by Jay Traugott
We've known the Jaguar XJ for nearly a decade, and instead of quietly retiring it, Jaguar has decided to inject it with a life-threatening dose of steroids. The name XJR575 not only sounds mean, but it has the bark to match. The supercharged 5.0-liter V8 that it shares with other cars in the Jaguar Land Rover universe, pushes out a serious 575 horsepower and rockets the big cat to sixty in 4.2 seconds. It's got all the old world charm inside the cabin and delivers a surprisingly entertaining drive for its size. The XJR575 might have shot itself in the paw due to its starting price of $123,300, its aging infotainment tech, and questionable safety levels, but it's sheer presence and exclusivity makes up for most of that. Going up against the likes of the BMW 760i xDrive and Mercedes-AMG S63 is an intimidating task, but this old Jag has some British fighting spirit left in it still.
The fourth-generation Jaguar XJ range has been with us since late in 2010, and since then has enjoyed multiple updates and unique versions, with the XJR575 being one of the latest in an effort to keep this old gentleman on the road for a little bit longer. For 2019, Jaguar has updated the XJ range with auto emergency braking (rear-wheel-drive models only), updated graphics for the Touch Pro infotainment system with available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, as well as voice-command navigation.
The first thing that strikes you as you look at the exterior of the 2019 XJR575 is the sheer size of it. Only available in long-wheelbase format, the 575 takes up space with hawkish assertiveness, and combined with more aggressive body styling makes for a sedan with some serious presence. Thanks to its range-topping status, the XJR575 comes standard with all the bells and whistles, including some exclusive appearance parts such as a black mesh grille with gloss black surrounds, menacing hood vents and quad exhaust tips finished off in chrome. There are adaptive LED head and taillights with the integrated 'Double-J' LED daytime running lights. A set of 20-inch five-split spoke wheels in gloss black fill the arches, and approach and puddle lights safely light the way to the doors, which feature soft-touch close tech.
The 2019 XJR575 is only available in a long-wheelbase format, which means it takes the generously proportioned Jaguar and clips an extended spotted tail onto the back-end. Total length is measured at a generous 206.9 inches - 4.9 inches longer than the short-wheelbase XJ. The XJR575 stands 57.5 inches off the ground and is 82.9 inches wide with the wing mirrors fully extended. The jumbo Jag rolls on a lengthy 124.3-inch wheelbase. A curb weight of 4,156 pounds might sound hefty, but for a long-wheelbase luxury sedan, it's actually quite reasonable, especially when you take into account that it's 400 pounds lighter than the Mercedes-AMG S63.
Special edition cars deserve a unique palette of exterior colors, and that's exactly what the 2019 XJR575 gets. New owners will be able to choose from 14 unique colors, most of them available at no extra cost. Those interested in getting a black 575 will be pleased to know that Jaguar offers its big XJ in three different shades: Narvik, Santorini, and Farallon Black. The same goes for fans of silver and gray who can choose between Idus Silver, Corros Gray, Carpathian Gray, or the $7,345 Satin Corris Gray. Velocity blue is the second extra-cost color, fortunately costing a little less at just $4,080 and looking particularly striking. Call us nostalgic, but whenever we hear the words "fast Jaguar," we immediately jump to British Racing Green, and you should too.
Despite its LWB moniker, the XJR575 drives like a smaller vehicle, which is partly thanks to an all-aluminum body structure that helps the big cat keep its weight relatively low when compared to other LWB super sedans from the likes of Audi and Mercedes-Benz. The supercharged V8 that lurks beneath the aggressively vented hood of the 575 provides a rush of gut-crunching acceleration so severe that the wide 295/30R20 rear tires will sing every time you pin the throttle - Jaguar remains resolute in selling the XJR solely as a rear-wheel-drive sedan, instead of all-wheel-drive options like the Mercedes-AMG S63. The handling dynamics aren't as impressive as the brute straight-line speed, and the 0-60 mph time of only 4.2 seconds as quoted by Jaguar. The linear way in which the XJR delivers its power makes it comfortable to live with on a daily basis, and easy to exploit on your favorite stretch of back road, where it will reach a top speed of 174 mph, quickly followed by a trip to the local county jail.
The rear wheels of the 2019 XJR575 are faced with the task of transferring the 575 hp and 517 lb-ft of torque produced by the 575's supercharged 5.0-liter V8 to the ground; for the most part, it manages to do so in dry conditions, but falters when things get even slightly slippery. The supercharger provides a linear pickup in power from the bottom of the rev range all the way to the top, and never surprises the driver with sudden spikes in boost as you can sometimes find on turbocharged cars. Power is sent to the rear wheels exclusively via a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift and selectable driving modes. The auto is a good match for the engine, which would be left too unwieldy and aggressive for most if it had to be mated to a traditional manual transmission. Calm in the city, and crazy on the track is the best way to describe the engine and transmission combination, while the sound of a screaming supercharged V8 is simply impossible to beat. While turbocharged alternatives might sound decent, the XJR575 sounds downright feral breathing through the model-specific exhaust.
Trying to pilot a 4,156 pound, supercharged 575 hp long-wheelbase sedan around tight corners is always going to be a challenge, but the 2019 XJR575 makes that task surprisingly easy. Unlike other cars in this class that focus more on passenger comfort and less on outright performance, the Jag XJR575 manages to feel like a much smaller car, and manages to give some actual road feedback through the corners, where it remains relatively flat; a truly impressive feat for a car in this class. A full-size luxury sedan shrinking around the driver is not a common trait, but the Jaguar does so with aplomb, and in the process, it firmly cements its status as the driver's car of the luxury limo segment. It also remains purer than most, with a commitment to rear-wheel-drive. Sure, that means on slippery surfaces you're bound to encounter slippage, but the long-wheelbase means that breakaway is gradual rather than snappy, meaning the XJR575 is a big cat you can dance with, should you be brave enough.
Around town, the performance side of the XJR575 becomes more apparent, though, particularly when driving at low speeds. This is where it reveals a bumpy ride due to stiffer performance-tuned suspension. If you're looking for comfort over performance, then you're looking in the wrong place, as the XJR575 is more about poise than wafting along in supreme isolation, despite the self-leveling rear air suspension. It's still comfortable, but this is a limo designed with the focus on driving joy.
Teen environmentalist, Greta Thunberg, would organize a protest outside the nearest Jaguar showroom if she knew how much fuel the XJR575 likes to gulp down. It should come as no surprise that the 575 won't be the most fuel-efficient car on the road, not with a power output of 575 hp. Turbochargers scavenge waste gases to generate more power, essentially for free, but superchargers, on the other hand, add extra load to the system in their pursuit of potency. This becomes apparent when looking at EPA estimates of 15/23/18 mpg city/highway/combined - scary figures when a heavier, more powerful AMG S63 sedan only consumes 17/26/20 mpg. The Jag is fitted with a 21.1-gallon fuel tank, which gives it an estimated combined fuel range of 380 miles.
Jaguar cars have always had a way of making their occupants feel special, in a particular British smoking lounge kind of way, and the XJR manages to pull it off in sumptuous contemporary style. Step inside the 575, and you're greeted by a rather unassuming space that is typically British in the way it seems modest, but highly effective. The front half of the cabin is clearly focused on the driver, with an R-specific heated steering wheel and '575' embossed front sports seats with quilted upholstery, while the rear is dedicated to making two very lucky occupants feel as special as possible. The interior of the 2019 XJR575 features four-zone automatic climate control, soft-close doors, heated and ventilated front seats, as well as an electrically controlled rear sunblind and side window sun blinds. But while in appearance it may be all luxury, some cabin materials feel cheaper than a $120k+ asking price might suggest, and the inclusion of hard plastics - albeit in slightly out of reach places - just feels like cutting corners on the road to luxury.
The aggressive-looking front sport seats are heated and cooled and can be adjusted in 14 different ways, including four for lumbar support for both the driver and front-seat passenger. The three-mode memory system works for both front seats, and also remembers the driver's preferred wing mirror and steering column settings. It's a snug fit, with additional bolstering feeling a little out of place in a luxury sedan like this, but it aids the feeling of shrinkage when tackling a set of twisties, and doesn't come at the expense of the plush, lounge-like comfort on long journeys or dull commutes. The LWB moniker means this Jag gets more interior space, which is especially good news for those traveling in the back. Front legroom is measured at 41.5 inches, with headroom coming in at 39.5 inches, more than enough for six-footers. In the back, there's a massive 43.7 inches of legroom on offer, accompanied by 37.2 inches of headroom. The Jaguar XJR575 offers more interior space than the Mercedes S63 and only loses out marginally in terms of headroom throughout by a negligible amount.
Jaguar takes extraordinary care in their selection of interior material and color combinations on all XJ models, but the XJR575 has received extra attention. There are two options available in terms of leather color, with the quilted sports seats either upholstered in Ebony with Red Pimento contrast stitching, or Ivory leather with Ebony stitching. The seating surfaces consist of perforated quilted soft-grain leather with contrast stitching and the number 575 proudly embroidered on the seatback. The upper fascia is covered in soft-grain leather, including the door pannier, armrests, and center console lid. A suedecloth premium headliner and carbon fiber inserts tie the whole thing together.
The XJR575 was clearly designed with interior space and passenger comfort in mind, but Jaguar has managed to keep things practical as well, offering a total trunk space of 16.9 cubic feet, an impressive number for a full-size luxury sedan. Loading objects in the back is made easy by a power trunk lid with adjustable opening heights, and a wide opening bay with a relatively low liftover barrier. The only downside is the fact that you can't extend that space by folding the rear seats, so carrying longer objects is out of the window.
Small-item storage is taken care of, thanks to a center console with aux input, front and rear double cup holders, a front glove box. The door pockets offer limited space.
The XJR575 is packed to the brim with features that speak to its status as the top of the range XJ model for 2019. The exterior features a panoramic glass roof, full LED headlights with adaptive on/off tech, and a powered trunk lid with height adjustment. The interior is where things start to get serious: four-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a power-adjustable steering column with memory settings, and power sunblinds are some of the small details that make the 575 feel special; but it's the power-adjustable sport seats with heating and ventilation, heated leather steering wheel, and carbon fiber and aluminum surfaces that truly make it feel like an interior fit for a serious sports sedan. It gets a range of driver aids too, with standard features including cruise control - optionally adaptive - blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, front and rear park sensors, lane-departure warning, and the option of a 360-degree camera.
The 2019 XJR575, unfortunately, misses out on the latest InControl Touch Pro Duo infotainment system found in cars like the Range Rover Velar, but the regular Touch Pro system gets the job done, although it still looks old, despite updated graphics. The 10-inch touchscreen infotainment display received an updated graphics package for 2019, and transitions between menu screens are seamless. Inputs are quickly processed, and the whole experience feels intuitive. There's standard AM/FM functionality, HD Radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, and inputs via Bluetooth, USB, and auxiliary jack, while audio is fed through the standard 20-speaker Meridian 825-watt sound system with the option to upgrade to a 1,300-watt 7.1 surround sound setup. Hard-drive based navigation is equipped as standard, and for those who like to integrate their smartphones into their vehicles, 2019 has seen Jaguar introduce a no-cost Smartphone Pack for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.
Although there's no J.D. Power rating for the 2019 XJR575, the big Jag sedan has led a trouble-free life for the last couple of years. There has been one recall issued for the Jaguar XJ range in 2019 relating to a defective crankshaft bolt that affected a range of V6 and V8 Jaguar and Land Rover cars. Jaguar USA offers a competitive five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which includes a six-year/unlimited-mile corrosion warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile drivetrain warranty, five years or 60,000 miles worth of roadside cover and an impressive five-year/60,000-mile maintenance plan.
This 575-hp Jaguar hasn't been tested by any of the major rating agencies, not even in Europe; in fact, the IIHS last tested a Jaguar in 2008, so there's no real telling of how safe it will be in a severe accident. Other Jaguar models have performed well in European testing, though, and we doubt Jaguar would bring to market a passenger vehicle that wasn't capable of protecting you in the event of a crash. For 2019 Jaguar included new standard safety equipment across the XJ range, which should further increase crash prevention.
Just because the XJR575 hasn't been crash-tested on American soil doesn't mean it's void of safety features; in fact, it comes standard with quite a few advanced driver assistance systems. The exterior features full LED lighting front to back with adaptive auto headlights as well as a performance brake system. Inside, the driver gets assisted by cruise control with an auto speed-limit, blind-spot and cross-rear traffic alert, traffic sign recognition with auto speed limit setting as well as front and rear parking assistance. The parking assist system includes parallel, perpendicular, and exit modes. Lane departure and lane-keep assist, driver awareness assistance, and emergency forward braking are all included as standard. There are eight airbags and a trunk entrapment release switch that will free you from your XJR575 after that failed kidnapping attempt.
Considering all the compromises one has to make when designing a long-wheelbase luxury performance sedan, it is impressive what the team over at Jaguar has accomplished. In the flesh, the XJR575 looks stunningly intimidating with its flared sills and aggressive hood vents, but while it might seem like a hooligan turned gentleman on the outside, the inside is all about that old-world charm. The interior is a lovely place to be, and thanks to its lengthened wheelbase, there's miles of legroom in the rear. The infotainment system works well despite being one generation behind the latest models, and the seating arrangement and material choices are top-notch. It's out on the road where the big Jag impresses the most: it hides its weight with grace and impressive poise and offers the driver an engaging and enjoyable driving experience that's hard to find elsewhere in this class. The XJR575 sounds like it could be an all-round winner; but it's getting long in the tooth now, which really is its biggest flaw.
The 2019 Jaguar XJR575 starts with an MSRP of $123,300, excluding a destination fee of $1,025. While the six-figure price tag initially seems high, a Mercedes-AMG S63 commands more than $20k more, as does a BMW M760i xDrive, making the XJR575 seem like somewhat of a bargain. Optioned out, the XJR575 will cost you $138,751 before the destination charge.
The 2019 Jaguar XJR575 is a standalone model at the top of the XJ line-up. What that means is that you get the most exclusive features available for the entire XJ range. On the exterior side of things, that means full LED lighting with auto headlight control, and an exclusive 575 appearance package which consists of a blacked-out grille, hood vents, quad chrome tailpipes, 20-inch Gloss Black wheels, and extended side sills. The interior is covered in soft-grain leather and carbon fiber, with the seats getting quilted leather with contrast stitching. Standard four-zone climate control, cruise control, satellite radio, and navigation are but a few of the tech features worth mentioning. Driver assistance systems such as lane keep and lane change assistance, emergency forward braking, and front/rear parking assist are standard issue.
5.0-liter Supercharged V8 Gas
Starting with the exterior, new owners can opt for a set of 20-inch five split-spoke wheels finished off in a Technical Grey color scheme for an additional $1,530, or cough up $7,345 for a Satin Corris Gray paint job. The $999 Chrome Pack adds chrome mirror covers, sport pedal covers, and aluminum shifter paddles. For the serious businessman on the go, there's a $229 rear seat convenience pack, which adds headrest mounted coat hangers. The most noteworthy optional packages have to be the adaptive cruise control system, which costs $1,625, and the no-cost Smartphone Pack, which adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.
Additionally, several standalone options may pique interest, such as a heated windshield at $385 or a 360-degree surround camera at $815.
There's only one car to buy, so it would make more sense to tell you why you should buy it. With a starting price of $123,300, the exotic Brit has its work cut out for itself, but the big Jag shows its strong points in clever ways. Sitting at the top of the XJ model lineup helps: new owners get most of the available features Jag has to offer. That includes premium features such as intelligent LED headlights, quilted leather bucket seats, a Meridian surround sound system with 20 speakers and two subwoofers, and a whole host of smaller touches such as an auto-dimming rearview mirror, four-zone climate control, and soft-close doors. The interior is a beautiful place to sit in, thanks to quilted soft-grain leather seats with power adjustability and class-leading leg and headroom. Although no safety tests have been done on the XJR575, the standard list of safety features is impressive and includes automatic emergency braking, lane keep and lane change assist, driver awareness assistance, rear cross-traffic assist and blind-spot monitoring. The 575 is one of the most entertaining cars to drive in its class, giving it a significant leg up in the big performance sedan race.
The Mercedes-AMG is a German juggernaut of note which manages to carry those few fortunate enough to afford one of its products in supreme comfort at high rates of speed. Powering the big Merc sedan is a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that produces 603 hp and a massive 664 lb-ft of torque. That massive torque advantage makes the S63 feel punchier in the mid-range when compared to the Jag. Despite being more powerful and weighing over 400 lbs heavier than the XJR575, the AMG S63 will return 17/26/20 mpg city/highway/combined. The luxurious interior offers the same space as the XRJ575 but has a significantly larger trunk. On the road, the Mercedes-AMG is a better cruiser and soaks up road imperfections, but isn't as entertaining to drive. The Mercedes-AMG S63 is a more technologically advanced car, it's fast and it looks good, but the Jaguar is a better driver's car.
The BMW M760i xDrive is a middle-finger to downsizing and economizing. BMW took its range-topping 7 Series and dropped a 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 under the hood which produces 601 hp and 590 lb-ft. The 5,128 pound BMW will get 13/20/16 mpg city/highway/combined, and yet it will still run from 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds. Inside, the BMW takes on a more futuristic approach to its design and layout, which makes the Jag look ancient in comparison. Interior space is good, but the XJR575 offers more space in the back - however, the trunk of the BMW is larger than that of the XJR575. The BMW is a more accomplished cruiser, but also offers some impressive handling for such a sizeable car. It might not have the emotion of the Jaguar, but it is highly accomplished, and an easier car to live with on a day to day basis if you can stomach a nearly $30k price premium over the Brit.