel small changed for your money.
“this is one hell of a car in terms of handling and steering and all that savage relentless power, she’s a road going locomotive… that’s what she is”
Terry Clarke – Specialist automotive engineer and race car builder.
Jaguar have also improved and tweaked the handling and ride. The previous model used to pitter patter over ruts and bumps often joggling you around town whereby now even though the ride edges on the side of firm, its amazingly controlled and almost supple once your speed increases. For sure its not a town car though – think of it as a thoroughbred racehorse, its a creature bred for one thing… speed. Show it an open highway, an empty motorway at night or a winding A road and all of the Jaguar talent of their chassis and powertrain boffins come to the fore – its really very very very good!
The newly installed ePAS system is every bit as good as the traditional hydraulic system of old. Jaguar were reluctant to offer this system until their engineers were totally sure of success – and have they done it well. The feel at the rim and the diminishing assistance as speed increases makes you feel connected to the road itself. There’s none of the arcade game lifelessness you’ll note with other cars fitted with electronic steering. Even though you can never re-create the sensation of a traditional hydraulic speed density steering system, I believe Jaguar have come pretty damn close.
Taking the car down to Somerset I let a good friend of mine have a steer around the Cheddar back lanes. He’s no ordinary bloke either but a man with 30 years experience of classic car restoration and race car building. Barely five minutes behind the wheel Terry turns to me and says; “this is one hell of a car in terms of handling and steering and all that savage relentless power, she’s a road going locomotive… that’s what she is“. And he’s right too what with 550Ps and almost 700Nm of torque this sort of power isn’t so much as delivered… more like dropped from 30,000 feet.
Despite its girth the XJR clings onto corners like a barnacle to a ships hull – the only limits seem to be the drivers ability or too much water on the tarmac. You have to apply the power with common sense – too much too soon just causes an unsettling ride along with a virtual slap on the wrist from the traction systems. But once acclimatised and mastered the XJR almost shrinks to half its size being easily threaded through the bends with almost Go-Kart ability. It goes without saying the car possesses a genuine Jekyll and Hyde nature in the wrong hands but can be as forgiving as a kind Uncle too in the right ones.
“…strangely enough you don’t mind shovelling £20 notes down the filler pipe if a car gives you that little something in return… and it does”
With just a flick of your right foot you gain on slower traffic with devastating speed. They claim you go from zero to a mile a minute in just 4.4 seconds – this isn’t fast… its in supercar class. Where its legal it will slingshot you to the point of knocking on the door of almost 180mph but drive it full bore and she will flood fuel into the engine akin to a leaking water main. And yet strangely enough you don’t mind shovelling £20 notes down the filler pipe if a car gives you that little something in return… and it does. Off the boil however, the XJR still continues to satisfy.
After a days fun south west, I drove back from Somerset to Sussex on the cruise at a legal 70 the XJR returned an amazing 38.1 miles per gallon. I reckon 40 could have been pipped had the aircon not been switched on and a dreaded traffic hold up near Reading not taken place. Jaguar have clearly worked some magic under the bonnet as the last model tested didn’t come close to this and the Co2 figure has been reduced to 264G/Km. Not everything is perfect though. The column stalks still seem a bit low rent and the panel dimmer is poorly located and also a bit cheap feeling – c’mon Jaguar you know you can do better!
The headroom on offer is a little lacking too but by no means does the car feel cramped. Normally a red car with a black interior brings on a feeling of mild claustrophobia too, but in the XJR it just seems to add to the stealth feeling. Despite the basic styling being a good few years old the recent revisions have paid dividends towards efficiency. Also the Jaguar represents good value – really? Well the equivalent Mercedes S63 AMG offers a little bit more extra performance – from a bigger engine too… but that’s well over £100,000. You also have the Maserati Quattroporte V8 too – but do you really want a big FIAT?
No of course not.. what you need is a car like the Jaguar XJR. Utterly British, utterly pointless and utterly wonderful. And who can ignore the Jaguars extra ingredient that all of the others lack – coolness. Excess has never been so much fun.
Autobritannia.net rating: 8/10
THE HUMBLE OPINION:
Looks amazing, drives superbly and offers genuine supercar performance and road manners with almost limousine comfort. Getting on a bit but none the worse for wear, its still one hell of a car – and decent value too… compared to some.
I’m saying nowt else… I simply love it!
MODEL TESTED: Jaguar XJR 5.0V8
Price: £91,775 excluding options
Power Unit: 5.0 V8 quad cam twin vortex supercharged petrol
Driveline: Electronic 8 speed ZF auto with paddle shift & adaptive differential
Power / Torque: 550Ps / 680Nm
Performance: * 0 – 60 in 4.4 seconds with limited maximum of 174mph
Fuel Economy: *25.5 mpg combined (27.2mpg on test)
Co2: 264 G/Km
* = Manufacturers or Govt claimed data
THE HIGHS: Supercar performance – Amazing handling – Great steering feel – Well equipped – Motorway refinement up with the very best – Still looks cool and sleek – Has a charm that other cars cannot hold a candle to – Brilliant sound system – Clever chassis and driveline assistance software – Almost limousine comfort when cruising – Value for money compared to some European rivals
THE LOWS: Still some cheap feeling bits and bobs – High depreciation – Eye watering fuel consumption when really flying – Not for the faint hearted – A little lacking in headroom – Slightly messy array of wiring and pipework under the bonnet.
For more information on the Jaguar XJ range CLICK HERE