Expert Reviews

Test Drive: 2018 Jaguar XJR 575

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This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
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I’ll put this right up front: if you’re fortunate enough to be debating which flagship sedan is most worthy of your investment of about $130,000, you need to get behind the wheel of a 2018 Jaguar XJR 575, lickety-frickin’-split, and for several reasons.

The performance will melt your face off.

First? The way this machine presents itself is off the charts. It’s a stunning combination of athletic and classy. Sporty, and luxurious. Flashy, and tastefully restrained. It’s like an Olympic sprinter in a tuxedo.

A nearly playful use of color, sculpting, and ornamentation generates massive presence. The 575 flaunts numerous styling touches unique to Jaguar, including the “Supercharged” slits in the hood, taillamps that sweep up into the rear decklid, and that oh-so-scowling face. Don’t miss the colorful little 575R badge on the trunk lid, or the brake rotors similar in diameter to a trash-can lid. Or, the red, VHS-cassette-sized calipers peeking out from behind split-spoke grey twenties. There are even proper exhausts hanging beneath the rear bumper, not cheesy fake finishers with little pipes floating behind them.

Taken as a whole, the 575 looks distinctive, engaging, and exclusive. Probably, when you see one in person for the first time, you’ll get that nervous twinge in your stomach that arrives when you’re in the presence of something very important.

Second? The interior, and for many of the same reasons. Nothing’s copied, nothing’s borrowed, and as a styling exercise, here’s a cabin that goes its own way.

After a flagship that’s equal parts luxury lounge and sci-fi spacecraft? That’s not what’s up here, and that’s fine.

The 575 uses less flashy interfaces and consoles and has about a third of the button-clutter you’ll see in a comparable A8, 7 Series, or S-Class. There isn’t even a gear lever sprouting from the centre console, since the 575 uses an inch-thick chrome dial that only emerges from the console at engine start-up. It all results in a simpler look, with less going on.

But, with controls and buttons reduced and confined, much of what you see when looking out from the 575’s driver’s seat is free of technological clutter. The visual emphasis is more on the quality and quantity of the leather, stitching, chrome, and piping, and less on gadgets and doodads. It’s a cabin sopping with detail and craftsmanship, and one keenly focused on flaunting an expert blend of assembly of high-end materials, not control pads. Don’t miss the massive carbon-fibre belt that swoops across the forward cabin, either.

Third? In this price range, the 575’s bang-for-the-buck is on par with a six-dollar case of dynamite. At about $130,000, this rear-drive-only machine gives you Jaguar’s most powerful XJ ever – complete with an arsenal of targeted performance upgrades, full performance badging and visuals, and more add-ons and upgrades than a Billy Mays infomercial.

You also get the better part of 600 horsepower, so there’s that.

It’s big power for big bucks – but bring that same cash to a Mercedes dealer, and you’re in an S-Class with 110 less horsepower, few if any options, and no sporting upgrades. The BMW M760Li offers a touch more power, AWD, and nukes the 575 in off-the-line acceleration, but it’s $35,000 more. The Audi S8 Plus is a threat: for about $10,000 more, you get two more drive wheels, and a tick over 600 horses. The Panamera Turbo approaches the 575 for output with 550 horses, but it will lighten your bank account by another $45,000.

Where priorities centre around maximum luxury and maximum performance bang for your 130,000-ish bucks, the 575 serves up an enticing invitation to open your chequebook.

How’s she drive?

Mostly, like a big, comfy, rocket-propelled luxury lounge.

Jaguar’s nailed the balance with this machine: the crushing performance does little to break the civility of daily driving, provided you’re accepting of a ride that’s a little on the stiff side, and a slightly heavyset feel at the steering, even at lower speeds. Though the performance will melt your face off like an overheated Pizza Pocket, it’s also absolutely road-trip ready, and more than easygoing enough for a day of running errands, too.

The ride is firm but not uncomfortable on rougher in-town roads, where the 575 feels stiff, substantial, and very dense – not flimsy and rattly. The huge output means drivers can breeze through city traffic without breaking 1,400 rpm, hearing much from the engine room, or ever feeling a gearshift. Drive it gently, and it’s no more difficult to live with than a Honda Accord.

Of course, with 575 hp at the ready, gentle driving conduct is a small part of this machine’s appeal.

The 5.0L V8 uses a belt-driven blower to shove chilled air and fuel into the engine when called upon, spiking output. The 575 hp are backed by nearly 520 lb-ft of torque, good for 0–60 mph in a little over 4 seconds. Some competitors, particularly with AWD, get off the line faster and without the perpetual threat of tire liquefication, but make no mistake: you will not test drive this car and wish for more thrust.

To get off the line fast, you’ll need to spend about one full second moving the accelerator to the floor, and to endure a brief moment of rear-axle jackhammering as the big tires do battle with the initial engagement of the supercharger. This method rarely trips the traction control into action, and sees the 575 fire ahead, straight as an arrow. By the time second gear arrives, the rear tires have found their grip, and the back of your head has found the front of the headrest, which you’ll hope has been reinforced to handle the impact. Oh, and all loose items in the centre console cupholders will be on the rear seat floor.

Get it cooking, and the performance is preposterous. Full-throttle acceleration leaves a tingling sensation in your temples as the blood is redistributed within your cranium, and it feels like someone heavy is sitting on your torso. The thrust is relentless: there’s a sense of surging action as the supercharger really gets breathing at higher revs, though you don’t ever distinctively feel it coming on-line, and can only hear it if you’re listening very closely.

A good throttle-smash instantly shifts the mood from luxury lounge to “OMGOSH, I’M STRAPPED INTO A TOMAHAWK MISSILE!!” Drop the hammer for more than three seconds once you’re already rolling, and you’re probably going to jail. Smash that throttle for a pass, and you’ll just about double your forward velocity in the length of an 18-wheeler, should you forget to lift.

The transmission is best left in Sport mode, where shifts are engaged with perfect timing and rhythm. Tuning of the gearbox in this application seems to have ramped the lightning-fast shift speed and response time common in other applications back a few notches though – manual mode shifts are entertaining, but not among the segment’s fastest or most instantly responsive.

All said, the 575’s throttle pedal feels like one end of a pulley system that connects the hood to the horizon ahead – you’re where you were just looking, almost right away. The output is absolutely too much, which will of course, help sell a lot of these.

A few notes. First, be very, very careful: tall gears, massive thrust, and the discernable shape to the power delivery make for a very provocative performance. The part of your brain that loves the feeling of acceleration will give the part of your brain that worries about speeding tickets an atomic wedgie, and a punch to the throat. It’s easy to get carried away.

Second, we know that Jaguar gets exhaust notes, often using them to turn heads with as much force as the styling. In the 575, the signature flutter-thud exhaust snort is present, but muted. They’ve kept the sound down – tastefully restrained, remember – to satisfy the folks with the chequebooks who want something a little on the quieter side. As a great big man-child, I wish the exhaust was about three times louder. It’s not too quiet, but almost.

Steering? Handling? Braking? Yes. Steering is heavy but quick, a go-kart-like feel with fast responses coming in line with your deliberate inputs, and that heaviness increases at higher speeds, making it easier to guide the 575 smoothly, and with precision, during high-speed maneuvers. In all, the steering is confidence-inspiring, a little playful, and nicely communicates the weight and attitude of the car back to the driver’s fingertips.

In the handling department, there’s a touch of softness around the edges to fend off discomfort, and all inputs go straight to the road after just a little compressing of the suspension’s springy bits. All said, the setup is highly entertaining, authentically composed, and athletic during hard use. It positively comes to life when pushed hard and is authentically thrilling – and all while maintaining ride quality in the ballpark you expect from a luxury flagship.

The brakes aren’t slotted or particularly special looking, but they are enormous. The feel at the pedal is dialled in beautifully, too: they’re precise, but not hyperactive during gentle use. Plus, the deeper you get into the pedal, the more precise and easy to modulate the system feels.

Elsewhere, there’s heaps of room for four adults, highly accommodating rear seats, and a slick widescreen touch interface that’s easily learned in a few minutes, provided you know how to work an iPad or similar technology. Don’t miss the very-high-resolution back-up camera, or the customizable all-digital instrument cluster. Further, remember that nobody does leather interiors like Jaguar, and you could lose yourself in the details and stitching in the leatherwork, which itself is so fragrant you’ll smell like it for hours after leaving the car.

Drivers out and about after dark will be impressed too: the 575’s headlights are not best in class, but satisfy nicely for potency and reach.

Gripes? Few typically present themselves in a car at this price point, though I did find two: my puny bank account was left crippled by the fuel bill after a week at the wheel, largely thanks to my inability to stay out of the blower’s effective range. And second, the styling, from some angles, is getting a little dated. We should see an all-new XJ some day soon.

A final observation: though the 575’s performance borders on brutally powerful, it’s an expert cruiser. On the highway, it’s both comfy and quiet enough to just sit back, relax, and socialize. You could take this one lapping on Friday night, drive the family to the movies on Saturday, and take your grandmother to church on Sunday, losing little in between.

It’s how luxury performance should be: there are a lot of things this car can do, and you’ll feel good doing all of them. If you’re after overkill-level posh-factor, luxury, and power output, it’s $130,000 very well spent.

Engine Displacement 5.0L
Engine Cylinders V8
Peak Horsepower 575 hp @ 6,250–6,500 rpm
Peak Torque 517 lb-ft @ 3,500–4,500 rpm
Fuel Economy 15.8/10.3/13.3 L/100 km city/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space 520 L
Model Tested 2018 Jaguar XJR 575
Base Price $35,398
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,795
Price as Tested $37,428
Optional Equipment
$135 – Metallic Pearl Paint $135