Jaguar XJR: the world's most talented limo this month. Photo Gallery
Paul Pottinger road tests and reviews the Jaguar XJR at its international launch.
Four door cats fly fast too. Especially big ones. As the F-Type, Jaguar's first sports car in half a century sears itself onto lists of the world's most desirable automobiles, the Indian-owned Brit marque feels the need to revisit its remit and remind us that its four-doors are capable of a bit more than touring grandly.
You probably needn't go as far as the scenic roads and a race track of rural Washington, as we did, to see that the XJR is another blow to the decidedly first world dilemma of what weekend car to buy. The R badged version of Jag's flagship is a 24/7, all types of hardtop, proposition.
At near $300,000 plus on-roads (wonder what that good mate of carmakers, Tony Abbott, will do about the luxury car tax?), the fastest XJ to date sits south of the rival Benz S63 and Maserati Quattroporte.
The R car is by any measure (not least length - 5.12 metres in the "short" wheelbase version) a lot of limo. The extra ask brings the full guts and glory version of Jaguar/LandRover's 5.0-litre supercharged V8, functional not merely visual go fast kit, smokey 20-inch alloys and bespoke interior.
At a level where value is in the eye of a select few beholders, the Jaguar stands apart. Jaguars always have, but no longer at the cost of inconvenience. A marque that was until recently venerated more for its heritage than contemporary reality has retained its first place rating in JD Powers' customer satisfaction survey.
The unexpurgated 404kW/680Nm tune of the blown aluminium V8 is enhanced here by powertrain and exhaust calibrations to deliver output hotter and sooner. It attains 100km/h from standing in 4.6 seconds, 80 to 120 in 2.46. A close ratio slightly bespoke version of ZF's eight speed auto is so quick, so intuitive, that piddling with the paddle shifters - even on a track - simply gets in the way. This godly box is way smarter and quicker than a mortal.
Those 20-inch alloys provide both visual stimulation and a home to purpose made Pirellis - 265/30 and 295/30 front to rear. But such is the mechanical grip you'll not often stress the rubber. Adaptive Dynamics, an active electronic differential and very simpatico stability control curtail clumsiness and complement competence.
Indeed on first world roads, as opposed to ours, dynamic mode is the preferred manual selection - damping is appreciably tightened but the ride is entirely compliant. Carmakers make much of using aluminium but it's not until you're at play in an 1800kg saloon that can dance with a much smaller four door that you begin to appreciate the ability and agility this material bestows.
As one who stumbles over and confuses Jaguar's X designations, I wonder if the XJR isn't a candidate for another consonant, for a Q car it surely is. The standard XJ is almost too subtle and such embellishments as distinguish the R version are all about understatement - a ‘R’ spec side sills, bootlid spoiler, bonnet louvres, and chrome touches.
Nor does the interior shouts luxury so much as assuming it. The fusty gentleman's club ambience of old isn't there in detail, but somehow survives in ambience - you could never imagine you're ensconced in German or Italian job. R logos and stitching in either red or tan distinguish it from the standard XJ.
Count the stars by all means, but active safety is the story here. There's no point in pushing output in you can't get it down and the electronic differential can apply full locking torque almost instantaneously and its calibrated to get the most out of the wide rear tyres in conjunction with output. It stops straight and true from more than 200kmh courtesy of the mighty hi-po braking system with ventilated 380mm and 376mm discs front to rear.
Carsguide gets into the S63 AMG in a few weeks, so it'll be fascinating to see if our impression of the XJR is supplanted, because for now at least this has to be the most talented limo known to humanity.
Crushing country kilometres at a ridiculously relaxed lope one moment, then slicing cleanly between apexes of one of the most technical tracks we've encountered, you have to ask: "Can it be the same car?"
It's convincing in either deployment, the always correct auto keeping that tidal wave of torque ever present. It makes for both eye blink overtaking exposures and withering straight runs. Refinement though is ever to the fore. It's quite possible for a front seat passenger to be lulled to sleep while the helmsman is fully engaged. That helm weights up almost imperceptibly but meaningfully with speed and fitness of bend.
The world's most talented limo this month.
Price: from $298,000
Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8; 404kW/680Nm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic; RWD
0 to 100kmh: 4.6 seconds
Top speed: 280km/h
Price: from $392,400
Engine: 5.5L twin turbo V8, 400kW/800Nm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic, RWD
Thirst: 10.6L/100km, 247g/km CO2
Price: from $288,000 (estimated)
Engine: 3.8L twin-turbo V8 petrol, 390kW/650Nm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, RWD
Thirst: 10.5L/100km, CO2 244g/km
Price: from $189,545 (LS460)
Engine: 4.6L V8 petrol, 285kW/493Nm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, RWD
Thirst: 10.7L/100km, 249g/km CO2