When I drove the 2014 Jaguar XJR Long Wheelbase at Ridge Motorsports Park (an hour outside of Tacoma, Washington) last year, I was impressed with the big cat’s strong acceleration and nimble chassis. At the time, we weren’t able to put the 550-hp premium sedan through our standard battery of tests, but now we have test numbers on the standard-wheelbase 2014 Jaguar XJR.
After driving the XJR Long Wheelbase on the track, we suspected Jaguar’s estimate of 4.4 seconds to 60 mph was a bit conservative. Not just because of its strong acceleration, but also because a 470-hp 2013 XJL Supercharged on all-season tires reached 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds (12.8 seconds at 115.0 mph), while an older XJL Supercharged with the six-speed automatic and summer tires reached 60 mph in 4 seconds flat (12.3 seconds at 116.3 mph).
Jaguar’s supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 makes an additional 80 hp and 78 lb-ft of torque than the XJL Supercharged. With 550 hp and 502 lb-ft, the rear-drive XJR reached 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds and cleared the quarter mile in 12.1 seconds at 117.5 mph. Although only a few ticks quicker than the XJL Supercharged, the XJR can run free up to its electronically limited top speed of 174 mph — 19 mph higher than less-powerful supercharged V-8 models.
Not only quicker than its lesser brethren, the XJR is also comparable to its German competitors. The 520-hp 2014 Audi S8 ($113,395) and all-wheel-drive 577-hp 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 4MATIC sedan ($140,425) hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds(11.8 seconds at 118.3 mph) and 3.7 seconds (12.1 seconds at 115.5 mph), respectively, while the 540-hp 2013 BMW Alpina B7 ($133,125) hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds (12.6 seconds at 113.6 mph).
The Jaguar XJR also impressed on the handling course. Fitted with 20-inch Pirelli P Zero tires (265/35 front, 295/30 rear), the 550-hp Jag lapped the figure eight in 24.8 seconds at 0.79 g average and pulled 0.91 g average around the skidpad. For comparison, the 2013 XJL Supercharged went around our figure-eight test in 26.0 seconds at 0.76 g average. That’s the same time as the summer-tire-equipped car, but with a 0.05 g higher average.
In comparison, the S63 AMG 4MATIC lapped the figure eight in 25.0 seconds at 0.79 g average and pulled 0.91 g on the skidpad, while the S8 completed the figure eight in 25.1 seconds at 0.79 g average and pulled 0.90 g on the skidpad, and the Alpina B7 did it in 25.8 seconds at 0.75 g average and 0.89 g average.
Braking from 60 mph takes just 99 feet, thanks to the wide Pirelli tires and 15-inch front and 14.6-inch rear discs. That’s 21 feet shorter than the 2013 XJL Supercharged on all-season tires and 11 feet shorter than the XJL Supercharged with summer tires. The E63 AMG 4MATIC took 100 feet to stop from 60 mph, while the Alpina B7 and S8 took 104 feet and 107 feet, respectively.
In order to achieve those numbers, Jaguar has fitted the XJR with more than just extra power. Although the F-Type’s Quickshift technology is reserved for R-S models, the XJR’s eight-speed automatic transmission gets a sportier tune than the 470-hp (Supercharged) and 510-hp (Supersport, Ultimate) models. In automatic mode, the transmission uses acceleration, braking, and steering inputs to determine shift speed, shift points, and how long to hold a gear. A manual mode with paddle shifters gives the driver more control over shifts. Automatic start/stop is standard.
Jaguar didn’t neglect the suspension tuning, either. The revised springs and dampers increase high-speed handling and stability without sacrificing ride comfort, even with the lightweight 20-inch Farallon gray-finished forged alloy wheels and low-profile tires. The F-Type roadster’s custom valving was used to quicken the steering. Jaguar also revised the active electronic differential and Dynamic Stability Control systems to work with the retuned suspension and steering. Other performance pieces include subtle aerodynamic bits such as hood louvers that also aid in cooling, unique side sills, and a functional rear lip spoiler.
While the 550-hp sedan’s track performance and test numbers look good on paper, most XJRs will spend most of their time on the street. With its quiet ride and a tamer exhaust than the machine gunfire of the F-Type, the XJR is easy to creep above posted limits: 60 mph feels like 25 mph. A 190-mph speedometer with 110 mph straight up also throws off your general sense of speed. Fortunately, the 12.3-inch high-definition virtual instrument cluster features a speedometer spotlight that highlights the numbers closest to the needle to quickly keep tabs on road speed. Partial throttle is all that is required for quickly passing slower traffic. On back roads, the 550-hp Jaguar XJR can hold its own against classic and modern musclecars.
With an as-tested price of $118,585 ($116,895 base price), our XJR tester is competitively priced against its German counterparts. (The XJR Long Wheelbase model is $3000 more.) EPA-rated fuel economy is also competitive: The 550-hp Jaguar XJR is rated 15/23 mpg city/highway, which matches the S63 AMG 4MATIC’s, but trails the S8’s highway rating by 3 mpg and the Alpina B7’s 16/25 mpg rating.
Our XJR’s Osmium paint (a light silver blue) is offset by the dark gray finish wheels. Inside, London Tan stitching contrasts with the Jet Black leather and Piano Black trim. Standard features include HID headlights and LED taillights; panoramic roof, soft close doors, 18-way front seats and heated and cooled front and rear seats; 825-watt Meridian audio system with navigation, Bluetooth, and rearview camera; and alarm with engine immobilizer, keyless entry, and remote start. The Illumination Package ($1700), which consists of lighted door and trunk sills and illuminated air vents, was the only option.
A few small complaints: The heated and cooled seats can’t be used simultaneously (as on the S-Class) and the XJ Supercharged model’s five-setting massage seats ($800) aren’t available on the XJR. The touch-screen navigation/infotainment system is easy to use, but requires more eyes-off-the-road attention than a simple iDrive-style controller would. On the other hand, the Meridian audio system provides rich, full sound regardless of music genre.
While the Jaguar XJR isn’t available with as much of the latest gee-whiz technology as the S-Class (or S8), it offers competitive performance and a finely crafted Old World interior wrapped in a sleek and sexy body. That’s something its German rivals can’t match. The Jaguar XJR is for the driver who wants to be coddled blasting down the autobahn at triple-digit speeds.
|2014 Jaguar XJR|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$118,595|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||5.0L/550-hp/502-lb-ft supercharged DOHC 32-valve V-8|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4298 lb (51/49%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||201.9 x 74.6 x 57.3 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.8 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||12.1 sec @ 117.5 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||99 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.91 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||24.8 sec @ 0.79 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||15/23/18 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||225/147 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||1.09 lb/mile|