Jaguar XJR Car Review – Motor Point
Jaguar XJR Road Test
Anyone who drives this 390 horsepower Jaguar is going to think of that overused phrase steel fist in a velvet glove. But this Jaguar is no ordinary glove. This one is color coordinated with a soft lining and leather trim. And the steel has been replaced by aluminum. In other words this may be a fast Jaguar but it is foremost an elegant looking Jaguar that can melt the heart of lady folk and make stern men envious. Of course all this comes at a price of AUD$219000 nicely adorned with GPS and 20-inch state-coach like wheels.
How do I love thee let me count the ways. I know the Lexus LS is a better deal with more features and more room. I know the BMW 7 Series is better handling. I know the Infiniti Q45 has more gizmos. I know the Audi S8L has all wheel drive and more backseat room. And I don’t care. I want the Jaguar XJ and if it has the supercharged 4.2-liter engine just that much the better. You can tease me with a Mercedes and tempt me with a Porsche but nothing says I love you better than a Jaguar leaper in your driveway and the keys in your purse. I believe I have made myself clear.
Okay back to reality. Safety-wise all XJRs come standard with four-piston Brembo brakes ABS BrakeAssist and electronic stability traction control side-impact and head curtain airbags front and rear seatbelt pre-tensioners and we had the optional rear-obstacle-detection system which worked exceptional well. The best I have ever used. The brakes are nearly as good as those in a BMW but have a softer feel and sometimes feel grabby just before the car stops. Sort of like a Hybrid which uses the halting energy to regenerate its batteries or a Mercedes with the new anticipation braking option. I even found the steering feel soft almost Lexus like. This removes this girl from the canyon runner category and places it firmly in grand touring territory thankfully. I mean I don’t even feel it is right for Jaguar to bring out a station wagon which they apparently are going to do because of the elegancy this new model exudes. If cornering is your forte go to the Jaguar S with the same engine and sharper reactions. Interestingly this smaller Jaguar weighs slightly more and has a larger trunk and costs significantly less. To me the S is also a good looking car but the elegance is missing.
The all new XJ has been made over and its shows. It is longer taller and easier to live with. No more J shift gate that frustrated me for years. This model has both manual and automatic modes. Unfortunately you can not get it into first gear in the manual mode. Speaking of which it is nearly impossible to tell what gear you are in when shifting for yourself because there is so little feel in the lever. In addition the shift pattern is strange. You pull backwards to go forward through the gears. Yes it is much better than the J shift pattern of yore but it still needs work.
Of course the car looks sensational. Long and wide and fairly low but not like the previous models where you felt like you were sitting on the highway. You can just slide into the new Jaguar XJ without having to drop into the seat as in days of yore.
Looks wise the expensive 20-inch rims make this car even more striking. I marveled at the British Racing Green paint that changed shades as the sun’s rays reflected off of it in a dramatic and nearly breathtaking manner. Unfortunately the larger rims come with very low profile tires that can take a pounding if you live in the midst of potholes.
The interior is very well done. More modest than previous models this Jaguar has a very readable center monitor for the GPS that is fairly easy to master. However the driver’s computer readouts in the main dash pad are very small as are the speedometer and tachometer. This is a mistake by Jaguar as this is a very fast car and you can not easily tell if you are going 70 or 100 km/h by looking at the speedometer. And make no mistake about it you are not going to be able to tell how fast you are going by the noise level either because this is a quiet ride. I won’t hesitate to say that you could easily be doubling the speed limit before you felt wary. At least that’s the excuse I’m using. Some people might not like the more “subdued” look of the Jaguar’s interior treatment which is famous for wood leather and chrome adornments. I missed it too but the new look made me feel more like I was driving a car than sitting in my living room.
There were some odd bits. It took me a while to figure out the parking brake. The release is a little pull knob on the center console. And the center console moves back to reveal two nicely behaved cupholders. The headlights have an automatic on setting and when you enter a garage or tunnel the HID units jump to life. I appreciated the full size spare under the trunk panel and next to the battery and the low lift over height made loading easy. The trunk also houses the GPS memory unit. Unfortunately it needed to be updated and it was not as accurate as other units.
When I opened the thick driver’s door I felt there was something wrong. If this was a Mercedes or BMW I would feel overpowered by the weight. This was not the case with the Jaguar where the aluminum construction and well weighted hinges made it easier even when the car was parked on an incline. Driving away I started out slowly and noticed that there was no evidence of aggressive behavior that frequently exists when piloting other high strung supercars. It was as gentle well as a kitten. Than I stepped on its tail and it reacted with a sharp downshift from the transmission and a refined purr from the engine. If Harley Davidson thinks that the loud blipping of their engines is copyrightable Jaguar should have no problem with the sensual whine of this sweetheart. A few hours behind the wheel revealed that this Jaguar is soft in the corners when compared to the true hot rods of the luxury set the BMW M5 and Mercedes E55. But neither of these offer the XJR’s visual allure and both are more sensitive to acceleration inputs. The Jaguar takes a moment to pull up her skirt before rushing down the way in a rapid but dignified manner.
In addition the pedals seats and steering wheel had motors that moved them at your command. This was a real pleasure. You get used to accepting a pedal position but once you drive this Jaguar you are going to find that you don’t have to take the factory default settings. I moved the pedals up about an inch and my body felt much more relaxed while driving. It was impressive.
Young Working Woman’s view
The seats are delicious. The steering wheel feels wonderful. The forward view over the leaping Jaguar is almost anachronistic. Of course I could have used more trunk room as this model only had 16.4 cubic feet. And I sort of miss all the funny little tricks that other cars in this price range have but the mirrors that fold in and the rear window screen were nice touches. There is a significant blind spot created by the smallish rear view mirrors and the high trunk and so you must be very aware of your hindquarters and that is exactly what I mean.
This might be difficult to understand but it is very difficult to evaluate a vehicle such as this supercharged Jaguar. The reason is simple. It is difficult to separate the effective domain from the cognitive evidence. When you walk out the door of a store and see it in the parking lot surrounding by gas hoggish SUVs raised trucks and buzzy compact cars the Green Goddess looked so elegant I had to stop and admire the contrast. This Jaguar is why people work long hours have trouble separating wants from needs and when all else fails lease. Yes it has shortcomings. The chassis flexes a bit too much over bumps the transmission takes a second too long to kick down and the dash fonts are too small. But nothing can rival the feel this Jaguar imparts. The way the seat pedals and steering wheel can be adjusted. You can even get more support for your thighs as the bottom of the seat can extent. All four windows are one-touch up and down and there is a power-operated shade for the rear window. The trunk lid does not open wide enough when you use the remote. You have to stick your hand underneath the lower ledge where the rear bumper is the dirtiest. Closing it is no problem as Jaguar offers a soft-touch close. And for those long trips which are where this Jaguar excels you have a 22.5-gallon tank making 400-mile non-stop journeys possible.
After time with this Jaguar I doubt that there are few people who can honestly not feel a little envy when this vehicle crosses their path. Fortunately for the owner of the XJR this image is more than classic looks. I found the sound of the supercharged engine absolutely addicting. Just a touch of the toe was enough to excite my aural senses as the V8′s supercharger produced a muted roar not unlike a jet liner during take-off. Magic. The brakes were superb. The Brembo units are huge and all business. In fact my real worry was in giving those in back of this Jaguar enough room for them to stop safety because few cars in the world have this ability to halt 4000 pounds so rapidly.
What I question is whether or not you need the supercharged engine and the extras that go with it. The standard if that could possible be the term for the XJ8 Jaguar has 294 horsepower a 6-speed automatic transmission traction control the same safety features dual-zone automatic climate controls interior air filter power steering power tilt/telescoping wood/leather-wrapped steering wheel w/radio controls cruise control leather upholstery 12-way power front bucket seats power-adjustable pedals memory system (driver seat mirrors steering wheel pedals) center console cupholders wood interior trim heated power mirrors w/automatic day/night power windows power door locks power sunroof AM/FM/CD player analog clock tachometer trip computer automatic day/night rearview mirror compass rear defogger illuminated visor mirrors map lights rain-sensing variable-intermittent wipers and automatic headlights. You pay a lot more for the supercharged version. Yes you get to 100km/h a second faster but you must be rational. Of course if you have a drop of red blood in your blue veins a black supercharged version would make everyone green except your financial advisor who would probably turn white because the insurance of this model is significant. In other words as a businesswoman there is no way to justify the need for such a vehicle. However I really would like one just to give me some instant gratification when the coffee buzz wears off. All I have to do is look down on this Jaguar patiently purring in the parking lot to know the rewards of risk.
This Jaguar is a player. In fact if the reliability continues to be outstanding they are now rated in the top ten this new aluminum monocoque constructed sedan might become acceptable to those smitten by the Teutonic Plaque. Since Jaguar is using an industrial first rivet-bonding construction epoxy adhesives in constructing this alluring machine they have s stiffer chassis. Although I would like even more rigidity those who ride the highways well welcome the cushioned coach. To help mollify the cruisers and the bruisers Jaguar uses an air suspension Computer Active Technology Suspension system that can slightly raise of lower the vehicle to improve aerodynamic efficiency vehicle stability and fuel economy during high-speed cruising. The six-speed automatic transmission is above average but not great. It still takes a while for it to think before dropping down a gear or two and the shifter is very difficult to use in a hurry as the indentations for each gear—first gear starts are not allowed in manual mode-are too shallow. To me the transmission and the tire noise were the two areas of most concern as well as the lack of headroom in the backseat. Of course I had a lot more concerns with the Jaguar’s competitors from Mercedes BMW Infiniti and Lexus.
Under the bonnet is an incredible smooth 4.2-liter V8 that seems unaffected by the demands of carrying two tons of aluminum steel leather chrome and wood trim as well as four adults and get you to 100 km in the five second range thanks to the puff power of a Eaton supercharger. Most of this power is at your disposal from 2000 rpm up. Torque well there is 399 lb ft of it and you still can easily get 20 mpg on premium thanks to 2.87:1 rear gearing. Imagine how quick this Jaguar would be with a 4:11 set.
Although the engine is potent I was more impressed by the Brembo braking system. Get this there are 14.4 x 1.26 ventilated discs with Brembo aluminum four-piston calipers embossed with the Jaguar R Performance logo in front and solid 13 x .59 discs in back. Do you realize that a decade ago 14-inch wheels were standard on compact cars and now Jaguar has brakes that large! Just make sure your brake lights are working.
In terms of seating I gave the XJR mixed reviews. The seats can be adjusted 16 ways and you get front and rear heated seats but my rear send just did not fit. I felt I was sitting on the seat more than in it but I’m sure if Jaguar would let us test it for a month or so I could compress it to my dimensions.
Young working man’s view
The Alpine audio is excellent but the reception is inferior. You have controls in the center monitor touch screen as well as the steering wheel and they were easy to master. The radar-based adaptive cruise control worked well and should be required of all upper statesman vehicles. We didn’t get to see it in action but Jaguar offers a rear-seat entertainment system with an LCD screen in the back of each front headrest. Other options were the heated front and rear seats a navigation system with available voice activation and a 4-zone automatic climate control. You can also order heated rear seats and the rear headrests are adjustable. In other words this is a nice mixture of performance and panache.
Driving this babe magnet is interesting. You get a different type of reaction from those attentive. The Jaguar looks attract even those unfamiliar with cars. You have to value sophistication and charm rather than the mockery and mayhem images other vehicles project and of course you don’t get the attention of those who foolishly frolic at the sight of kidney shaped grills. No this Jaguar says mature driver who just likes to live life with class. If that means shutting down some upstart in a coffee canned exhaust cut and thrust youngster so be it.
When driving the Jaguar I wanted more feel in the steering and a less body lean. When I hit a bumpy section of road the suspension sent a shudder through the XJR that was not appropriate. The chassis sort of felt nervous. You could almost hear it say “How dare they leave that blemish in the road when they know I use it.” Another area where tradition has overcome common sense is with the ignition key. This sharp and thin key is difficult to get into the ignition at night or if you are in a hurry and is expensive to replace. Speaking of night the headlights are excellent.
Would I buy one? Certainly. The Lexus LS would be my second choice and we have not tested the new BMW 5-Series yet. But none of these offer the allure of the Jaguar. I would be hard pressed to pay the extra funds for the supercharged model though as the XJ is very well priced coming in at nearly the same cost as an E-Class Mercedes. Naw get the big boy and keep it in sports mode.
If you can afford the XJR you are certainly going to enjoy its company. There are faster cars better handling cars and better values but they are not Jaguars. A noted female automobile writer Denise McCluggage once wrote that two of the nicest sounding words in the English language were “My Ferrari.” The Car Family believes that from our aspect the best words might be “It’s my turn to drive the supercharged Jaguar.” Enough said.
Good points: Drive train exterior seats spectator reactions.
Needs improvement: Visibility handling gauges cost brake feel.
Written by The Car Family
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