JAGUAR XFR  - Page - 1
Can you imagine a bipedal big feline? We know it’s a bit complicated, but this is how Jaguar started out in life... as a motorcycle company. The first steps were made in the early twenties. and it took the company more than a decade to find its name. The strong genes we see in Jaguar’s current DNA date back from the post WWII era, when the company really started running.

After the war, the Brits’ first step in the medium saloon class was the Mark I, which also brought the unibody construction to a Jaguar-badged car for the first time. This was followed by the Mark II, which built on its assets, adding extra values in many areas. The catmaker subsequently introduced the original S-Type, a more sophisticated Mark II, with the two vehicles being sold alongside each other.

In 1969, Jaguar decided to hit the pause button for this class, subsequently only relying on its large saloons to cater for its space-needing customer’s transportation needs. The pause button was pressed for 30 years, with the return of the big cat to this segment being delayed until 1999, when the S-Type, which was inspired from the Mark I and Mark II’s styling cues, came to the market.

By the time Jaguar had been taken over by Tata Motors (there you go, we introduced Tata), the company wanted to show a new identity to the world and the luxury medium segment was the weapon of choice for this. Thus, the Jaguar XF was born. Actually, the vehicle was previewed by the C-XF concept in 2007, one year before its debut.

We were curious to see where so many years of evolution have brought Jag’s middle fighter, so we decided to invite the XF to our “test drive” section. We couldn’t resist the temptation of choosing the XFR incarnation of the vehicle, with the selection also being a sign of respect to the supercharged engine species, which is on its way to becoming an endangered one nowadays.

So, climb inside the medium feline and fasten your seatbelts - let's see just how special this ride is.

Before we start, we have to mention that Jaguar has a sweet spot for the XFR, as it used the car to achieve its personal speed record. Back in 2009, an XFR protoype, which had received certain tweaks, but was not that far off from the road-going model, managed to clock 225.675mph (363.188 km/h) at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah - can you belive the production XFR respects the German 155 mph top speed Gentlemens' Agreement? Anyway, we must set off now...

Understatement. This is the perfect word to describe the XFR's appearance. Jaguar has made efforts to visually differentiate the supercharged beast from the rest of the range, with the company choosing to introduce subtle changes. It’s like the XF has taken up Tae Bo.

So, we get the same dynamic profile, which blends the lines of a coupe with those of a saloon, without actually entering the four-door coupe segment of the market. It’s almost as if the body had a more conventional shape, which was then styled by the wind. Great, but what’s new?

Well, the modifications start with the front fascia, which has been redesigned in order to allow the 5-liter supercharged powerplant to breathe better. The bumper now has a more generously-sized lower grille, larger air intakes, which come with chromed edges. This is a feature that, together with the chromed mesh grille, created a strong contrast with the Ultimate Black color of our test car cat.

The bonnet now has a set of air vents that proudly tell the world that they’re working to cool a supercharged engine, while the side skirts are a bit beefier.

It’s now time to tell you about the part of the car that you are most likely to see on the road - it’s rear end. The lower area of the rear bumper now includes an aerodynamic element that incorporates four exhaust pipes which use a rather bold design. The final touch was added by a boot lid lip spoiler. It’s actually pretty nice when you close the lid and touch the aerodynamic element - it makes you think about all the crazy things you can do with this car.

The connection with the road is established via a set of 20-inch alloy rims that use a design which subtly introduces the wind turbine theme and come with the “Jaguar Supercharged” inscription.

The looks are also backed by a modern construction, as Jaguar has used aluminum here and there to keep the scales happy. However, the XFR still weighs about 1.9 tons (4,200 lbs). But we’ll talk about the way in which the kilograms are carried around in the “Open Road” chapter.

Climbing inside the XFR after you’ve meet the regular XF is like meeting your partner’s twin, who has better fashion tricks up the sleeve. Most of the elements are the same, with Jaguar adding a few extra touches that bring out the athlete inside the car... and you.

Usually, when one hears about pop-ups he is annoyed, as the first thing that comes to mind is an undesired Internet commercial. However, in the XF (range)’s case, this has a positive meaning, as it refers to the air vents that show their face when you start the engine. The same principle is used by the automatic gearbox’s selector, a knob that is erected from the center console when fuel starts burning. This is an original solution, but not the most ergonomic one.

So, what are the fresh bits? We’ll start with the seats, which welcome you aboard and abroad. From the first moment you enter the car, it’s pretty easy to use the electric control in order to find a comfortable driving position. As for the second part, things are simple: once you set off, you’ll be taken outside the borders of normal cars - you’ll notice that the new design manages to offer enough lateral support for various activities that involve extreme lateral G forces, from high-speed cornering to drifting.

The only thing we didn’t like in terms of a dynamic driving position was the fact that the foot rest doesn’t quite serve the purpose of allowing you to push yourself back in the seat in order to feel exactly what the car’s intentions are when you’re driving at the limit. In addition to that, the design of the pedals is functional but doesn’t bring a “go-fast” mood from the visual point of view.

But we have to remember that, even though it offers supercar-rivaling performance, this Jag is actually packed with Grand Tourer assets. The cabin offers you the felling that you can spend an incredibly long amount of time inside of it, relying on elements such as the fine leather and the Alcantara headliner to do that. However, the space in the back isn’t quite what you’d expect for this segment. It’s enough to please your body, but it would have to be larger in order to also cater for your mind’s needs.

Moving one step towards the tailpipes we find a generous boot that is ready to receive 500 liters of your stuff (in our case a practical joke led to the switch from “stuff” to “staff”, but our photographer doesn’t want us to talk about this) and comes with a decent opening.

Other changes include a thicker steering wheel, “R” badging on the seats and, in our test car’s case, a metallic trimming that covered a considerable amount of the dashboard.

In today’s crowded urban environments, the segment that the XK belongs to is one of those that are on the border of being too large for city traffic. Adding a supercharged 5 liter engine doesn’t help too much with the urban work. Strictly from the practical point of view, the XFR doesn’t make sense when driven on urban roads. But somehow, the engineers have worked their magic, making you feel extremely good while driving this car on urban roads. Actually, it’s a mix between magic and illusionism, so let’s see how this was achieved.

It all starts from the road. Actually from a tech bit that’s close to the road - the suspension. Jaguar has made a compromise between a setup that can keep all 510 hp together, with the electronic nannies on or off, and one that can act as bed+cushion+blanket for your body.

Of course, riding on 20-inch wheels does limit the car’s waftability, but in most cases, you’ be perfectly protected from the little impacts that take place below the car.

Then, there’s the interior fit and finish, which plays in a top league. Starting from the large areas, such as the leather upholstery and the Alcantara headliner and down to the details, like the azure illumination aroma of the cabin and the air vent knobs, that come with the Jaguar inscription. The fuel consumption? Around 10 mpg (22 liters per 100 km). It’s a frightening value, but if you consider the power and the mass of the vehicle, things suddenly look different.

All you need to do to get moving in the city is to caress the throttle - the supercharger offers great response and loads of low-end torque. Just leave the automatic gearbox in “Drive” and you’ll travel effortlessly. However, if you’re in a hurry and need to exploit a gap in traffic, one or two seconds of putting the pedal to the plush carpet will get you anywhere you want.

The rear view camera, together with the front and rear parking sensors allow you to handle the parking maneuvers without stress, while the subtle design of the car will keep you from being assaulted by curious passers-by.

You have to exit the city’s borders in order for the R-badged feline to stretch its legs and push the buttons in your head. Here’s where the true dual character of the XFR really shows. On one hand, you can use the first third of the accelerator pedal’s travel to cruise and overtake in a perfect Grand Tourer manner. On the other hand foot, you can select the “Sport” mode of the automatic gearbox and press the “checkered flag” little button on the center console that activates the Dynamic Mode in order to set the beast inside the car free.

We’ll start with its soft side. Even though it’s got “R”s inside and out, this car manages to relax you over long distances, with the suspension and the interior assets working hard to make sure this happens. Be gentle with the throttle (you don’t need to threat it otherwise for normal, legal driving) and the engine will act like the one in a Grand Tourer. And if it’s thrills you’re looking for, all you need to do is to push a few buttons and change your driving style.

Press the aforementioned racing button and the cat becomes hungry for hardcore sensations - the throttle, stability and transmission’s reflexes become sharper. You’ll hit the first hundred in around 4.8 seconds, but actually, the real fun starts after this value, as the vawe of torque, which is availble on a wide rev range seems to be determiend to push the car towards the horizon.

The XFR has an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h), but its the speedo will go all the way to its scale’s end, which sits at 164.5 mph (265 km/h). However, we felt that, if the feline would’ve been unleashed, it could have easily left the 186 mph (300 km/h) mark behind.

What gave us that feeling? Well, another sweet feeling (it’s all a rush of emotions with this Jag): the way in which the speedometer’s needle travels between the aforementioned benchmark values. Speed is no object for overtaking in this car.

And it’s not to shy about speeding through the corners either. Even though you’ve got adaptive dampers, you’ll still feel a certain amount of body roll through the bends, as a partial trade-off for all the comfort you get. The car rides with medical precision: it’s not quite a doctor but you be mistaking way more if you called it an assistant. The corner happiness also comes from the steering, which has the right weight and offers enough feedback.

It’s now time to return to a straight line. The aforementioned acceleration is matched by the stopping power. You don’t get fancy ceramic brakes, but you do receive 380 mm front discs that manage to offer proper deceleration and an impressive level of fade resistance. Even after numerous laps of the track, the pedal still felt right. Oh, yes, we forgot to mention, we did allow the cat to demonstrate its abilities on a circuit, especially since it instantly became friends with the guys at Amckart racetrack, a place where you can have a ton of fun... ahem... make scientific measurements.

The Dynamic Stability Control offers three modes: On (it’s almost impossible to be lateral-wild with this setup), Track (the back can step out, but only a little bit) and Off (press the button for a - are you ready? - 15 seconds and you’re free to play).

Here, on the track, we discovered that the XFR has not two, but three personalities. So, we have the Grand Tourer one that could allow you to take trips around the world and the go-fast one that makes this ride eligible for supercar play, even though you won’t be able to enter the stratosphere of the extreme planet. The latter is also suitable for the track, where we were surprised by the handling. Yes, the body roll does bother you at first, but everything is so linear, so predictable, that you’d enjoy every second of a trackday experience in this big saloon that you use for daily luxury drives.

As for the third personality, this relies on the aforementioned predictability, for which you have to thank the smart electronic differential most of all. OK, we’ll get to the point: you can use the XFR as a drift machine. It’s easy to get the cat’s tail out, it’s easy to keep it there and you can even reach impressive angles without having to sweat too much.

You can use the XFR for covering long distances, it will accommodate four passengers, offering assets that are pretty close to those of large luxury saloons, as well as for blitzing on B-roads and the Autobahn. You can even take it to the track -wet or dry, you’ll enjoy it. This is one little large deceiver, as it never actually gives you the sensation that you’re traveling that fast.
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autoevolution Jun 2011
In the city
Open road
Tech facts
72user rating 15 votes
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