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Jaguar XJR 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
7.5
Jaguar's XJ has been on sale for ages, but with the addition of a few bits and bobs, it's as compelling as ever. Most importantly, the performance-focused R has kept its unique supercharged V8.

As a child, my parents - who aren't car people - would see a Jaguar and point. It didn't matter if it was an XJ, Daimler Double Six or a Mark II, there was a great deal of mystique around these bastions of Britishness. It also didn't matter that these weren't necessarily good cars. The Seventies and Eighties saw the brand slide into a funk while being passed between owners like hot potatoes.

Somehow, the brand survived its brush with Ford's useless Premier Automotive Group strategy which only came good towards the end as Jaguar's management woke up and put in place a change in direction that produced the Ian Callum-designed XF. Riding high on that design, Jaguar then promptly introduced the very pretty Jaguar XJ.

It has been on sale for ages, but with the addition of a few bits and bobs to stay competitive, it's as compelling as ever. Most importantly, the performance-focused R has kept its unique supercharged V8.

Jaguar XJ 2017: R 5.0 SC SWB
Safety rating
Engine Type5.0L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency11.6L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$204,050

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

The XJ has a marvellously exaggerated length, with a rear overhang redolent of Jag's sporting coupe and roadster pair of the time of its launch, the XK. There's nothing else in the segment like it, with the three Germans - Mercedes' S-Class, Audi's A8 and BMW's 7 Series - having gone all Hugo Boss and and in the latter two's case, almost shrinking violet. The only credible Japanese alternative, the Lexus LS, looks like a Lexused 7 Series. The XJR is a more emotional car, like Maserati's Quattroporte.

  • Standard are LED headlights, DRLs, auto wipers and headlights. (Image credit: Max Klamus) Standard are LED headlights, DRLs, auto wipers and headlights. (Image credit: Max Klamus)
  • Rear seat passengers should be prepared to feel a lot of wheelslip, especially when in Dynamic mode. (Image credit: Max Klamus) Rear seat passengers should be prepared to feel a lot of wheelslip, especially when in Dynamic mode. (Image credit: Max Klamus)

The R adds an aggro grille, 20-inch wheels with low-ish profile tyres, a bootlid spoiler, red brake calipers and vents in the bonnet. Bits and pieces get the black gloss treatment and there are V8 and R badges, as well as a rather large leaper on the bootlid. Capping it all off are four exhausts poking out from the bumper and distinctive vertical taillights.

Inside remains largely unchanged. The cabin is big and luxurious, leather-lined and very, very comfortable. The front air vents have to be modelled on the de Havilland Comet's integrated jet engine intakes and, again, the dash design stays away from the horizontal lines of its obvious competition.

There is probably a bit much chrome for my liking, particularly on the centre console and around the rotary dial shifter, which reflects sunlight into your face during the day.

Jag's engineers are clearly hooligans at heart. (Image credit: Max Klamus) Jag's engineers are clearly hooligans at heart. (Image credit: Max Klamus)

The lovely 'Riva Hoop' - a band that sweeps from door to door across the top of the dash - is a great touch and remains a defining feature in the cabin. The last update brought an Audi-like digital dashboard, including maps, but it's not nearly as slick as the German. The graphics for the dials are good (and quick) but the maps are a bit so-so.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

It might be over five metres long, but the Jag's cabin isn't as gigantic as that might suggest - luckily, if you want space, the XJ L has it. The SWB version is roomy enough, though, just not palatial. You can fit five people, but the big transmission tunnel will limit the size of that fifth.

Front and rear passengers have a pair of cupholders each, with rubber bubbles to help hold smaller cups in tight. The front and rear doors have pockets but aren't really for bottles.

Boot space is a reasonable 520 litres, with a space saver spare under the floor.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

As is expected at this level, Jaguar was not mucking about with price or specification - the XJR starts at a mildly terrifying $299,995, which is very close to the rather more tranquil Autobiography long-wheelbase relax-o-mobile.

Even the fat Pirelli P-Zero's struggle for purchase when the right foot hits the carpet. (Image credit: Max Klamus) Even the fat Pirelli P-Zero's struggle for purchase when the right foot hits the carpet. (Image credit: Max Klamus)

Standard are 20-inch alloys, a 20-speaker stereo, power everything with three memory positions, four-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, heated and cooled front and rear seats, sat nav, LED headlights and DRLs, leather everywhere, auto wipers and (LED) headlights, electric boot lid, heated steering wheel and a space saver spare.

The Meridian-branded stereo is an absolute cracker, powered by the improved but still laggy 'InControl Pro' system. Oddly, it's all crammed into an 8.0-inch touchscreen when there is seemingly room for the larger (and better-performing) 10.0-inch screen. The software is far superior than the version that preceded the last update, but the screen is hard to use, as targets are placed right in the corners and are hard to hit.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also absent, and the sat nav is still fairly dopey.

The lovely 'Riva Hoop' is a great touch and remains a defining feature in the cabin. (Image credit: Max Klamus) The lovely 'Riva Hoop' is a great touch and remains a defining feature in the cabin. (Image credit: Max Klamus)

A long list of options are available, some of which should probably be included in the big sticker price - DAB+ ($620), premium paint is a splutter-worthy $2060 (although, to be fair, the vast majority of the 19 colours are free), adaptive cruise with queue assist ($2200), adaptive headlights a further $2620 and 'Parking Assist', which adds side sensors and a front camera, a further $2780. Reverse cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring and forward collision warning cost yet another $1460. Ouch.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

Jaguar's lovely 5.0-litre V8 with supercharger continues under the XJ's long and shapely bonnet, delivering a walloping 404kW and a tyre-shredding 680Nm. The sprint to 100km/h for all 1875kg of XJR is completed in an impressive 4.6 seconds, which was very competitive at the car's launch in 2009.

Jaguar's lovely 5.0-litre supercharged V8 continues under the XJ's long and shapely bonnet (Image credit: Max Klamus) Jaguar's lovely 5.0-litre supercharged V8 continues under the XJ's long and shapely bonnet (Image credit: Max Klamus)

Power reaches the rear wheels via ZF's eight-speed automatic and you can control it with the tacky plastic paddles on the steering wheel. Oh, and it has stop-start.

How much fuel does it consume?   6/10

The combined cycle figure for the V8 is listed at 11.1L/100km but fully expect to see the 16.1L/100km we got, especially as you try and fail to tyre of the monstrous power delivery and lovely (if muted) V8 roar.

Luckily, even if you're belting it, the 82 litre tank is a generous size and you'll cover a fair amount of ground.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

Indecently quick, surprisingly agile and heaps of fun. While the first descriptor applies purely because of its size, the next two shouldn't when you're in command of 5.13 metres of motor vehicle. As with the Audi and now the 7, the Jag has a lot of aluminium to help keep the kilos off and good gracious, it has worked.

Traction control off and you've got a proper tyre-smoker if you're not playing by the rules. (Image credit: Max Klamus) Traction control off and you've got a proper tyre-smoker if you're not playing by the rules. (Image credit: Max Klamus)

The R is based around the short wheelbase version of the XJ for perhaps obvious reasons. Even so, it appears to be the shorter-again XF's because this thing turns in like a demon. No, it won't stay with the dearly-departed XF-R but it does a mighty fine impression of one, just with a better ride quality.

Rear seat passengers should be prepared to feel a lot of wheelslip, especially when in Dynamic mode, as even the fat Pirelli P-Zero's struggle for purchase when the right foot hits the carpet. The V8 rumbles rather than bellows, but the rears cheerfully spin up until the computers and active differential rein things in. Traction control off and you've got a proper tyre-smoker if you're not playing by the rules. Jag's engineers are clearly hooligans at heart.

Boot space is a reasonable 520 litres. (Image credit: Max Klamus) Boot space is a reasonable 520 litres. (Image credit: Max Klamus)

As always, ZF's eight-speed transmission does an incredible job of marshalling the horses in a rearward direction and when you're not after a bit of sound and light, have achieved a tremendous amount with the damping. When in normal mode, the car glides along, so much so that the lady of the house wasn't so sure it was a sporting sedan.

Once she was apprised of dynamic mode (you have to cycle the button through winter mode first, for some reason), her only complaint was that it was too long and the steering wheel too big for this type of car. I was persuaded of the latter, especially after stepping out of an Audi S3 which has a tiny wheel. Long story short, the XJR is now 'her' car (to be more accurate, the XFR is, but that hasn't arrived yet, so...), as it felt smaller than it was when not parking and she's a sucker for a torquey V8.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 100,000 km warranty

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The whole XJ range has six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, emergency brake assist, reversing camera, three top tethers and two ISOFIX points. The XJ doesn't have an ANCAP safety rating.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

Jaguar offers a three year/unlimited kilometre warranty and roadside assist for the same period.

The Jag comes with a space saver spare wheel. (Image credit: Max Klamus) The Jag comes with a space saver spare wheel. (Image credit: Max Klamus)

Like the F-Type, XJ owners benefit from three years/100,000km free servicing.

Verdict

It might be old and facing German competition bursting with advanced technology, but the XJR is still a car you can buy with heart and head. But mostly your heart. It goes like stink, has a much better interior than the Quattroporte and is more interesting than just about anything this big or this grand.

It's also a better car than the Maserati Quattroporte if you want to get on with the driving yourself and is far prettier than the Porsche Panamera. It's a wonderful thing and even more wonderful that Jaguar continues to build it. Long live that supercharged V8 and the XJ is a great home for it.

Is the XJ your cup of Earl Grey or are you more interested in a Maserati espresso (sorry) or a Porsche stein (sorry, again)? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$188,430
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$137,060
Highest Price
$239,800

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
3.0 Td PREMIUM LUXURY SWB 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $137,390 – 157,960 2017 JAGUAR XJ 2017 3.0 Td PREMIUM LUXURY SWB Pricing and Specs
3.0 V6 SC Portfolio LWB 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $155,430 – 178,640 2017 JAGUAR XJ 2017 3.0 V6 SC Portfolio LWB Pricing and Specs
3.0 V6 SC Premium Luxury LWB 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $137,060 – 157,520 2017 JAGUAR XJ 2017 3.0 V6 SC Premium Luxury LWB Pricing and Specs
3.0 V6 SC Premium Luxury SWB 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $137,060 – 157,520 2017 JAGUAR XJ 2017 3.0 V6 SC Premium Luxury SWB Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Design8
Practicality7
Price and features7
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption6
Driving8
Safety7
Ownership8
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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