First drive: 2015 Jaguar XJ R in the UAE
The current Jaguar XJ is the flagship model that set the styling tone for all Jaguars that came after it, and while several new models have joined the range, the XJ itself is getting a bit long in the tooth. However, it’s hard to complain when it looks as modern as ever, and very unique in a class where rivals are increasingly aping the Mercedes-Benz S-Class for inspiration. Jaguar has kept the XJ fresh by playing with powertrain options over the years, and the XJR you see here is the most powerful one you can get.
It’s hard to identify the XJR from its regular brethren, but the most obvious ‘R’ styling cues are the different front bumper, the bonnet vents and the optionally-darkened wheels, making it look particularly aggressive, and dismissing any notion that this long-wheelbase version is a chauffeur-driven car. It received a subtle facelift in 2016, but otherwise looks mostly the same.
Inside, it’s pretty much like any other XJ, except that our ‘R’ had red-black seats and carbon-fibre trim. It feels a bit cosy from the driver’s seat, as the wraparound dash and the rakish windshield give off a sports-car vibe, although there’s still plenty of space, especially in the back. Even the boot is bigger in this example, as it did not have the optional reclining rear seats to eat up space.
The dash and doors are generously spruced up with soft-touch leather surfaces. There’s also tasteful amounts of chrome trimmings, especially around the rotary gear-selector that rises from the center console when the car is started. Aside from the metal shift-knob that gets hot in the sun, other interesting touches include circular chrome a/c vents with lighting elements in them.
The XJ has more than enough tech, but nothing remarkable aside from the dash touchscreen that can show two different views to the driver and the front passenger. This central 7-inch screen does duty for multimedia, telecom and navigation functions, as well as Bluetooth phone and streaming music. The interface isn’t particularly attractive though.
Other notable features include a panoramic glass roof, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and a gauge cluster that’s actually just a big LCD screen showing instrumentation graphics and other data, while the glovebox-release and overhead lights are both operated by touch.
The XJR saw the introduction of the 550 hp version of the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 to the XJ family. Shared with the Range Rover SVR and the F-Type R, it is a monster of a motor that sounds muscular at full throttle, making 680 Nm of torque that’d probably overwhelm the rear tyres if ESP did not kick in all the time. Capable of 0-100 kph in less than 5 seconds, it’s overkill, really.
The sleek sedan handles great for its size, with some credit going to the all-aluminium body helping to reduce weight. But while all the controls are responsive, we feel a car like this needs more steering feedback.
The XJR rides pretty well for a sports sedan, but it’s noticeably on the firm side. It’s smooth enough on most roads, but slight undulations that can be felt due to the low-profile tyres. Road noise is unnoticeable, but the cabin does let in a certain amount of wind noise at highway speeds, so it’s quiet enough, but not as well as some of the Germans.
The rear visibility is limited and the side-mirrors are small, so one needs to practice depending on the blind-spot monitors. Its length makes parking a bit tougher as well.
To be honest, there isn’t much here to recommend it over the Jaguar XJ 3.0 Supercharged we drove earlier. That V6 car also feels pretty quick and handles well enough, while offering the same interior amenities and coming in at a significantly lower price. Most people won’t even notice the subtle ‘R’ styling cues on the XJR anyway.
For UAE prices and GCC specs, visit the Jaguar buyer guide.