► Jaguar’s top limo gets 25bhp upgrade
► Now boasts 567bhp, 516lb ft and active diff
► Will drive passengers round bend – very quickly
If you were expecting full-on SVO fireworks, the Jaguar XJR575 may come as a disappointment.
While the new range-topping XJ may have the same 567bhp as the F-Type SVR, and feature a couple of bespoke Special Vehicle Operations paint options – including this rather fetching shade of Velocity Blue – Jaguar has sensibly restrained itself to a level of decorum from the exhaust that suggests it is deliberately encouraging you to hoodwink unsuspecting passengers until the exact right moment emerges.
At which point, it’s not so much the 516lb ft and potential 0-62mph in 4.4sec that will alarm them, as the abandon with which you can fling this 5m+ limo into the corners.
Want to go comfortably and quickly? Then the XJR575 could be the answer.
Surely no-one is going to mistake this for an ordinary luxury car?
You’ll probably not be wanting the blue paint – which is a bit of a shame because it seems Jaguar will have a large number of nearly-new examples available shortly, never raced or rallied – but the XJR575 can otherwise do the schmoozing thing quite commendably.
The ride is comfortable, the diamond-stitched seats suitably smart, and the refinement acceptably hushed. You might argue there should be less wind noise at speed, but you won’t be overwhelmed by the sound of eight cylinders thrashing the environment into mince unless you’ve got all the windows open and the right pedal in touch with the carpet.
It would appear this last is testament to Jaguar’s glaziers, however; if the number of thumbs up we were getting from random pedestrians is anything to go by, this car is considerably louder on the outside…
We digress. Simply put, sedately driven passengers are more likely to take umbrage at the mildly crass carbonfibre door trimmings and the limited adequacy of the (new) infotainment system. Which broke down as soon as we started trying to play with it.
The driver, meanwhile, will be sitting there waiting for someone to ask why the number 575 is so prominently visible in the middle of the dash.
Goes well does it?
All the way up to 186mph, if you ask it to. But as indicated above, it’s not the potency of the engine that’s really likely to get your victims squealing.
Sure, the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 up front is pokey, it’s just not as thumpingly demented as an AMG S-Class. Instead Jaguar has concentrated making magic with the chassis, which now benefits from an Electronic Active Differential.
This majors in massive traction – making this rear-wheel drive monster more than manageable on damp Portuguese mountain roads. There’s a slight jarring sensation coming back onto the throttle, otherwise you simply slingshot forward with barely a care in the world, instantly eyeing up the next corner.
It’s epically incongruous, really. Something this large should not be this easy to handle. Yet the predictable, neatly controlled way the XJR575 leans into its suspension is so superbly matched to the accuracy and sharpness of the steering that concerns over its size vanish into the distance like the traffic behind you.
Nothing else in this sector ever feels quite this light and nimble, and even the eight-speed auto that can seem out of sync lower down the Jaguar range raises its game here, providing smooth and timely paddleshift changes whenever they’re demanded.
Driven quickly, then, the XJR575 swiftly stops being a large car, and becomes merely a car – and in fact, a very satisfying one.
Worth considering then?
Depends on your priorities. If you want bleeding-edge bells and whistles, then you should turn away from the Jaguar dealership and run in the direction of any of the Germans.
That’s not to say that the XJ is bereft of kit – the ugly sensor panel in the grille is testament to radar-assisted active safety, and so forth – but the experience of these newer technologies is much more polished elsewhere.
Thing is, the clinical capability of Jaguar’s rivals has become almost interchangeable. Though the XJ is eight years old now, it still looks utterly distinctive on the outside, and if the inside offers up an olde worlde vibe, it too is at least different. If such individuality presumably puts off as many luxury buyers as it attracts, we’re glad Jaguar gives you the option.
That all sounds a little consolation prize, doesn’t it? So we’re even more pleased to report that the real reason you should consider the XJR575 is because it is so wonderful to drive. And if you need that in a limo, good on you.