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Car Review: 2018 Jaguar XJR 575

Driving.ca logo Driving.ca 2018-02-09 David Booth
a car covered in snow© Provided by Driving.ca

It’s hard to describe Jaguar‘s long-wheelbase XJR “575” as just one massive male protuberance. I mean, what else can you really say about a car that is: A) way bigger than it needs to be, at 5,255 millimetres from bumper to bumper, B) has more horsepower — 575, as a matter of fact — than any limousine driver will ever be able to use, and C) is almost universally bought by men?

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Now, nevermind that at least some of those customers are — oh, what’s the polite word for it? — compensating. Let’s even stipulate that, yes, all said men are rich, and yes, that comes with its own set of ego issues. I’ll even grant you that, in these days of income inequality and one-percenters dominating world economies, that something so big and obviously hedonistic is a bit of a stick in the eye to, well, you and I.

That may be all true, and no, I haven’t even touched on its loutish fuel economy, difficulty to park and, my Lord, its insurance costs. None of it matters: The Jaguar XJR 575 Long Wheelbase — even its name is, uhm, long — is the best big Jaguar in decades and, truth be told, because I am now part of that aging demographic more comfortable in a big plush sedan than a low, lithe roadster, the Jag I would buy if I were suddenly rich and a little short on testosterone.

You only have to say one word — OK, one number — and the whole thing makes sense. Five hundred and seventy five horses is a lot in anyone’s book, but the way Jaguar’s uber-boosted supercharged 5.0-litre V8 literally gushes out torque is as addicting as House of Cards – or, at least, before Kevin Spacey got #MeToo’ed. Even on completely dry roads, its 517 lb.-ft. of torque challenges traction has those big P295/30ZR20 Pirelli winter tires in the rear spinning like a mad thing until the traction control kicks in. Yes, throttle response is git-up-and-go quick, and yes, those 575 horses are only going to the rear wheels. “Thuggish,” Top Gear calls  this combination of mondo-boosted V8, eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel-drive combination. I prefer magical.

It actually doesn’t drive as big as it is. That might be because it is not as big as it looks. Despite measuring 5,255 millimetres stem-to-stern — virtually the same as a long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz S-Class — it weighs, thanks to an all-aluminum superstructure, a semi-reasonable 1,885 kilograms. Now 4,147 pounds is hardly svelte, but compared to the other behemoths that prowl the long-wheelbase luxury sedan segment, might as well be made of balsa. Hence, the modicum of feel to the steering and the relative lack of sway to its cornering. No, the handling doesn’t match the horsepower — you’ll have to head to the F-Type SVR for that — but neither does it hold back the shenanigans.

You can fit a basketball team — or at least, the centres — in the back seat. Despite the fact that it goes like a scalded cat, this is one roomy sedan. One hundred twenty-one of those aforementioned 125 millimetres are put right into the rear seat legroom, which means that Dikembe Mutombo — the only man who might have had been able to “stuff” LeBron James, had they played in the same era — might find a modicum of comfort getting ferried around. From the front seat, the 575 feels like a hot-rod. In the back, a limo. Not a bad combination.

Despite all the aforementioned emphasis on performance, the big Jaguar still rides well. Oh, it doesn’t coddle as a regular XJs might — or a Mercedes or Lexus, for that matter — but it’s just fine. I promise you, you’ll be so busy giggling every time you hit the gas you won’t notice the pebble in the road. More importantly, since the 575 is the only V8-powered XJ Jaguar is importing for 2018, you’ll have to get used to its firmishness if you want its baritone.

The interior is well plush, too. Befitting a sedan with pretensions of sportiness, there’s plenty of carbin fibre about, the leather is exquisite and Lordy, can the Meridian sound system ever pump out Enya. I’m not sure if it’s because there are 26 speakers to be found in the XJR or the result of all those 1,300 watts carrying me on waves to lands I’ve never been, bit, man, this thing rings clear as a bell. Interestingly, the XJ’s now-older generation Touch Pro infotainment system isn’t nearly as attractive as the newer version on the Range Rover Velar, but it is easier to use.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but the XJR 575 LWB’s $126,500 is relatively reasonable. Consider this; the equivalent Mercedes-Benz, the AMG S63, costs $163,500 and doesn’t proffer the same thuggishness Top Gear waxed on about, though it does have all-wheel-drive. Ditto for the BMW M760Li xDrive, which, though it sports four more pistons, doesn’t feel substantially more fleet and costs $162,200. Even Jaguar’s own F-Type SVR, with which it shares an engine, costs $139,500 despite having, well, less of everything except motor. Yes, a hundred and a quarter is a nice RRSP, but it’s still chump change compared with the competition.

But the real reason you’ll want the XJR 575 is because it’s the first big Jaguar sedan in an age that is relevant. I gave a couple of pupils from my Puking-with-Dave Saturday morning boxing class a ride home, and they were so thrilled they Snapchatted the entire event to all their buddies. The last time someone chatted Snapchatted an XJ, it was called taking a Polaroid. If the new 575 is cool to 14-year-old wannabee rappers, that means it’s hip to everyone. Even if the only people who can afford it are testosterone-deficient geriatrics.

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