What is it:

The 2014 Jaguar XJR is the long-awaited performance version of Jaguar's sleek XJ luxury sedan. It's packing a whopping 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque, which comes from a supercharged 5.0-liter V8. That makes it the most powerful XJ available. The result is a 0-to-60 time of just 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 174 mph. The sole transmission is an eight-speed automatic, which will help return 15 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.

How much:

A base-level XJR starts at $116,000, while a long-wheelbase commands $119,000 before options.

When can you get it?

Third quarter of 2013

Add it to your shopping list because...

The latest XJ debuted in 2011 with sleek styling and a modern interior. But for shoppers who want high-performance to back up the slick look, a high-performance "R" model hasn't been available until now. Beyond the big engine, the XJR boasts suspension tuning for improved handling and an electronically-controlled differential to help the power reach the ground. And it includes subtle styling updates that telegraph its high-dollar, high-performance status to those who are in the know. Basically, the 2014 Jaguar XJR is the ultimate XJ.

Other cars to consider:

Porsche Panamera: if you're looking for a sporty luxury car, you have to start here. But to get the same power as an XJR, you'd have to spring for the $176,000 Turbo S.

Mercedes S63 AMG: boasting 536 horsepower, the S63 AMG also combines full-size luxury car amenities with top-line performance. And with a new model on the way, shoppers can probably negotiate a better deal than the S63 AMG's $141,000 base price might suggest.

Audi S8: among the XJR's closest competitors, the S8 starts at $111,000 and uses a 4.0-liter turbo V8 that's good for 520 horsepower. Unlike the XJR, the S8 comes standard with all-wheel drive, making it a viable option for drivers in the north.

Used Porsche Panamera Turbo: while an XJR budget will only buy a new Panamera S, shoppers willing to consider a certified pre-owned car can easily find a Panamera Turbo in the XJR's price range. While the Panamera Turbo "only" has 500 horsepower, it makes up the difference with Porsche's amazingly quick PDK transmission.

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author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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