Jaguar’s newest performance offering, the 500 hp XJR is the first R in Jaguar’s new XJ lineup, and it’s most aggressive saloon to date. Breaking cover at the New York Auto show this week, the fast-cat is purposely designed to go head to head with the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes best performance sedans.

The Jag’s hotrod characteristics are provided via a 5.0 liter supercharged V8, boasting 550 hp and 502 lb.ft. of torque. These figures enable the four-door to do the 0-60 mph thing in only 4.4 seconds, or 0-100 km/h in 4.6 metric seconds. Electronically limited to a top speed of 174 mph (280 km/h) ensures things don’t get too crazy.

The all-aluminum quad-cam engine not only delivers the speed but also high efficiency thanks to a spray-guided direct injection (SGDI) system and dual independent variable cam timing (DIVCT). Quad-valve cylinder heads are constructed from recycled aluminum, which is nice, but the good stuff is nestled between – a Roots-type twin vortex supercharger fed by twin-intercoolers deals with the forced aspirational duties. The supercharger also comes with its own water-cooling feature that reduces pressurized air temperatures, thusly increasing air/fuel density, i.e. more power for the buck.

Managing the XJR’s power output is a performance tuned 8-speed automatic transmission. Using information from Jaguar’s XFR-S performance programming, gearing is formulated for optimal acceleration and engine braking in the mid-gears. But given the R’s dual-purpose mandate the gearbox is also designed to provide civilized inner-city shifting.

In automatic mode, the 8-speed gearbox monitors driver’s inputs – acceleration, braking, cornering, throttle and brake pedal activity, road load and kickdown are all monitored 500 times a second. But when the gearbox detects a move to more animated driving behaviors it automatically adjusts shifts patterns, raising the shift points higher holding the gear for a longer period. And there are of course the obligatory paddle shifters for the Playstation demographic.

Specially developed 20-inch lightweight forged alloy 'Farallon' wheels are shod about the cat’s four corners. Alloy wheels, merged with a low suspension and low profile 265/35 and 295/30 Pirelli rubbers not only fill out the Jag’s muscular wheel arches nicely but also address the upgraded handling requirements.

To ensure the XJR’s handling capabilities were in fact capable, Jaguar took and threw the cat about Germany’s Nürburgring track, a high speed circuit in England, and finished it off with a jaunty fling about the Gaydon R&D facilities in North Wales. All in all a very international affair.

Dynamic Stability Control in partner with Jaguar’s Electronic Active Differential are dialed in to properly administer and enhance the cars already impressive handling attributes. Dampers and spring rates are holistically at one with the cars dual nature, providing firmness and roll control under limit pushing procedures, while maintaining Jaguar’s required comfort characteristics under civilized driving situations. The XJR’s steering setup has also been retuned to provide quicker more responsive driver feedback.

On the outside the XJR is all Jaguar. A long fast, decreasing roofline finishes off the XJR’s cat-like profile rather nicely. A stretched out C-pillar pointedly intersects where the roofline and spoiler-lipped trunk-lid meet, while a rather large rear overhang makes the Jag out to be a tad arse heavy. Out front, nestled near the Jaguar’s iconic grille is a new front splitter to help with airflow and aerodynamics. And out back a tiny lip-spoiler not only provides a subtle design hit to the hefty backend but also increases downforce at speed.

Inside its Jaguar comfort as we know it. Jet leather trim is available in the XJR in a choice of Ivory, London Tan or Red Zone inserts on the seat facings. Seats are embossed with the 'R' logo and can be finished with a choice of stitching in either Red or London Tan. Jet suede-cloth headlining is standard with optional semi-aniline leather and veneers in either Carbon Fibre or Piano Black.

Acoustically speaking the XJR comes standard with a 380 W, 12-speaker surround-sound system from Meridian. An optional 825W, 18-speaker system featuring Meridian's Trifield System is also available.

The last word goes to Ian Callum, Jaguar’s Design Director: “The new XJR is the sporting pinnacle of the XJ range. This car has been dynamically set-up from the outset to deliver stunning performance, while still retaining the luxury and comfort common to the entire XJ range. The XJR has all the breadth of capability you could wish for in a high-performance luxury saloon car."

The promo video below gives us a taste of Jaguar's new performance saloon.

Source: Jaguar

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