2018 Jaguar XJR575

 

This flagship Jag is the cat’s meow

Words by: Adam Allen

 

What a relief that Jaguar decided to build the 575; The old XJR just wasn’t cutting the mustard in the speed department.

What’s next, a complaint that bacon needs a replacement because it doesn’t taste good enough? We beg your pardon if we respond to any grievances about the outgoing XJR’s meagre 550 horsepower with a dismissive wave of the hand. Still, there are those whose satisfaction will never be satiated, especially so where engine output is concerned. For that discerning demographic Jaguar would like to direct their attention to the new XJR575, a car that builds on the already sublime driving experience of the, ahem, slower XJR.

As the XJ approaches its 10th birthday, we’re reminded that we should all be so lucky to age this gracefully.

In the automotive world, ten years is an extremely long time and yet the XJ has soldiered on with only incremental refreshments here and there to keep it fresh. That’s a testament to its inherently beautiful styling, which still looks the business since we first clapped eyes on it back in 2009. Parked next to the German competitors it squares off with and they look a bit stodgy compared to the feline-esque XJ- its fluidic curves and slinky profile lend it an almost sensual quality compared to those other executive limos. Our tester was bathed in nearly $8,000 of gorgeous matte grey paint that paired nicely with a set of black 20” wheels which only served to heighten the 575’s loveliness and drew more than its fair share of admiring glances.

Looks notwithstanding, the XJ always feels like you’re driving something special.

There’s the usual mix of stuff that all imparts the feeling that your driving a car that rewards its driver each time it sets off for a journey, long or short- the heady smell of leather, the immaculately assembled interior, the rumble of the supercharged V8 on start up. Now that the F-Type SVR has donated its engine to the XJ, things get even more interesting. In our humble opinion, the XJ has become an even cooler car than the Porsche 911 Turbo stalking F-Type. That car, with its bellicose assault on every eardrum in its wake, must resort to employing all-wheel drive to make sure the massive output reaches the road. In the XJ, all that firepower is aimed only at the rear wheels, meaning you can really test your skill and mettle when you open the taps on this big brute. Not only that, but the XJ is a vastly more friendly conveyance in the real world- it offers an enormous amount of space over the two-seater F-Type, to say nothing of its superior comfort and luxury accoutrements. Despite the lack of spitting fury coming from the four exhaust pipes, you get most of the SVR experience without the compromises of a small sports car.

It’s the perfect car for a freak Spring ice storm.

Perhaps an explanation is in order. During our time with the XJR575 Mother Nature decided to unleash her aggression on the GTA by battering us with two days of icy, wet weather. Clearly, she didn’t get the memo that we’re expecting warm temps and gentle breezes at this time of year. Our tester arrived from the U.K. wearing factory fitted Michelin Pilot Sports which are useless in temperatures less than seven degrees Celsius, never mind with a sheen of ice on the ground. Obviously, the weather and tire choice made for some white knuckled moments- but not as much as you’d think. We’re not trying to tell you that snow tires aren’t a mandatory necessity for this car if you plan on driving it in the winter- they are a must- but we’re just letting you know that the big Jag fared much better than we’d have ever expected. Chalk it up to an inherently balanced and capable chassis, or just plain luck (with a little driver’s skill to help out, naturally) but the 575 was able to get around without too much difficulty in those conditions.

What was it like to drive when order was restored and the roads became dry again?

Once we were able to use more than the 3.7 horsepower we gingerly deployed to the rear tires in those abhorrent circumstances, the Jag reminded us how enjoyable it is having close to 600 ponies at one’s disposal in a large sedan with all the luxurious trappings of a five-star hotel. Needless to say, it is devastatingly quick in a straight line no matter the situation- even more impressive is the midrange grunt. See that opening in traffic way up ahead? Flex your right foot and you’re there, pretty much instantly. That the Jag can muster speed with laughable ease isn’t surprising. What will come as a slight shock is how adept the 575 is when you show it some corners. This is a big car and yet it drives much smaller than it is- how at home it feels in the twisty bits is nothing short of amazing. Another surprise: a car with handling this capable should ride on the wrong side of firm, but it just doesn’t. Even with 30 series ultra high-performance tires and suspension tuned for sharpened responses the Jag still rides with aplomb, never threatening the tranquility of its occupants. Credit for this deft balance of comfort and athleticism is due to the Jag’s relatively feathery curb weight of 1,885 kilos. To put it into perspective just how svelte it really is, it weighs in at a staggering 340 kilograms less than the V12 powered BMW M760Li we tested a few months back.

I like interior badging that tells the world of the prodigious horsepower lurking under the hood.

If that’s the case, you’ll love this Jag. The seats, doorsills and dashboard all feature a prominent ‘575’ badge reminding you of the output the supercharged V8 can dole out. That’s about as ostentatious as things get, because everything else speaks of the opulence in a most demurred tone. There are swaths of carbon fibre of the highest quality and they are integrated with care into door panels and dashboard with extreme attention to detail and the leather and stitching are meticulously crafted. If it weren’t such a hoot to drive you may be tempted to never leave the rear seat with its vast amount of space and comfort. To those that fancy themselves audiophiles, the Meridian sound system with its 26 speakers and 1,300 watts of decibel generating prowess will certainly delight. It’s unquestionably powerful, much like the car it’s installed in- but the clarity it reproduces your favourite tunes in must be heard to be believed.

What might go wrong?

The trade-off of having all that buttery horsepower at your disposal is, quite unsurprisingly, fuel economy that won’t win any awards for frugality. We managed 15.6L/100km, but it required great restraint on our part to ensure that number wasn’t any higher. We’re still not enamoured with Jaguar’s InControl Touch Pro infotainment system- it’s not the most intuitive system out there, nor is it the speediest when it comes to executing a command. While we like that the XJR575 is rear-wheel drive, some folks will be disappointed that the option to have power sent to all four wheels isn’t on the table.

Should I buy an XJR575?

If you weren’t sure that the 575 is right for you, a test drive should put any doubts to rest. This Jag has the right mix of comfort, style and all out speed, not to mention a good deal of proficiency when you want to hustle it down your favourite stretch of tarmac. Sure, it competes head to head with all the usual suspects from Germany, but the XJ has a character that’s distinctly different from all of them.

2018 Jaguar XJR575 – Specifications

  • Price as tested: $138,220
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger sedan
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/rear-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Engine:  5.0 litre supercharged V8, DOHC, 32 valves
  • Horsepower:  575 @ 6,250 rpm
  • Torque (lbs-ft.): 517 @ 3,500 rpm
  • Curb weight: 1,885 kg (4,156 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel Consumption: 15.6L/100km (15 mpg)