Violently reverberating throughout its four walls, Jensen International Automotive’s (JIA) Oxfordshire premises seeming rocked to its’ very foundations as the Interceptor R Supercharged fired up to life with an apocalyptic thunder-clapping boom. As acoustically dramatic as it is to look at, the impeccably resurrected Interceptor R Supercharged settled into an intensely resonant but leisurely bass-heavy burble.
A thoroughly updated classic luxury grand tourer with contemporary electrics and reliable drivel-line, Interceptor R is in essence a rose-tinted and glamorously moody 1960s icon lovingly revived and re-mastered for a modern audience. No fragile relic, it features a painlessly serviceable and robust General Motors engine and gearbox well-ready for the travails of daily use.
A glamorous and moody yet unpretentious luxury grand tourer during its’ 1966-76 milieu, the Interceptor was revived by Jensen International Automotive in 2010 as the. Backed by Sir Charles Dunstone of Carphone Warehouse and established by Jensen-enthusiast businessmen and engineers, JIA’s 26-30 week Interceptor R revival regimen begins with a thorough strip-down and refurbishment of original 1969-76 donor cars.
With new driveline and electrics transplanted and chassis and cabin refurbished, reengineered and modernized, the Interceptor R transformation is more than an exercise in nostalgia. Faithfully to the original’s character and style, but with improved reliability, performance, comfort and dynamics, the Interceptor’s exterior is little altered, with its’ slinky low waistline, big glasshouse and distinctive wraparound rear glass hatch a model of uncomplicated style.
Seductive styled by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan, the timelessly stylish Interceptor is sophisticated and understated yet visceral bold and luxurious, with an indulgently long bonnet and predatory, recessed fascia and quad headlights. The Interceptor R’s subtly more assertive treatment features wire mesh grille and side vents, re-chromed bumpers, wider exhaust tips, deeper air dam, halogen headlights and as of 2015, tastefully incorporated and bigger modern electric mirrors.
Replacing the Interceptor’s original 6.3- and 7.4-litre Chrysler V8 engines, the Interceptor R instead receives more contemporary but conceptually similar American firepower courtesy of General Motors’ modern LS3 6.2-litre V8. Considerably more potent and efficient than original engines, the Interceptor R’s standard 429BHP naturally-aspirated engine is more than adequately muscular, but is nothing short of brutal in 556BHP Supercharged guise, as tested.
Similar in character and compact OHV design needed to fit under a low bonnet, the Interceptor R’s aluminium – rather than cast-iron – V8 sits further back for improved weight distribution. Robust, reliable and brutally effective, it drives the rear wheels through a smoothly responsive new 6-speed automatic gearbox. Exclusive to the Supercharged version, a limited-slip differential and electronic traction control harness and regulate its vast output.
Brutally powerful with suitably bellowing and bassy accoustics, the Interceptor R Supercharged produces a mighty 556BHP at 6,100rpm and 551lb/ft torque at 3,800rpm. Lunging with mechanically-driven supercharged immediacy off-the-line, it delivers supercar-swift performance, dispatching 0-100km/h in just 3.8-seconds and capable of 280km/h. Muscular and abundant throughout its rev range the 1,600kg Interceptor R Supercharger is effortlessly flexible in its torque-rich mid-range and explosively indefatigably forceful at top-end.
Expertly re-engineered for more contemporary capabilities, the Interceptor R’s most important update is its employment of independent lower wishbone twin damper rear suspension, rather than the original live rear axle set-up. With independent wheel travel on each side, ride refinement and handling are significantly improved. With revised springs and bushes and tightened-up and weightier steering, the Interceptor R is more connected, responsive and refined.
With robust and rigid hybrid of monococque and twin beam construction, the Interceptor R is well able to cope with the enhanced performance and dynamic abilities without additional stiffening. Stable at speed, fluent over imperfect UK B-roads and buttoned down on rebound, the Interceptor R supercharged is tidy and transparent. Balanced and grippy, with good body control through corners, handling is predictable and progressive.
Meatier steering provides improved road feel, directness and tidy turn-in, but tall original ratio requires more lock than modern cars. Bespoke replica 17-inch – rather than 15-inch – alloy wheels accommodate highly effective but original modern AP Racing brakes, but vintage servo assistance requires firmer pedal input. Riding on 245/45R17 front and grippier 255/45R17 rear tyres for the Supercharged version, road-holding, braking, stability and handling are much improved, without sacrificing comfort.
Luxurious and exotic, the Interceptor R’s re-trimmed classy cabin evokes a sense of occasion and features new leather-lined carpets, slim period-style steering wheel, refurbished double-stitch leather upholstered seats and technologically contemporary classic period style stereo, air conditioning and optional satnav. Built to preference, the Supercharged version driven features a new standard-fit driver-focused JIA-designed dashboard for 2015, with pod-like instruments, user-friendly layouts
With clear chrome-ringed instrumentation, metal-gated buttons and vertical layout, the new dash replaces the naturally-aspirated Interceptor R’ refurbished original horizontal unit. With big glasshouse providing good visibility one can easily places the Interceptor R on road, while refurbished seals and a new bonded windscreen provide enhanced refinement and reduced wind noise. Extensive personalization possibilities include bespoke choices of solid, metallic or pearlescent paint
Painstakingly crafted with 4-6 units completed annually the Interceptor R is offered in right-hand-drive, as driven in the UK, or left-hand-drive – like JIA’ first Middle East export earlier this year. Also available is a convertible Interceptor R. Two further models are anticipated, including the Jensen GT announced early 2015. Yet unspecified, a four-wheel-drive model with particular Middle East appeal – not necessarily a resurrected Jensen FF – is also believed to be in development.
Specifications: Jensen Interceptor Automotive Jensen Interceptor R Supercharged
- Engine: 6.2-litre, supercharged V8-cylinders
- Bore & stroke: 103.25mm / 92mm
- Compression ratio; 9:1
- Valve-train: 16-valve, OHV, fuel injection
- Gearbox: 6-speed automatic, RWD, 2.89:1 limited-slip differential
- Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 556 (564)  @6,100rpm
- Specific power; 90.2BHP/litre
- Torque lb/ft (Nm): 551 (747) @3,800rpm
- Specific torque: 121.2Nm/litre
- 0-100km/h: 3.8-seconds
- Top speed: 280km/h
- Length: 4,700mm
- Width: 1,700mm
- Height: 1,250mm
- Wheelbase: 2,670mm
- Weight: 1,600kg
- Suspension, F/R: Double / lower wishbones, adjustable dampers
- Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs, 330mm / discs, 280mm
- Brake calipers, F/R: 6-/1-piston
- Tyres, F/R: 245/45R17 / 255/45R17