New Jaguar XJR pays homage to XJR-9LM racer of yesteryear with Le Mans champion behind the wheel [+Video]

First introduced to the world in 2010, the Jaguar XJ represented the Coventry-based company’s premier limo that’s geared toward taking on German industry heavyweights such as Merc’s S-Class, Bimmer’s 7-Series and Audi’s A8; just to name a few. These solid performers have all received new leases of life today, and five years later, Jaguar has opted to kit the XJ out with a refreshed look and some toys to go with – particular the LED headlamps. However, here’s one oddity. reported that sales performance of the XJ in the North American region recorded some 4,300 units in 2014, which pales in comparison to BMW and Lexus who both sold over twice the amount. That’s nothing, though, because Mercedes-Benz sold six times more S-Classes than the XJ! Now, what does the S-Class have that the XJ doesn’t? Well if the prevailing reason for that sales slump was all about its looks, then it seems that Jag has come to the rescue. Not only that, but they brought the facelifted XJR out to play with a Le Mans champion and his car.2015-Jaguar-XJR-Silverstone-2

Enough about sales figures and performance indexes. This new Jaguar XJR is the company’s flagship battle cruiser with all the bells and whistles chucked in it, including a slightly tweaked 5.0-litre supercharged V8 that is producing over 540 rampaging British stallions and a pair of trick new LED headlights. In keeping with the theme, Jag invited Andy Wallace out to Silverstone for a day out with his old Silk Cut Jaguar LM racer and to sample the XJR.

At 542 hp, Andy Wallace should not break a sweat driving this uber-luxurious limousine around Silverstone when you consider that his old LM racer was a 7.0-litre V12 fire breather that churned out the better part of 750 hp while the engine wailed at 7,200 rpm with over 800 Nm of twist to boot. Not only that, but the XJR-9LM tipped the scales at just over 881 kg which would give it a power-to-weight ratio of 851 hp per tonne ! No one knew for an absolute certainty how fast these cars really were, but Wallace mentioned that it would do speeds of up to 240mph (387 km/h)! Food for thought?2015-Jaguar-XJR-Silverstone-3

Speaking of the immense speeds of racing, Wallace commented while driving the XJR at night around Silverstone, “it was so hard to see at night. We were travelling at around 240mph and it was too fast to see the road ahead. We used the lights more to catch glimpses of landmarks as they whizzed past, so we knew where we were. These days, modern road cars have incredible lights. LED technology allows you to see three times the distance we could back then, while active steer and bend also help target the lights to the places you want to see.”

At this juncture, Wallace wishes that the XJR-9LM that he piloted in 1988, had these LED headlights. For the want of proper headlights, he might have clenched the title. As part of the facelift, Jaguar now kits the XJ with its LED-headlight technology that’s coupled with the unique double J-Blade DRL’s. The LED headlights provide a colour temperature closer to that of daylight than the Bi-Xenon lamps they replace, improving visibility and driver comfort while also delivering a significant improvement in energy efficiency. Be sure to check out the video.



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