Jaguar is one of those models that appeals to the emotions and the heart, so this review could just say “The Jaguar XJR SWB is a sleek, powerful new Jaguar” and leave it there. The mere mention of this classic British marque is enough to press many people’s buttons, as love of the big cat can be overwhelming.
Nevertheless, when it comes to splashing out our hard-earned cash on a luxury vehicle like the Jaguar XJR SWB, it pays to use your head as well, so this review will have a bit more detail than that.
Naturally, the Jaguar XJR SWB looks the way a Jaguar ought to: sleek and smooth, even if the short wheelbase means it’s not as long and lanky as its other XJ siblings. The styling is modern with a classic twist, meaning that the body has a chunky and slightly aggressive appearance rather than the sophisticated curves of the Jags of 15 years ago. Little touches of chrome add that bit of opulent detailing that a luxury sedan like this car needs. One thing that you’ll find on this brand new Jaguar XJR SWB is the sunroof, allowing natural sunlight (with the UV filtered out) to illuminate the leather-upholstered interior. On the topic of the interior, there’s not just the classic look of soft-touch leather and trim in black or woodgrain – there’s also the soft blue lighting adding a smart high-tech look to the interior. There is a range of exterior and interior colour choices, from traditional British racing green on the outside and black leather on the inside to a brown shade known as “caviar” and red leather on the inside.
You wouldn’t expect a Jag to have anything that wasn’t up to scratch under the beautifully designed bonnet. The Jaguar XJR SWB does not disappoint in this department. This is the most powerful of the XJ range (that’s what the R in the name means). The powerplant here is a 5-litre V8 engine and when it begins to roar, it certainly means business! They’ve had to limit the top speed at 280 km/h, but if that limitation wasn’t there, this car would go much, much faster still. What else would you expect with 404 kW of power (at 6500 rpm) and 680 kW of torque across the 2500–5500 range? All this force is there for you to play with via the 8-speed automatic transmission. In spite of this raw power, the Jaguar XJR SWB does have a gentler edge that isn’t quite so in-your-face about petrol consumption, thanks to the intelligent stop/start function that cuts the engine out when you come to a standstill and restarts the powerplant once your foot leaves the brake pedal.
One very interesting and innovative feature inside the Jaguar XJR SWB is the virtual instrument panel. This does away with the fixed instrument panel of the past. Instead of a standard dash, you have a screen that displays virtual instruments that look like the analogue dials of the past. However, if an alert message needs to get to you, the tachometer disappears and the warning takes its place. You can customise the virtual instrument panel, too. This panel complements the 8-inch colour touch screen display for the satellite navigation (where you can ask the map to show you the nearest petrol stations if the fuel is getting low), the sound system, the Bluetooth link with your mobile phone for hands-free communication – and more!
Jaguars are all about driving pleasure, so there are plenty of other convenience and comfort features inside the Jaguar XJR SWB to ensure that you don’t have a single bad moment. This starts with the important things like the active safety features (and you certainly need them with a car this powerful), which include the dynamical stability control package, the blind spot sensors, the adaptive cruise control and the emergency brake assist (and you need good brakes with a car this powerful). It also includes the climate control, which can be dual zone or four-zone (it’s your choice and you can control it via the touch-screen display panel). The seat can also be electronically adjusted via this control centre.
In a nutshell (probably a walnut shell, given the use of walnut veneer in some Jaguar XJR SWBs), this is a car that offers pure luxury and driving pleasure combined with raw power. But would you expect anything else from Jaguar?