This cat knows how to cruise/ MOTORING

Thanks to its supercharger, the Jaguar XJR mixes Ferrari-like speed wit h old-fashioned luxury, says Richard Bremner

Supercharged Jaguar. Just savour the words for a moment. There is an old-fashioned resonance in them, one suggestive of magnificent machinery - the Flying Scotsman for instance, or something Isambard Kingdom Brunel might have fangled. The new Jagu ar XJR, as the supercharged beast is officially labelled, has that same presence, an aura of authority that was once the preserve of steamships, locomotives and pre-war Bentleys.

The XJR shares with the Le Mans-winning 1928 Bentley Four-and-a-Half-Litre a supercharger and a character that is emphatically and eccentrically British. Its sensuous bodywork hints at silken muscularity, while its leather interior looks as inviting as the idea of a Sunday afternoon by the fire. Like most luxury saloons, it promises comfort and speed, but what marks this car apart is the suggestion that driving it will engender a particular feeling of well-being.

Just as its subtly aggressive demeanour suggests, performance of memorable potency is duly delivered. Coupled to an automatic transmission, the cat will leap to 60mph in 6.6 seconds and, not very long after that, broach 155mph. Equipped with manual transmission, if you are prepared to endure the bothersome task of actually changing gear aboard this luxury saloon (and few owners will be), it will bound to 60mph in a lightning 5.9 seconds. And that, should you be wondering, is Ferrari-fast.

The XJR achieves all this through the ministrations of a supercharger which, in simple terms, is a bloody great pump that force-feeds the engine its combustible diet of fuel and air. The American-made supercharger is belt driven by the engine, and generates 10psi of pressure, relatively modest for such a device, but sufficient to swell the standard car's 249 horse corral to 326bhp.

More impressive still is a torque figure that burgeons to 3781b ft compared to the 2891b ft of the ordinary engine.

Yet it delivers its speed with subtlety, so much so that it is sensible to glance at the speedometer frequently if you're not to garner a starring role on Gatso films. Of course, you can hear the engine working at speed, the straight six issuing a lovelythrob at half effort, the supercharger overlaying this with a mild but intriguing whine. But, this Jaguar is quiet, its silence the main weapon fooling you into believing that you're travelling more slowly than you are. Comfort comes a close second. Following a far-reaching facelift intended to expunge the many irritations that beset cabin life aboard the previous generation Jaguar saloon, it is now possible for all but the most amply dimensioned drivers to settle comfortably, aided by a height trimmable seat and a tilt adjustable steering wheel.

I found myself switching gear just to challenge it, but always the ratios were exchanged with grace, delicacy and speed. The Jag's suspension is almost as accomplished. This is a big car, but it can be hustled along with unexpected facility. Really ambitious cornering will have the body swaying, but this isn't surprising in view of the car's bulk and its relatively soft springing.

The Jag's biggest flaw, however, concerns accommodation, or the lack of it. In theory there is room for five in this car, but in practice only four will ever be comfortable.

But that's the only major disappointment in a car that has been overhauled to exceptionally good effect. All of these XJs are vastly better than before, and all remain exceptional value for money. But the XJR is something really special.

SPECIFICATIONS JAGUAR XJR 4.0 £45,450 Engine: six cylinder, double overhead camshaft, 3980cc, 326bhp at 5,000rpm, 378lb ft of torque at 3,050rpm. Four speed automatic gearbox. Performance: 0-60 in 6.6 seconds, top speed 155mph. Fuel consumption: 23.4mpg.

COMPARISONS AUDI A8 £46,699 New age luxury saloon whose lightweight aluminium body improves performance and economy, though not hugely. Very roomy, elegant interior, and plenty of equipment as standard. Four-wheel drive provides terrific high-speed security and sound handling, even if it is not as wieldy as the Jaguar or BMW M5.

Despite 300bhp from a 4.2 litre V8, it is outsprinted by both, but does well given that it is designed to deliver luxury rather than the ultimate sporting drive. Undermined by a knobbly country road ride, but an imposing, appealing machine none the less.

BMW M5 £52,480 A bit of an old stager, but none the worse for that. Massive power, massive wheels and massive brakes ensure a sterling experience for the keen driver, who will enjoy searing performance and near-race car handling. But at a price: this caris significantly more costly than the Jag, and a few options will easily tip it the wrong side of £60,000. For the enthusiast driver, the better car, but, compared to the Jag, its interior is a little cold and antiseptic. Beginning to look dated now, too.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

    £30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

    Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

    £34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

    Developer - WinForms, C#

    £280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform