It  is pretty hard to get excited about a model that has been around since 1968 and basically looks the same.  Comfortably familiar, yes, but excited? Not usually!  The Jaguar XJ Series is known for refinement.  It is known for its distinctive appearance, its bloodlines, and its regal bearing. Close to a million of them have been sold, almost half of all Jaguars sold, so obviously what it has is what a lot of people want.  But few customers or reviewers have ever been surprised by the XJ Series.  It is, to put it bluntly, what it is and has never pretended to be more.

All of the above are valid statements unless you hop behind the wheel of the performance version of the XJ, named the XJR.  Then your attitude will need a serious adjustment for the XJR is a radical shift from stately and regal and more in line with reckless and footloose. 

Two major changes were made in the production of the Jaguar XJR: first, the wheelbase was shortened and second, a supercharged engine was added.  The 4.2-liter V8 engine has 400 horses backing it and yet is lighter than any of its earlier engines and in fact lighter than any of its German counterparts.  Add power, decrease poundage, and you have the XJR doing the 0-60 sprint in five seconds flat.  And the truly remarkable thing about it all is that the XJR does it all in such a quiet manner.  An estimated 3000+ rivets hold the panels together and unworldly insulation keeps noise to a minimum.  In other words, this beast of the jungle has some serious albeit silent bite. 

None of the expected interior luxuries have been tossed aside in making the XJR, and the air suspension and stability controls deliver a wonderfully smooth ride around town or in the country.  It isn’t until you try doing hairpin turns at sixty do you sense the steering and stability might be a wee bit lacking but seriously, why would you do a hairpin turn at sixty?

Under optimum driving conditions the Jaguar XJR got a remarkable 30 mpg but realistically in everyday driving conditions one could expect closer to 18 mpg.  Still, not bad for a huge, hungry engine. 

Price is of course a serious consideration and why ruin a glowing report by mentioning that most of us will never be able to afford one of these beauties?  Apart from that financial glitch this is a truly remarkable European import that was born of some time-honored British principles like class and elegance but morphed into a supercharged cousin of the original XJ.