27 Feb 2019

Jaguar XJR 575 2019 review

High-performance limousine is ageing gracefully
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Just like wine - or fashion - there are cars that age gracefully while others are a sharp date stamp of time.

The Jaguar XJ fits into the former. As the oldest model in the British car maker’s line-up - and the large limousine segment in general - it has been overshadowed by the arrival of Jaguar’s gorgeous F-Type Coupe and Roadster, more affordable sedans in the XE and XF and the inevitable focus on SUVs with the launch of the F-Pace and E-Pace soft roaders. And, more recently, the race to become the first European luxury brand to tackle Tesla with its I-pace electric car.

But Jaguar hasn’t left the XJ alone to mature in cellar, recently giving the full-size limousine a freshen-up, bringing updated safety and connectivity features as well as introducing a new range-topping high-performance XJR 575, which we’re testing here.

Is the Jaguar XJR right for me?

Jaguar steered its flagship XJ limousine away from conventional when it introduced the current X351 version almost a decade ago. Where its predecessors had been contemporary (stuffy old-school) rivals to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series that dominate the segment, the sixth-generation XJ was intended to appeal more to those who preferred driving rather than being chauffeured around in the back seat as it was only offered in a single wheelbase configuration (there was no extended version like its rivals) with a sleek exterior design and more sporting driving character.

That position hasn’t changed. In fact, it is been amplified in the XJR 575, which becomes the most powerful sedan in Jaguar’s local line-up - and an alternative to loony limos like the Mercedes-AMG S63 and Maserati Quattroporte GTS.

Whats does the Jaguar XJR cost?

The entry-price into the XJ range starts at $213,748 (plus on-roads) for the V6-powered Portfolio model. And Jaguar will take another six figures out of you account for the XJR 575, which tops the range at $310,103 (plus on-roads).

Design

What is the Jaguar XJR's interior like?

It’s bold and beautiful, but like the never-ending soap opera it isn’t as classy as some of its rivals and also showing its age in areas.

The overall design, with its wraparound section that flows into the doors, takes its inspiration from classic motor boats and still looks contemporary today as it is a feature that has been copied by many other cars in recent years. The central part of the dashboard is a little more conventional - with the exception of its bulbous air conditioning vents at the top - and now (as part of the model year 2018 updates) - houses a large 10-inch colour touch screen to match the digital instrument cluster.

But, even though the cabin is draped in soft leather and highlighted by real carbon fibre trim pieces, some of the chintzy chrome touches look a bit cheap and drag the quality ambience of the cabin down a level.

How much space does the Jaguar XJR have?

Those in front are treated to generous room and are cosseted in comfortable chairs that not only look sensational with quilted leather cushions but offer great support and plenty of adjustment.

Back seat passengers are equally ensconced in luxury, but as the XJR 575 is only offered in a conventional wheelbase configuration - and not an extended version like rivals - it is, ultimately, not as spacious, with the sloping roofline eating into some of the rear headroom.

The XJ’s boot is also a little smaller than most, measuring 479L in total capacity but is big enough to handle enough luggage for four on a trip away or a couple of golf bags at the weekend.

What's the Jaguar XJR's tech like?

A key element of the 2018 upgrade for the XJ is the fitment of Jaguar’s latest suite of connectivity features. Housed in a 10-inch colour screen, it has high-grade sat nav, digital radio and TV tuners, Bluetooth and WiFi connections and a top-end 1700 Watt Meridian sound system with 26-speakers.

Like a smartphone, the functions can be accessed - and manipulated - through a touch screen with pinch and zoom functionality, while the background can be customised and there are numerous wallpapers to personalise the look.

One unique feature is the dual-pane viewer, which allows the driver and passenger to see different functions on the screen at the same time - the passenger watching TV while on the move and the driver having sat nav, for example.

Ownership

How reliable is the 2018 Jaguar XJR?

Jaguar (and its related Land Rover division) don’t have the best reputation for quality in the luxury segment, and we’ve experienced numerous electronic glitches in a variety of vehicles recently.

But the XJ’s fundamentals, including its all-alloy chassis and the supercharged V8 engine, have been paired together for almost a decade, so there shouldn’t be any major mechanical issues.

How safe is the Jaguar XJR?

Being the oldest in a segment like this - where safety innovations are generally introduced - the XJ has been behind the eight ball for a while now. But the 2018 update brings a suite of advanced functions to Jaguar’s flagship limousine, including adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go in heavy traffic and automated emergency braking, as well as lane keeping assistance, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, semi-automated parking and a 360-degree camera.

What is the Jaguar XJR's warranty like?

All Jaguar models are covered by a three-year warranty with 100,000km coverage and roadside assistance.

What are the ongoing costs for the Jaguar XJR?

Jaguar offers free regular regular maintenance for the first three of ownership for all XJ models, which is worth thousands in comparison to rivals.

Feature

Is the 2018 Jaguar XJR value for money?

The Jaguar XJR 575 isn’t cheap to start with, neither is the fastest or most powerful of the loony limousine set and some elements are showing its age, which makes it difficult to recommend over its primary rival in the Mercedes-AMG S63 which has a broader depth of character, greater tech and more theatrical interior design.

Driving

What's under the Jaguar XJR's bonnet?

The XJR 575 is powered by the most powerful version of Jaguar’s venerable 5.0-litre supercharged V8, producing 423kW between 6250-6500rpm and 700Nm of torque on a band of revs between 3500-4500rpm.

It’s the same engine used in the high-performance F-Type SVR, but drives only the rear wheels (rather than all four in the F-Type) through an eight-speed automatic gearbox with the capacity to accelerate from 0-100km/h in 4.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 300km/h.

It’s a cracking engine that has a real duality in its character; it’s effortless, quiet and smooth when just running around town or cruising out on the open road; and yet ferociously fast at the top of its rev range. The supercharged induction ensures it builds steam in a linear fashion with instant throttle response but, in comparison to other cars with this engine, it is noticeably more subdued in its exhaust note, lacking the vocal power of the F-Type SVR which bellows under load and emits a thunderclap of gargling fuel when you back off. 

How much fuel does the Jaguar XJR use?

The XJR 575 has a combined average of 11.1L/100km on the government cycle, which is a figure that isn’t easy to match in the real world - especially if you spend of the time driving on stop-start city traffic, or tap into the engine’s performance every now and then.

What's it like to drive the Jaguar XJR?

There’s something oddly entertaining when driving a high-performance limousine like the XJ575; firstly because something so big shouldn’t be so quick; and secondly because something so quick isn’t usually as cosseting and relaxing.

The Jaguar manages to comfortably fuse those diametrically-opposed attributes with minimal compromise at either end of the spectrum. 

Thanks in part to its lightweight all-aluminium construction (which helps the 5130mm long limousine tip the scales at just 1895kg - between 250-350kg lighter than rivals) it feels, naturally, more agile with an ability to hide its sheer size.

With double wishbone suspension at each corner, adaptive dampers and grippy tyres on its 21-inch wheels, the XJR 575 manages to shrink around the driver and feel like a much smaller car on a twisty back road blast. The new-for-2018 electric power steering isn’t quite as intimate as the previous hydraulic set-up - in particular, it has lost some of its positive on-centre feel - but it still turns-in positively and has good weighting across the ratio.

As a driver’s car, the XJR 575 is an enjoyable machine to be behind the wheel of, but, while not quite as plush as others on air suspension, it is also comfortable and cruisey to drive around town.

How does the 2018 Jaguar XJR copare to the competition?

Limousines designed to appeal as much to the driver as they do to their passengers are compromised in their nature, and, by virtue of that, there are only a few high-performance alternatives, such as the Mercedes-AMG S63, Porsche Panamera and Maserati Quattroporte.

Each has their individual strengths; The Porsche is the closest to a genuine sports car; The Maserati focuses more on luxury; and the AMG is a technocratic muscle car.

TMR's Verdict

At the end of it all, buying a loony limo like any of these is a call for something that is equally as unique as it is fast and luxurious. And, for that, the Jaguar nails the brief, but there are some wrinkles coming to light in some areas.

Having said that, it is ageing gracefully as a beautiful and comfortable machine that is fun and fast to drive.

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