2014 Jaguar XJR first drive review

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The new 550-horsepower Jaguar XJR is indeed a stormer of a big sedan. We knew that much, even before heading out for our first drive in one this past week.

But what we learned after a few hours behind the wheel is that this super-sedan (in size and performance) retains all of what comprises the Jaguar personality: It’s quintessentially English: composed and proper by day, freely switching gears to blow off steam for the evening or the bank holiday—and despite the first impressions, not so serious that it gets in the way of enjoyment. Yes, we Americans have a lot to learn.

So do some of the technology-overloaded German luxury flagships and their lock-step stoicism, really (why be so restrained even when letting it all loose?). And suitably so, the 2014 Jaguar XJR, which goes on sale this September, pulls off this duality better than any luxury car in recent memory.

To paraphrase a Jaguar representative, the XJR is there for customers who aren’t necessarily rabid enthusiasts or weekend racers—rather those who decide they really like the XJ and say “I want the fastest, most powerful version of that!

Silly quick; still a luxury flagship

And considering that, the XJR fits the purpose perfectly—delivering way more performance than you’d expect from such a large sedan without ever losing sight of its mission, of being the top-power model of a luxury flagship.

It’s been four years since there’s been a top XJR model—since the old body style—and the XJR gets an impressive mill right out of the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S we also recently drove. That’s Jaguar’s top-power 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 engine, making 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque—up appreciably from the 510-hp XJ Supersport and 470-hp XJ Supercharged. To complement that, springs are stiffer front and rear. Although you might not even expect it; the XJR has great ride quality, with a suspension that soaks up road coarseness and minor heaves with relative ease.

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