At the 2007 Western Automotive Journalists Media Day there was the opportunity to drive the XJR on the street and at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway and compare the car to
other luxury sports cars in its class.
The 2007 XJR has the taut feline haunches of a muscular cross-country athlete ready to run the distance. With "only" 400 hp at 6100 rpm and 413 foot pounds of torque at 3500 rpm on premium unleaded from the 4.2 liter 90 degree V-8 you might think that Jaguar is conceding the horsepower race to BMW and Mercedes.
0-60 arrives in 5.0 seconds between one and two tens of a second slower than the hot rods offered by BMW and Mercedes. There are no "latest craze" shift-paddles on the steering wheel of the XJR. It does not need them. These were standard on the new V-10 BMW M6, and for good reason. Unless you can figure out how to program, and switch around to your favorite settings on the BMWs, you have you drive it like you stole it to get it going. The V-10 offers surprisingly little torque until you wring the engine until it screams.
Fun now and then, but not as a regular diet. The "Big Merc" at least offers reasonable torque, but tips the scales with several hundred pounds of additional road hugging weight that becomes apparent when a change of direction is called for. With a 3958 pound curbweight, 0 to 60 acceleration of the Jaguar can snap your neck if inattentively flog the go-pedal.
Press the Sport Button on the center console and the XJR tightens up to feel like a BMW M5 but without the "a-bit-too-stiff ride." Button on, you get very precise response to steering inputs, the car feels much smaller in size. For the first time Jaguar has hit the nail on the head and matched BMW for road feel and near perfect control in large sedan. Shut of the Sport Mode off and "ahhh" it's a Jaguar again. The 119 inch wheelbase leaves room for quite adequate space for all.
Allow yourself to be absorbed by the perfectly cushioned Jaguar seats. Surprisingly, the fashionable 20 inch BBS wheels with 255/40ZR rubberband tires don't make the ride harsh or annoying. Turn on the concert-hall sound system and waft off to your destination. You have 22.5 gallons of fuel, lambswool floormats and a regulated top-speed of 155mph to travel in quiet, road-noise insulated grace.
The six-speed automatic will keep the rpms down to the putter-down-the-road 1,300 to 2,000 rpm while cruising until or unless power is required. Why does this matter ? Because with the BMW M5 the V-10 sucked gas to the tune of 13.5 mpg (and it's 500 pounds lighter than the M6) where the supercharged Jaguar returned 18.5 mpg with equally vigorous driving.
The interior of the Jaguar also shows-off the subtle improvements that Jaguar has made over the last few years. Fitment matches Audi and the best of the somewhat ill-handling, premium Japanese sedans.
Jaguar's XJR offers wood and leather in the traditional English way. Now it offers BMW M5 handling, an Audi-class interior with Jaguar comfort, and pleasing fuel economy. Great job Jaguar, your focus on incremental improvements has really made the XJR a marvelous car to drive.