The Panamera has undergone a lot of changes for 2014; enough for Porsche to claim this is the second generation of the four-door model. The big news this year is that for the first time ever, the Panamera will be available in two body styles: regular and long-wheelbase “Executive.” Stretched-out Panameras will be available in…
2014 Jaguar XJR-L Review
For Passengers and Drivers
You’re rich. Some may even call you “filthy rich.” You are a self-made, dedicated individual who worked hard for every penny. You’ve earned your fortune, not inherited it. But life is not a bore; you like to play as hard as you work. You need a car that reflects this.
|Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V8 pumping out 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque.
Transmission: eight-speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels.
Fuel economy: 15 mpg city, 23 mpg highway. Average as tested: 18.1 mpg.
Price: $119,895 to start, our lightly optioned test car costs $122,375.
Something like an executive limousine that thinks it’s a sports car. You want a vehicle that can be chauffeur driven during the week while you conduct important business in the back, but double as a weekend warrior attacking back-roads like Kowalski in “Vanishing Point.” This sounds like a job for the 2014 Jaguar XJR long wheelbase.
After a five-year hiatus, the “R” designation returns to the XJ lineup for 2014. Available with a short or long wheelbase, the R takes the already potent supercharged XJ Supercharged and transforms it into an English hooligan. More than just a badge and paint makeover, the R receives substantial upgrades inside and out. But it is the heart of this beast that makes us the most excited.
More Power Never Hurts
Lurking under the vented bonnet is the 5.0-liter supercharged V8 from the Jaguar XKR-S pumping out 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque. That is an increase of 40 hp over last year’s XJ Supersport and an 80-hp increase over the XJ Supercharged. Like all XJs, this engine is hooked up to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Unfortunately, the programming seems less responsive than we found with the eight-speed automatic in the F-Type. In regular drive mode, gear kick-down is delayed and goes through multiple cogs instead of finding the lowest possible option. That’s a suitable trait for a luxury limo, but not so for one with an “R” on the trunk lid and 550 hp. Sport mode improves the transmission’s haste a bit, but not by enough. The paddle shifters are unable to coax the transmission into responding quickly either.
Thankfully the engine picks up the slack. There is so much power on tap, the car will accelerate at any speed with ferocious velocity. It’s like driving an ocean freighter with a rocket booster. Jaguar claims the car can go from 0-60 mph in just 4.4 seconds on its way to a 174 mph top speed. It is impossible to exploit the speed of this car has within legal limits; it’s so fast and composed on the road, the XJR makes all speed limits seem painfully slow.
Lighter than the Competition
The secret to the rear-wheel drive XJR’s speed is a lightweight body. At only 4,153 lbs., it is substantially lighter than the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Audi A8 L. A downside to lighter weight and high levels of power is traction; or a lack thereof. With near freezing temperatures and 295 mm wide high performance summer tires, putting power to the ground was a constant battle. Too much pressure from the accelerator and the tires vaporize. Corner with even a hint of aggression and the car will slide.
Although it may weigh less than its rivals, the car still tips the scales in excess of two tons and with an overall length of 206.8 inches, the XJ is longer than a Lord of the Rings movie; not exactly the specifications sports car dreams are made of. Despite this, the big Jaguar is highly capable in a set of switchbacks and grips the road with surprising vigor, behaving more like a mid-size sports sedan than an especially long executive shuttle.
Flash and Elegance Inside
But this does not mean the car is a rebellious delinquent; everything is prim and proper inside with only a subdued Jaguar V8 bark alluding to the car’s true potential. Well OK, the optional bright red leather seats may not please the opera and lawn bowling crowd but we love them. Not only do they look great, but the seats are also very comfortable thanks to 18 modes of adjustability.
Perfect for our cold wintery test period, rumps will roast in no time at all thanks to one of the most intense seat heaters we have ever experienced. The Meridian sound system is equally intense, gaining praise from drivers and passengers alike as it pounds out a clean, deep sound; everything from Bob Dylan to Bach sounds better in the XJR.
Rear Seat Lounge
Warm and entertained, rear seat passengers will also be able stretch out. The extended wheelbase XJ gains nearly five inches of total length, all of which translates to extra rear legroom. Now measuring a massive 44.1 inches, that is more rear space than can be found in the Audi A8L W12, Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG or BMW 760Li.
However, the XJ is saddled with a relatively cramped 37.2 inches of rear headroom, which is less than all three German rivals. This forces taller rear seat occupants to sprawl out when sitting in the back The trunk is also on the small side at only 15.2 cubic feet; all the extra space gained from the stretched chassis clearly went into the back seats.
Of course, no “R” treatment would be complete without a few exterior tweaks here and there. A more aggressive front splitter, side sill and rear spoiler complete the aerodynamic upgrades while the hood receives the usual “R” branded vents on either side. With the blacked out wheels and black paint job, the XJR looks meaner than an eighth grade bully and handsome like Sean Connery in a Tuxedo.
Of course this car is not cheap, starting at $119,895 our lightly optioned test car came in at $122,375. However, that is cheaper than many other high-powered executive limos like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series. But, if history is any indication, expect the full-size Jaguar to continue to sell in smaller numbers than its German rivals. That could actually come as an added bonus to those who do purchase the XJR as aside from the looks, power, sound and luxury, the XJR will also have a certain aura of exclusivity.