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2017 XJR

The feral and ferocious XJR has returned to Jaguar's lineup. With a 550-horsepower V8, lightweight aluminum construction and the kind of lavish cabin that only the British can create, this high-performance variant of the full-size XJ sedan charms with a knockout powertrain and feline grace.

Don't let the XJR's understated looks fool you - this cat has claws. Crouched under the hood is a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 that produces a wicked 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque. Output flows to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission, and an electronic active differential maximizes traction for a zero-to-60 mph sprint of just 4.4 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 174 mph.

Despite its accelerative prowess, the XJR manages to return a relatively thrifty 15 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. A stop/start system that cuts the engine at idle is part of the economy story.

Also helping to optimize fuel economy - along with performance and handling - are aluminum-intensive body components, mechanicals and structural elements that result in a curb weight that's hundreds of pounds less than many of the XJR's rivals.

Like Jaguar's other R models, the XJR boasts a suspension honed on Germany's demanding Nuburgring track. Adjustable dampers help to minimize body motions by continuously monitoring driver inputs and road conditions and adjusting damping rates up to 500 times per second, while upsized brakes with 15.0-inch front and 14.8 inch rear vented rotors endow the big cat with considerable decelerative might. A retuned steering system gives the XJR's tiller more feedback and a higher level of responsiveness.

Though many other executive rockets wear their sporting intentions on their sleeve, Jaguar took a more understated approach to dressing up the already eye-catching XJ for R duty. A more aggressive bumper distinguishes the front end, and new additions such as a rear lip spoiler, hood vents and reworked side sills all look mean but also enhance the XJR's aerodynamics.

Inner Opulence

Futuristic in design yet traditionally British in its decadent execution, the XJR's interior builds on that of the normal XJ with jet black leather (including numerous inserts and stitching colors), black suede headlining, sports seats and a choice of carbon fiber or piano black trims.

High-tech touches - including full digital instrumentation and a rotary shifter knob that rises out of the center console when the sedan is turned on - contrast with old-world elements like a elegant analog clock mounted atop the dashboard.

Normal and long-wheelbase variants are offered, with the latter adding five inches of rear-seat space. It's truly palatial, although even the standard XJR has a generously-sized cabin.

Befitting its lofty price point, the XJR is equipped with nearly every luxury and technology feature that Jaguar has ever created. Highlights include heated and cooled front and rear seats, an 825-watt, 17-speaker Meridian surround sound system and a panoramic glass roof.

Jaguar's iTech infotainment system integrates audio, navigation and Bluetooth-based smartphone connectivity functions into a single unit - an eight-inch touchscreen display in the center of the dash. The setup can also be controlled via voice commands or traditional buttons and knobs located on the center stack and the steering wheel.

Standard and Optional Features

The XJR is fitted as standard with soft grain leather upholstery; a heated steering wheel; heated and cooled front and rear seats; a navigation system; an 825-watt, 17-speaker AM/FM/CD/DVD Meridian surround sound system with HD radio, SiriusXM, an AUX input and a USB port; Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming; four-zone automatic climate control a panoramic glass roof; front and rear parking aids; a proximity key; and 20-inch alloy wheels.

Highlights from the list of options includes a heated windshield and a massage function for the front seats. Buyers can also choose from a wide range of accessories such as chrome mirror covers, mud flaps, illuminated tread plates, a luggage net in the trunk and aluminum pedals.

Occupant Safety

All XJR models come with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

Key Competitors

Those in the market for a beastly full-size sedan like the XJR should also check out the Audi S8, the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG and the Maserati Quattroporte; all are incredibly fleet and coddling, yet each brings a distinct character and style to the table.