First Drive: 2016 Jaguar XJR


What’s new?

Apart from the mildly tweaked grille and headlights, which are now full-LED in line with the way the industry is going, the main news is inside the mighty XJR. There are new leathers, a new Meridian Digital Reference audio system with no less than 26 speakers and 1,300 Watts of power, and a new InControl Touch Pro interface through which to control it.

Looks and image

You could criticise Jag for having gone copycat when designing the front ends of its family of saloons, but the XJ is unmistakeable if only because of its breadth. The XJR wears deeper bodywork, more cooling vents, four exhausts and, for the keen-eyed, red-painted brake calipers.

It looks the business, blending aggression with sleek elegance and hidden potential. Its sheer dimensions only exaggerate the additional statement the styling details make over and above that of the standard XJ. No one who sees a white XJR on black wheels is likely to mistake its purpose.

Space and practicality

Any car the size of the Death Star is going to have plenty of space in it, and the XJR doesn't disappoint. A huge boot is great, but the step above the rear axle could be a blessing or a curse depending on your needs. Rear passengers have acres of room on the face of it, but the front seats have no gaps beneath them so you can't push your feet as far forward as you'd like.

Front seat occupants can relax in sporting opulence, with seats you sit in rather than on, contrasting stitching and handy places to put documents or music players. The materials are arguably a bit too nice to subject to the hardships of family life, but the R isn't likely to see that kind of use anyway.

Behind the wheel

The XJ feels big. It's partly down to the stepped effect of the dashboard and partly because it's about a million feet long, but there's no escaping the feeling of size. That huge footprint on the road helps give it stability, bolstered by superb suspension. Only the large wheels introduce a hard edge to sharp bumps, but they're essential for the XJR's aesthetics.

More imposing than the size, though, is the torque. Jaguar must have squeezed some kind of jet engine into the car, because a brave push of your right foot brings about biblical acceleration from more or less any speed, way in excess of what the figures suggest. If you're on the derestricted autobahn you'll hammer past 150mph without breaking a sweat. It's the world's most British cruise missile.

What's more, that rumbly, sexy, potent supercharged engine is linked to very long gears. Eighth in the creamy gearbox keeps cruising revs so low that 2,000rpm won't arrive until almost 100mph. Straight-line stability is very good, and the steering calibration here feels far more natural than that of the diesel XJ.

Value for money

Considering the XJR has enough straight-line punch to swat 99.99% of other cars on the road into the middle of next week, as well as all-day comfort and a pantheon of top-drawer materials, an epic Meridian audio system and a general, all-round feeling of tautness and capability, £91,755 isn't such a bad starting price. Mind you, £1,575 for adaptive cruise control and Queue Assist for slow-moving traffic seems a bit steep.

Who would buy one?

There's something about the XJR that separates it almost completely from other large luxury cars. That nuclear engine is as addictive as it is powerful, and the general feel from the driving experience is one of heavyweight performance. That's going to appeal to business leaders looking for something that makes a visual and aural statement – and to hell with what it costs.

This car summed up in a single word: Colossus

If this car was a…: Norse god it would be whichever one had the biggest hammer.


Jaguar XJR 5.0, from £91,755

Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged petrol V8 producing 542bhp and 502lb/ft

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic driving the rear wheels

Performance: Top speed 174mph, 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds

Economy: 25.5mpg combined

Emissions: 264g/km

Jaguar XJR

Search Used Stock Jaguar XJR >

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