2014 Jaguar XJR Long-Wheelbase Quick Drive
Bigger and Faster: The Return of the XJR
Although the XJR model has been absent since 2010, Jaguar offers 470-hp (Supercharged) and 510-hp (Supersport, Ultimate) models with a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8. For 2014, the Jaguar XJR returns to the British automaker's lineup with more power than ever. We drove the 2014 XJR, as well as the equally powerful 2014 Jaguar XFR-S, on a scenic route from Seattle to the Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Washington, to see how far the high-powered luxury sedan has come.
The R line model was introduced with the 1995 Jaguar XJR. While that model was powered by a supercharged I-6 with 332 hp and 378 lb-ft of torque mated to a four-speed automatic, the drivetrain was replaced just three years later by a 370-hp, 387 lb-ft supercharged 4.0-liter V-8 and five-speed auto combo. When the last-generation model ended production in 2009, the XJR's displacement had grown to 4.2 liters with power climbing to 390 hp and 399 lb-ft, while the transmission had six forward gears.
Like its high-performance German competitors, Jaguar's R lineup uses performance tuning to extract more power and increase handling limits. While the XKR coupe and convertible and XFR sedan get by with 510 hp, the 2014 Jaguar XJR is powered by the same 550-hp, 502 lb-ft supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 as the high-performance (and limited production) 2014 XFR-S and XKR-S/GT models. An eight-speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels. While the F-Type convertible's Quickshift technology is reserved for R-S models, the XJR's transmission tuning adds sportiness while maintaining the composure expected in a luxury car. In automatic mode, the transmission determines shift speed, shift points, and how long to hold a gear based on acceleration, braking, and steering inputs. Paddle shifters give the driver even more control over shift timing. Automatic start/stop is standard. Rear-drive 2014 Jaguar XJ sedans with the supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 are EPA-rated at 15/23 mpg city/highway.
Revised springs and dampers increase high-speed handling and stability without sacrificing low-speed ride. The lightweight 20-inch Farallon forged alloy wheels are wrapped in custom Pirelli rubber measuring 265/35R20 up front and 295/30R20 out back. Other changes include new steering valving lifted from the F-Type roadster. The active electronic differential and Dynamic Stability Control systems have been revised to work with the retuned suspension and steering. While subtle, aerodynamic changes include hood louvers that also aid in cooling, unique side sills, and a functional rear lip spoiler.
With the supercharged V-8's massive torque reserve, part-throttle acceleration pushes the XJR into ultra-legal speeds quicker than anticipated - especially during passing maneuvers. The isolated cabin of the long-wheelbase XJR gives little sensation for speed: 60 mph feels the same as 25 mph, which could lead to trouble with the authorities without vigilant watch over the speedo. Keeping track of the XJR's speed is made easy with the 12.3-inch high-definition virtual instrument cluster with a speedometer spotlight that highlights the numbers closest to the needle for quick speed checks.
In order to have plenty of seat time in the XJR (and XFR-S), we took the scenic route from downtown Seattle through Federation Forest State Park, White Point, and Rock Point Park past Mount Rainer to Shelton. At 206.5 inches overall, the long-wheelbase (124.3 inches) XJR handled the canyon roads surprisingly well for its size.
The story was no different at the Ridge Motorsports Park, a 16-turn, 2.5-mile course surrounded by pine trees. At 40 feet wide, the track is 4 feet wider than the U.S. standard and features four blind corners, a 2900-foot straight, and 300 feet of elevation changes (80 feet from top to bottom). Turn 13 is the fourth blind turn, which also marks the beginning of the Ridge Complex or "corkscrew" that also includes Turns 14 and 15. While not as vocal as the XFR-S, the XJR roared with authority down the front straight where it blew past 130 mph before slowing for Turn 1. Large 14.96-inch front and 14.8-inch rear discs securely slowed the big cat under heavy braking. Despite being a large luxury sedan, the XJR attacked the course confidently, if not as quickly as the shorter wheelbase XFR-S.
Jaguar estimates the 2014 XFR-S will reach 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. But after spending time on the street and track, those numbers seem conservative. Especially considering our 470-hp 2013 XJL 5.0 Supercharged on all-season tires reached 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds, while an older XJL 5.0 Supercharged with the six-speed automatic and summer tires reached 60 mph in 4 seconds flat. With an additional 80 hp and 78 lb-ft as well as wider and stickier rubber, we wouldn't be surprised if the XJR reached 60 mph in the mid- to-high-3-second range. While other supercharged V-8 XJ/L models are electronically limited to 155 mph, the reins have been loosened on the XJR to 174 mph.
The 2014 Jaguar XJR starts at $116,895, with the long-wheelbase model costing an additional $3000. In comparison, the 520-hp 2014 Audi S8 starts at $113,395, while the 540-hp 2013 BMW Alpina B7 is priced at $128,495 and the 536-hp 2013 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG has a base price of $140,905 (the 2015 S63 has 577 hp, all-wheel drive, and is similarly priced). The S8 hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, while the last Alpina B7 and S63 AMG we tested each hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds.
With 550 hp, the 2014 Jaguar XJR has the most bragging rights on paper and is a sexy choice for those who want something other than a superfast German luxury sedan. We hope we can get our hands on an example to put through our standard battery of tests to see how it compares in the real world.