Jaguar XJR575 Review - The old school super saloon that's a breath of fresh air
It's safe to say that superchargers have lost the battle for forced induction supremacy in the 21st Century. Turbochargers have become the Grey Squirrel of the powertrain world, dominating and ousting the Red, native supercharger from every corner of its automotive habitat. Jaguar has been a sanctuary for the crankshaft-driven air pumps for decades and the marque is still holding true to its cause with its latest luxury performance saloon, the XJR575.
The most powerful XJR ever made was presented to me on a crisp Thursday morning within the Portuguese vineyards of Porto. And hearing the blown V8 crack into life, I knew that my first proper car launch for DriveTribe would be one to remember.
What does this massively powerful saloon have going for it then? Well it turns out, rather a lot.
It looks far more aggressive than any of its competitors
Car design genius Ian Callum has some achingly beautiful cars on his resume, with stuff like the Nissan R390 GT1, Jaguar F-Type and Aston Martin Vanquish only skimming the surface of his long and successful career. The XJR575 is another brutishly elegant addition to his portfolio, with its bonnet bulge originally sourced from the E-Type flanked by clear cutouts, each inscribed with the oh-so-Jag 'supercharged' scripting.
Huge gaping grilled intakes make the XJR575's overall aesthetic much more angry and provocative than its German rivals, something that will definitely make it appeal to the discerning gentleman that still enjoys a good old powerslide out of the golf club car park.
The supercharged V8 is getting on a bit, but I don't care
Jag has stuck with its thunderous 5.0-litre supercharged V8 for the 575, adding 25PS to the tune of the previous XJR. If we're talking bhp, the magic number is 567, bringing it just short of the 592bhp offering in the limited edition XE SV Project 8. It does seem that Jaguar has finally fulfilled every possible recipe to be squeezed out of its legendary V8, with the basic block housing itself under Jag's bonnets for a remarkably long time.
With every other luxury saloon now lodged firmly into the turbocharging camp, the XJR575 is possibly the last stalwart of the supercharged XJ line, unless the engineers at Coventry decide to justify the wailing powertrain with a bit of hybridised help. It's a glorious engine that truly growls its way up its rev range in a wonderfully linear fashion, filling my mind with an imaginary graphic of what I imagine is a scarily flat torque curve.
It may not be the most efficient solution and driving the supercharger from the crank will forever have its downfalls, but once the 5.0-litre powerplant is set alight with a firm throttle input, you're left hoping that Jag somehow keeps to its supercharging 'roots'.
It has fought off all-wheel drive and is all the better for it
When reading the initial specs of the 575, I was sure that it would feature an idiot-proof all-wheel drive system, something that Jag is bleeding into its range more prominently these days. So it was a bittersweet moment when I realised that the XJR was in fact sending all of its titanic power to the rear wheels, just in time for the heavens to descend on the previously sweltering Portuguese countryside.
Despite initial apprehension, the big Jag uses its weight to make the whole driving experience a little more reassuring considering the grunt it possesses. Along with a traction control system to keep the rear tyres from tearing themselves off of their rims, the 575 utilises an undriven set of front wheels to give the car a much more impressive turn-in than you'd expect. With BMW, Mercedes and Audi all now leaning heavily on their all-wheel drive systems, it's refreshing to feel the freedom that the Jag has at its front axle.
Like virtually every Jaguar on sale, it manages to carry its weight fairly well despite a kerbweight in kg that almost starts with a two. Although the XJR still feels massive when you're behind the wheel, each wheel can be accurately placed wherever you want it, with very little roll coming into play even when your driving becomes less luxury and far more performance.
It's quick, but not obscenely so
567bhp is genuine supercar levels of power and shouldn't be taken lightly. It's crazy that nowadays a performance saloon can't really be badged as such without at least having an output that starts with a five and is followed by a couple of zeros, so Jag has kept the XJR relevant by giving it an SVR-spec powerplant.
The throttle helps bring theatre to the car thanks to an extra inch of 'hammer time' pedal travel that is almost switch-like. Press the throttle gradually towards the carpet and the supercharger will predictably sing its linearly accelerative song. You then reach a little restriction - push past this with a further stamp and the supercharger suddenly becomes a howling banshee and seems to convert its high-pitched scream into a constant surge of torque.
Does it feel near-600bhp fast though? Probably not, considering it has nearly two tonnes to haul about. In the shape of an F-Type or XE, I imagine that kind of power can mangle your insides for hours after a quick blast along your favoured road route but in the 575 it was slightly numbed. It wasn't slow by a long stretch. And having driven many miles in a 400bhp family S-Type R, Jaguar has certainly given the XJR575 a powertrain worthy of its 'R' badge, but it won't leave you gasping for breath after a combination of heavy accelerations and thuggish corner exits.
It is the perfect finale before the hybridisation of JLR
With a few of Jaguar's models now becoming a little long in the tooth, the electrical revolution is beckoning the leaping cats away from the comforts of tradition. With JLR looking to fully electrify every model coming off its production line by 2020, there's no room for the petrol-guzzling supercharged lumps that haven't seen a true overhaul in many years.
It'll be a sobering change but a necessary one, so - in light of the road JLR is taking - getting to drive a Jag saloon with nearly 600bhp is something that has been etched into my fingers and toes for when I step into future generations of XJR.
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