Now normally, when I think of getting behind the wheel of a massive four door saloon, performance is not the first thing that comes to mind. Stateliness? Sure. Luxury? Yes, of course. But actively tuned exhaust notes and a 550HP Supercharged V8 bolted onto a sublime 8 speed gearbox? Rarely.
That was, of course, until I spent 72 hours with the 2014 Jaguar XJR.
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Long the chariot of choice of British royals, the XJ series has been a mark of refined luxury since it first hit the scene in 1968. My parents strapped me into the backseat of a 1990 XJ12 Series 3 when I was a toddler, which must have been quite the statement in early nineties suburban Connecticut. It only took me 3 years to grow tall enough to tear a tiny hole in the right rear headliner where I once stored a Matchbox version of the exact same car. It has taken a full 22 years for this crime to be expunged from my childhood record.
I didn’t realize it then, but after spending a weekend with the 2014 XJR I understood my parents’ anger—these are truly special machines, and the latest iteration is only more so.
Just a week before I took delivery of the XJR, I had the pleasure of thrashing it around the Monticello Motor Club’s private raceway. Along with the entire line, if I’m being honest, it was the car that I was least excited to try (the term here is relative, there was a swath of XKR’s and F-TYPE R Coupes in attendance), yet it was the one I found myself most impressed by. It’s not that the others failed to impress, it’s more that they do exactly what you think they’ll do. A two door sports coupe with a race package? Surprise! It acts like a two door sports coupe with a race package. But a four door saloon that acts more like a two door sports coupe with a race package? Now that, THAT is something that gets my attention.
The thing about it though, with all that power, I never once felt like I wasn’t master of my domain. Even with active stability control off, every one of the five hundred and fifty horses they’ve stabled under the hood was at my beck and call. I could hear their thick British accents asking in unison, “More power, sir? Perhaps a cup of tea with your heaping gobs of power?" However comfortable you feel pegging the XJR, it has plenty more to give.
As for the interior, it’s right where you’d expect it to be. The design language kicked into gear in 2010, so it’s still relatively fresh. Truthfully it could look like Aunt Edna’s mole for all it matters, the drivetrain really is that good.
All in all, the XJR represents the last big piece in an extremely well-rounded lineup from a company that’s poised to reclaim its spot at the top of the motoring world’s podium, once again proving that a few plucky Brits will always have the upper-hand over a nation of anal retentive Germans.