Jaguar’s XJR brings British luxury to the big, super-sports sedan
Not a small part of Tesla’s
Model S charm is its ability to accelerate with the unbridled alacrity that’s nearly equal to big, expensive rivals from major automakers. Of course if you repeatedly drive a Model S like you stole it, your range will vanish before your smiling eyes. Then again, zero to 60 mph specifications are more often the subject of cocktail conversation than the likelihood of owners engaging in launch control at every stoplight.
The Silicon Valley maker of electric vehicles knew that luxury sedan buyers wanted more than green credentials; they required style and performance as part of the driving experience. It’s a formula that is evident when you encounter an AMG S-Class, BMW B7 Alpina, or Audi S8, all big luxury sedans that are race-tuned for blistering speed. Now Jaguar is delighted to throw its big cat into this ring with acceleration (zero to 60 in 4.4 seconds) and top speed (174 mph) that’s more than competitive.
Building a high-performance luxury sedan has its challenges, but is hardly witchcraft for an automaker with scale and a bank balance. And at an average base MSRP of $125,000 with lots of big-ticket options available, selling big, powerful, and posh motorcars can be a profitable endeavor. In Jaguar’s XJR offering, the feeling of raw performance balanced with sumptuous style and detail separates this big cat from German rivals.
The XJR crouches low and long over its standard 20-inch wheels and Pirelli performance tires. Functional hood louvers, lower air splitters, and a subtle yet purposeful rear spoiler add to the sedan’s assertive appearance. Big red brake calipers clamping on vented rotors are easily visible through the slender spokes of special “Farallon” alloy wheels. And in contrast to a macho demeanor, chrome adds a nice touch of jewelry.
Jaguar’s British notion of luxury continues inside, with semi-aniline leather in bold colors contrasting with black and carbon fiber accents. The real treat for me was the center console, vents, and switchgear reminiscent of ultra luxury cars from Bentley and Rolls-Royce. That’s a welcome contrast to the more Teutonic sensibility of German rivals.
Hang Up and Drive
Of course the reason most people pay north of $100,000 for high performance large luxury is the driving experience. And in that sporting category, the XJR shines brightly. Its aluminum construction gives the Jaguar a 600-pound weight advantage over its rivals, so the big car feels lighter on its feet. Yet at just over 4,000 pounds curb weight, there’s still plenty of substance afoot.
While turbocharging has greatly improved over the last decade and is embraced by its rivals, Jaguar’s supercharged power is always on tap and the eight-speed transmission finds the best sweet spot with light throttle tip in. And when your right foot is all in, the feeling is not unlike being shot from a cannon. This is one fun car to drive.
So if you wish to pack up the whole family for a hair-raising journey, this is your machine. Or perhaps with more prudence, your XJR is the car that can cosset passengers when required, then pin its ears back on a twisty road when you’re solo. Hard to lose either way. BRIAN DOUGLAS
Photography courtesy of Jaguar