There’s no mistaking how much power Jaguar’s new XJR575 makes. It’s right there in the name, the three digits contained therein declaring the 575 hard-charging horses stuffed under the hood of the Jaguar XJ, the company’s largest sedan. It’s also seemingly everywhere you look: embroidered on four of the five seats, emblazoned on the doorsills, stuck on the trunk, and prominently displayed at the top of the dashboard. In Jaguar’s not-so-subtle branding of this car, it’s as if horsepower is some kind of abstract, intangible idea—something that cannot be seen nor heard nor felt.
But in the XJR575, those workhorses can very much be seen and heard and felt, and the best advertisement of all this power can be found under the driver’s right foot. Squeeze the accelerator to the floor and Jaguar’s big sedan does a convincing impression of the company’s classic Leaper hood ornament, lunging forward and streaking across the landscape. The world beyond the glass blurs, the supercharged V-8 bellows, and the thrust compresses your guts.
A Big Sedan That’s Not so Big
The XJR575 is the latest—and possibly the last—testosterone injection for the eight-year-old XJ. Sharing its supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 with the F-type SVR, the XJR575 gets a 25-horse bump over the XJR it replaces while torque rises 14 lb-ft to 516. Jaguar claims that the XJR575 will run from zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, but we’ve seen the 550-hp XJR make the run in as little as 3.8 seconds and expect the 575 to knock a tenth off that time.
What’s even more impressive is how swift this car is on a fast back road. Even though its exterior dimensions are par for the segment, the XJ’s cabin feels far narrower than those of the Audi A8, BMW 7-series, and Mercedes-Benz S-class. That sense of compactness helps punctuate the feeling of smallness and lightness the driver experiences behind the wheel. Mostly, though, that sensation comes from the XJ’s aluminum-intensive chassis. At about 4350 pounds, the long-wheelbase XJR575 (the only version of the XJR575 that’s coming to the United States) weighs roughly 750 pounds less than BMW’s 600-hp M760i and 700 pounds less than a Mercedes-AMG S63, though both of those models are burdened with the extra weight of all-wheel drive. Still, the XJR575 is no luxury barge.
Nimble and lithe, the XJR’s athleticism stands out in contrast with the bank-vault-on-wheels character that’s common in this class of near limos. There’s less float and isolation than you’ll find in most competitors, with well-connected steering, firm but not uncomfortable damping, and tight roll control. And while rear-seat legroom is prodigious, the XJR575 feels like a car designed around the driver rather than the back seat.
Feeling Every One of Its Eight Years
Starting at $123,395 when it goes on sale by the end of 2017, the XJR575 will cost just $1400 more than last year’s long-wheelbase 550-horse XJR. It’s distinguished from lesser XJs (which remain available in short and long wheelbases) by two hood vents, a spoiler, unique side sills, and gloss-black exterior trim in place of traditional chrome accents. Twenty-inch gloss-black wheels mount over red brake calipers, and for buyers seeking a six-figure boy racer, a decidedly Subaru-ish hue called Velocity Blue—shown here—can be had for $4080.
The XJ’s interior is upscale and attractive, but it’s nowhere near as opulent or trendsetting as, say, that of an S-class. The interior’s gloss-black plastic trim looks like, well, plastic. Competitors offer whole ecosystems worth of rich woods and genuine metals to choose from. And, for better or worse, the XJ isn’t brimming with technology like an Audi that can steer itself through traffic or a BMW that can be driven into a parking spot from your phone. All XJs get an infotainment upgrade for 2018 with the former 8.0-inch touchscreen growing to a 10.0-inch unit, although that doesn’t enhance the slightly clumsy interface of Jag’s InControl Touch Pro system.
Light on Its Feet
The XJR575 isn’t a status symbol in the way that a 7-series or an S-class is. It also isn’t a sensory deprivation chamber where driving is best left to a chauffeur. When it comes to piloting a big sedan, the XJR575 is as light-footed as they come. It’s a capable long-distance road warrior and a respectable handler on curvy roads. The extra dose of power only makes it that much more adept at blitzing a freeway and blazing a back road.