16 August 2013 - 16:30
Car review: Jaguar XJR
By ANDREW CHESTERTON
So, what is it?
It's an XJ, alright, just not as you know it. Same cigar-lounge vibe and Chesterfield comfort as the regular sedan, only this one screams to 100km/h in 4.6secs. That makes it the fastest luxury sedan ever produced by Jaguar. It also makes it somewhat ludicrous, which is probably why we like it so much.
Should I care?
Got a lazy $300,000 lying about? Planning on pulling off some sort of daring heist? Or knocking off a rich grandparent? If not, then the XJR probably won't stray onto your radar. But you should take comfort in the knowledge that cars like this exist at all. In a world of shrinking oil reserves and skyrocketing luxury car and big-engine taxes, the fact Jag's willing to jam a supercharged V8 into their most luxurious of limos should be applauded.
Sure, but how does it drive?
Like the suspension's been filled with melted marshmallow goo. Like there are goose-down feathers in the tyres. Like it's actually hovering six inches above the road surface. Really, it's among the smoothest-riding cars on the market. Vulgar road surfaces are absorbed and disposed of quietly, like when a hobo wanders into a silver-service restaurant. Even the gentle thud created when a curious driver starts deliberately running over obstacles (sorry Jag) barely invades the cabin. It's impressive.
Soft suspension, hey? So it corners like Gina Rinehart, then?
Actually, it handles amazingly well for a car this big and heavy and comfortable. Stick it in Dynamic mode, shift to Sport and take control of the eight-speed box via the flappy paddles and this English Lord transforms into a Pikey bare-knuckle brawler. It can't hide its weight entirely, though; especially through the tight stuff. But it sits flat through most bends, then rockets out of them with such an awesome surge or power that you're left smiling regardless.
Think fine-art museum meets old-world opium den. The leather is melted-butter soft, the dash is all polished metal and wood-panelled luxury, and even the dead space between the steering wheel and the windscreen has been lovingly wrapped in leather, finishing with a crafted lip, a lovely R propped in the middle. It's lovely.
Oh, and the button to open the glovebox senses when your finger approaches. This is possibly the most awesome thing ever.
Tell me about the engine.
This one's the big boy of the Jag range, a monstrous 5.0-litre Supercharged V8 that spits (in a civilised way, of course) out 404kW and 680Nm. That's enough grunt to drag the XJR to 100km/h in 4.6secs and on to 280km/h. But it does it in such a civilised way, like the Jag's not really into attempting something so uncouth, but if sir insists then it'll give it a shot.
A final word, then?
It's a bit like that guy from American Psycho, trying desperately to give the impression of high-flying normality while hiding a dark, dark secret. The Jag's definitely straddling the line between luxury and sport, but it achieves both so effortlessly that neither side suffers as a result. It's a valid and pleasingly non-German option in the luxo-sport segment.
Specs: 5.0-litre supercharged V8, 5000cc, 404kW, 680Nm, eight-speed automatic, 0-100km/h: 4.6secs, max: 280km/h
For the full review, pick up the next issue of TopGear Australia magazine