2014 Jaguar XJR Review

Quicker around Yas Marina than an Aston Martin? Is this the ultimate superlimo?

By Fraser Martin

2014 Jaguar XJR

Many moons ago, I used to don anorak and woolly hat and hang around forest stages listening to rally cars zooming in and out of flashbulbs. Amongst the rallies I regularly attended was the Scottish RAC. This event was based in Glasgow and the opening Spectator Stage (before such things became de rigueur) was held around the tarmac and grass of Bellahouston Park on the city’s south side. The Course Opening Car for the Spectator Stage was the Lord Provost’s Rolls Royce Phantom V Limousine – with the Lord Provost strapped firmly in the back, and his own demonic driver in the front.

2014 Jaguar XJR

I do not think I have ever seen a more cumbersome and less appropriate car in such a wholly inappropriate setting, so when the black Jaguar XJR rolled out of the Pit Garages at Yas a couple of months back as my High Speed Passenger Lap car for the Jaguar Customer Experience days, I felt some trepidation about piloting a long-wheelbase limousine round a very quick part of the Yas circuit. I was fairly certain that I would not lose the back bumper (as the Glasgow Lord Provost’s driver had at Bellahouston Park) but there was a concern that progress would be far too dignified to be described as entertainment.

2014 Jaguar XJR

Not so. The Jaguar XJR is lighter than the smaller XFR, being made almost entirely of aluminium and in spite of being available here only in long wheelbase form, it still tips the scales well below any similar extended wheelbase top segment executive car. It is lighter than an Audi A8, a Mercedes S Class, a BMW 7 Series, any Cadillac and everything from Japan or Korea in the segment. Contributing to the general merriment is Jaguar’s peachy 5.0-litre, supercharged V8 with sports exhaust, the latest 8-speed electronic transmission, active differential control and 20-inch lightweight rims with very fat, black rubbery bits: the observant amongst you will begin to notice that the realms of limousine-land are starting to get a bit blurred round the edges…

2014 Jaguar XJR

 

For a limousine, and let’s not forget that the long wheelbase means an extra 125mm in the back, the XJR is indecently quick. It will knock off 100kph in under five seconds, top out at a limited 250kph and employ every single one of its 550 horses to get you there as quickly as most sports cars. And it will do that with more of you inside it, holding on to your kidneys, as the irrepressible 680Nm of torque tries to force all four of you out of the back window. This Jaguar is faster round Yas North than their Aston Race Cars, and you can still listen to the stereo whilst you’re about it.

2014 Jaguar XJR

All very well, you may say, squirting round a race track at silly speeds, yelping into corners and pounding down the straights, but it would be a foolish man indeed, who would stoop to such tomfoolery out on the open road. And you would be right – but having had the opportunity to try beauty and the beast over the few weeks, it illustrates what a car like the XJR is really all about.

2014 Jaguar XJR

A number of people asked, whilst the car was in my tenure, why Jaguar is offering a car that is so quick, so fast and so relentless in its pulling power, when as a limousine, just like the ones you see on BBC News, depositing the great and the good outside Number 10 Downing Street, its real job is to waft four or five people along in luxury and ease? Well, the answer is because Jaguar can, and they are entitled to show us how, because it has been quite a long time since they were able to do so in this segment of the market.

2014 Jaguar XJR

The turnaround in Jaguar’s fortunes that started with the XF and its variations, and continues with the F-Type and its associated models, has helped to illustrate how far Jaguar has come in terms of quality, reliability and power delivery. The XJR showcases all that can be done, reviving the old Jaguar ad headline of ‘Grace, Space and Pace’ in a parody of understatement. The XJR is just as much at home on the daily commute, burbling along at a whisker below the speed limit, as it is rip-snorting its way, marginally sideways, round a racing circuit.

2014 Jaguar XJR

And curiously, knowing that all that is possible, there is no real necessity to demonstrate it. Pottering about, using the car as a daily driver, you are never pestered by boy racers in be-lettered German toys: a nod of acknowledgement to a well-fed big cat, dozing on a jungle footpath is all that is expected of lesser breeds in a rush. It also keeps them from being eaten!

2014 Jaguar XJR

As the flagship car in the Jaguar lineup, there are other unique features in the XJR. Premium materials swathe the interior, bespoke patterns and colours keep the cockpit sharp without being gaudy and all important offices are met, from the 825watt Meridian Surround Sound system to air-conditioned seats front and rear. As an illustration of the XJRs pinnacle position, there are only three optional extras available and they are all included in the cars brought here.

2014 Jaguar XJR

Externally, there are mild styling tweaks to the already well-established Callum-designed four door fastback body – a re-profiled sill here, a discreet spoiler there and a few extra inlets and outlets to help with aerodynamics and menace. Some of the shiny bits on lesser models are now black, and some of the black bits are now shiny, but the overall effect really is of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, albeit a particularly large and well-shorn sheep. The visual changes are pleasing without being too aggressive or looking like the car has been put on steroids – there is a lot of car here to understate, but it has been done subtly.

2014 Jaguar XJR

Running to a shade over Dhs.600,000 as presented here, the Jaguar XJR is not a cheap option. But the quality of fit and finish, the barely disguised rawness of the power and the sheer presence of the car, particularly in black, make it a strikingly plausible proposition, at about half the price of the nearest Bentley, and a far more interesting and involving daily drive than almost anything from the Big 3 in Germany. I’m not convinced there is anyone else in the picture really.

2014 Jaguar XJR

2014 Jaguar XJR – The Specs

Price: AED610,000 ($166k)
Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8, 550bhp @ 6500rpm, 501lb ft @ 2500rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, Rear-wheel drive
Fuel Economy: 11.6L/100km
Performance: 0-100kph 4.9 seconds, Top speed 250kph
Gross Weight: 1870kg

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