The new Jaguar XJR is the fastest XJ you can buy. It uses the same supercharged 5.0-litre V8 as the XJ Supersport, but power is up 39bhp to 542bhp, while the 0-62mph time is down from 5.7 seconds to 5.2. Jaguar says that the suspension has been fettled to make it 30% stiffer than the standard XJ's.
In the UK, the XJR is offered only in standard wheelbase form, whereas the Supersport has the long wheelbase.
What’s the 2013 Jaguar XJR like to drive?
Expecting the XJ to be as precise and responsive as a sports car is rather like expecting your armchair to double up as a filing cabinet. By the standards of 5.0-metre long limos, the XJR really is fun, however.
Its eight-speed automatic gearbox is hard to fault because it’s smooth and nearly always picks the right gear. Meanwhile, the engine delivers just the right amount of brutality and noise when you want it before settling to a near-silent hush at a cruise.
The steering, although light, is also sharp and accurate, without being too neurotic. It weights up more in Dynamic mode to offer a satisfying bite in fast cornering, although this setting does bring sharpened throttle responses that can be a bit tricky to modulate.
Despite the stiffened suspension, the ride feels much like any other XJ's, which means it leans more towards wafty than firm, but gets a bit pattery over scruffy surfaces. While there's noticeable body roll, the XJR feels eager to turn into corners for such a big car.
Road noise is very well suppressed, but there's a bit of wind noise at motorway speeds.
What’s the 2013 Jaguar XJR like inside?
The piano-black surround to the 8.0-inch, colour touch-screen combines with blue backlighting, a rising gear selector and lashings of chrome and leather to give the XJR's cabin a real sense of theatre.
However, functionality is not best in class. The touch-screen is fiddly to use on the move and has some overly complicated menus, although it does get easier with familiarity, and the conventional switchgear is nicely damped.
The sports seats are also really comfortable, and have a huge range of electrically-controlled adjustment. True, rear visibility is a little restricted due to the very slanted rear window and chunky pillars, but the forward view is good.
The rear bench can seat three if the middle occupant doesn’t mind being upright and uncomfortable, while those to either side recline in sculpted seats with plenty of legroom.You don't get as much headroom as you do in most rival limos, though.
Standard equipment on the R over other top-end XJs is limited mostly to styling addenda, including the carbonfibre rear spoiler and 20-inch alloys. As the XJR is based on a top-spec Portfolio trim anyway, you get a generous spec that includes sat-nav, a DAB radio, Bluetooth, heated and cooled leather seats, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, and auto lights and wipers.
Should I buy one?
If you’re dead set on a fast, petrol-powered limo, the Jaguar XJR is worth considering. However, it’s near impossible to recommend, not least because those after something with sports car ability and accommodation for four will be better catered for with the super-saloons in the executive class, such as the Mercedes E63 AMG and Jaguar’s own XFR. They’re more focused and cost much less, although you do sacrifice some of the space and the full-fat limo image.
Even if you don’t want to make that compromise, the Mercedes S500 L AMG Line is also slightly cheaper, hardly any slower and will be a better chauffeur’s car thanks to its superior rear headroom.
Still, the XJR is cheaper than a Maserati Quattroporte V8 and it has real evocative appeal. It’s a ‘want one’ car. If you want it and you’ve got the means to buy it, you won’t be disappointed.
What Car? says...
Engine size Supercharged 5.0-litre V8
Price from £92,370
Torque 502lb ft
0-60mph 4.4 seconds
Top speed 174mph
Fuel economy 24.4mpg