A supercharged V-8 with 550 horsepower would seem to be an engine aimed at the hooligan crowd, but not if it’s under the sculpted hood of the new Jaguar XJR. True, this potent performer is shared with Jaguar’s two new extroverted muscle cars, the XFR-S and XKR-S GT. Unlike those two, however, the XJR is a luxury car first and a performance machine second.
A familiar nameplate
XJR is a designation that has been absent from the Jaguar lineup since the departure of the previous-generation XJ. The most sporting big Jag is available both as a standard-wheelbase or long-wheelbase sedan. Although Jaguar has recently introduced all-wheel drive on the XJ, it’s not available here.
No boy-racer here
Replacing the 510-hp XJ Supersports, the XJR is identified by its deeper front air dam with chrome-rimmed air intakes, black mesh grille, subtle side sills and trunk lid spoiler, and Farallon twenty-inch wheels wrapped in low-profile summer performance rubber (Pirelli P-Zeros, sized 295/30ZR20 and 265/35ZR20). The overall visual presentation is subtle. So, too, is the interior. Our test car was fitted with carbon-fiber trim on the doors and dash, with piano black on the center console, along with the available two-tone leather seats with contrast stitching — nearly all of which is available on other XJs. Inside and out, there’s nothing boy-racer about the XJR.
The same can be said of the way it drives. The ultra-wide tires can be noisy on rough pavement, but that’s about the only downside to the XJR’s more aggressive chassis. Compared to lesser XJs, the XJR has thirty percent stiffer springs and retuned steering, along with improved brake cooling. The hydraulically assisted steering is pleasantly progressive and direct but not heavy. The chassis feels tied-down but not harsh; the XJR is merely stable and composed.
Big car, big speed
Even the amped-up V-8 remains largely muted. It may go about its business quietly, but the supercharged V-8 is plenty effective. Pumping out 502 pound-feet of torque — 41 more than the next-most-powerful version of the supercharged V-8 — it can send this big sedan from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. It’s also a devastatingly effective passing machine, instantly gunning from a dawdling 55 or 60 up to triple-digit speeds. In fact, this car is deceptively fast, and has a real penchant for triple-digit speeds, topping out at 174 mph. At the same time, the XJR’s 15/23 mpg EPA ratings are good enough to avoid the gas-guzzler tax.
The 550-hp engine pushes the R to the most aggressive end of the XJ spectrum, but this careful execution of the big Jag commendably doesn’t try to push things too far. The XJR feels very much at home in the XJ family, with its good manners fully intact.
2014 Jaguar XJR
- On sale: September
- Price: $116,895/$119,895 (swb/lwb)
- Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V-8
- Power: 550 hp @ 6500 rpm
- Torque: 502 lb-ft @ 2500â5500 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Drive: Rear-wheel
- Tires (f,r): 265/35 ZR20, 295/30ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero
- Fuel Economy: 15/23 mpg