Jaguar XJR 575 Review - Top Cat


The XJR we’ve long had a soft spot for, and now there’s an upgraded example in the form of the XJR 575. It promises not only to be faster but also better value. Is it?

Words: Peter Louisson   |   Photos Tom Gasnier
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With a new A8 and revamped S-Class just out, Jaguar has freshened its headlining XJ. The car pictured here is the most powerful production saloon Jaguar has ever released, the XJR 575. Using a tweaked version of the F-Type SVR 5.0 S/C engine, the name is the giveaway. For the 575 refers to PS output, and that’s 19kW more than the XJR had (422kW in total).

Complementing that is 700Nm of twist, up 20 units, enough shove for a claimed 4.4sec sprint to 100km/h, 0.2sec better than the XJR. It runs to a top speed of 300km/h evidently, though not that many will see that. All the shove exits via the rear wheels too, so it remains purist. Huge PZeros help ground the output. There are other updates too.

This new XJR 575 has subtly different exterior details to hammer home its top-dog status, including a rear spoiler, side sills, front bumper and lower air intakes with gloss black surrounds. There are also 20-inch gloss black wheels and red brake calipers within. Step inside, and the tread plates and Riva hoop semicircular dash design are embossed with 575 branding, while diamond quilted sports seats signify something special. XJR also gets full LED headlights, the ‘J-blade signature’ DRLs, and the latest Touch Pro infotainment system using a 9.8-inch central touchscreen and 4G connectivity.

New safety features include Lane Keep Assist, Driver Condition Monitor and Autonomous Emergency Braking. Despite the upgrades, the list price has the 575 retailing for $20k less than the XJR at $199,900. This compares with the S 560 at $219k, while the AWD A8 3.0TFSI goes for $191,400. So the Jaguar’s up there on the luxo-saloon bang-for-buck front.

The engine is undoubtedly the centrepiece, though it’s prone to a drink.

It puts the bang to good use too, the purity of the drive reminding of former XJs. Where others pamper with air suspension and ultimate isolation, Jaguar embraces the relationship between road and driver. So it’s a 5.1m saloon but that doesn’t mean it can’t cut it on road. That said, it’s not even that easy to access the driver’s seat and the visibility outwards is not that crash hot either, the rear window a mere slit of a thing.

And yet when you’re underway these seem like minor quibbles for the way this big kahuna dissects roads of interest is breathtaking. It seems to hook into corners more like a medium-sized offering, almost deft in its direction changes. A few things contribute to that; a 51:49 weight split, kerb weight that’s convincingly below two tonnes and retention of rear wheel drive. Where everything else with silly power on tap has gone AWD, not the XJ. Well, not this one. You can buy an all-paw XJ if you’re American. But this variant gets the huge power grounded surprisingly well, not that we gave it a proper stab in the wet.

But in the dry, even with TC off, it hooks up well thanks to its electronic active differential and those enormous 295 Pirellis at the rear. Not that it doesn’t want to cut loose and get all smokey on you. There was hardly a significant improvement on the sprint front compared with the “Cat’s Pyjamas” XJR we drove in 2014. That managed a 0-100 time of 4.27sec (claim 4.6sec) and this too eclipsed its 4.4sec claim with a best of 4.25sec. Back in 2014 the XJR weighed 1948kg while the 575 scales up at 1978kg, effectively negating the added oomph.

With its all-aluminium chassis and body, however, it’s a goer. That’s reflected in an overtaking time in the low two-second bracket, 0.15sec ahead of the XJR, again hardly different. We felt that had upshifts been quicker, this might have registered a 0-100 time in the high threes. But then perhaps the auto wouldn’t operate with that just-so slur during everyday driving. The engine is undoubtedly the centrepiece, though it’s prone to a drink. We occasionally saw an average fuel use figure in the high 20s but, like before, 14s is typical. Jaguar reckons on 11.1 overall.

A low in the mid-sixes at 100km/h in top reflects a Cd of 0.29, and gearing you’d not think out of place in an interstate bus, with the open road limit using just 1250rpm in eighth. The ease of the performance is astonishing. While peak torque of 700Nm theoretically registers between 3500 and 4500rpm, by 2500rpm it feels like the Lion King’s awakening beneath the hood, and by 3500rpm with the Dynamic mode selected, you can hear it roar. It’s about this time when speed blur kicks in. The way this gathers pace when the engine feels like it’s not even trying is breathtaking.

Thankfully there’s active cruise for those with little self restraint but with a speedo that signs off at 320 there’s certainly potential for crucifixion if you’re caught dead to rights. There may be negatives to supercharging but this doesn’t suffer from lag at kick-off, and you appreciate instantaneous response when making snap decisions at roundabouts and the like.

The other laudable aspect of this big gun from Jaguar is that it feels like a proper car to drive, not like your regular luxobarge. It closes in and feels alive beneath you, the adaptive damping and sports suspension tune configured for both roll control and comfort, regardless of mode selected. For special roads Dynamic is better but for everything else Normal is just dandy. Same with the transmission; best in Drive but Sport is good too.

You can take control with standard shift paddles. Regrets we have a few. It’s only really a four seater, and headroom back there is somewhat limited because of the sunroof. The steering wheel feels a bit oversized but then it’s hardly a small car this, and for an electric helm this has an awful lot to say. Some aspects of the car feel a bit dated, like a reminder for lights left on. A drawback typical of the traditional sedan is a mean boot lid opening, but at least it does all that for you at the push of a button.

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The quoted 520L litres of luggage space (seems less to us) cannot be expanded upon as there’s no split fold facility, and it’s not an especially user-friendly shape either. Hence, the talk of a liftback design for the next XJ. The facelifted offering gets more active safety kit, and now includes a 360 degree camera, reverse traffic and driver fatigue detection but there’s no head-up display which should really be standard in a car of this ilk.

Other noteworthy gear includes a stonking Meridian sound system, four-zone climate air, heated screens, mirrors and seats (including for rear passengers), a warm wheel, self parking, a touch screen instead of a rotary controller device, and perforated leather sports seats. There’s also a carbon fibre engine cover for those into their underbonnet action.

For traditionalists, the XJR 575 is like a blast from the past, updated with some of the modern must-have safety, comfort and convenience items.

If you’ve half a mind, get in now because the next XJ is likely to be an EV. No, really. One thing’s for certain; it won’t have that roaring leonine soundtrack.

The Stats

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Model Jaguar XJR 575  Price $199,900

Engine 5000cc, V8, SC/DI, 423kW/700Nm

Transmission 8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive

Vitals 4.25sec 0-100km/h, 11.1L/100km, 264g/km, 1978kg

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