|Where style is concerned, the XFR is a brand-new expression of the Jaguar design language.|
And like me, it’s not without its faults, being a touch portly and thus neither perfectly graceful nor nimble. But despite that, this cat and I have a lot in common. So much so, in fact, that after one week, I found myself regretfully letting it go, a few fuel dollars lighter.
Where style is concerned, the XFR, the athletic twin of the XF launched a few months ago, is a brand-new expression of the Jaguar design language. Less aerodynamic than the XF and virtually as refined as the great XJ, it’s the first Jaguar to demonstrate the automaker’s new aesthetic direction.
It’s impossible, for instance, to overlook the uniquely stylish mesh grille. Equally unforgettable are the extreme shapeliness of the hind end and the bulging fenders that give it a more impressive stance on the road.
The easily recognizable taillights have been maintained, however, while a more discrete version of the Jaguar logo has been inlaid into the grille. I know, I know, the sculpted feline adorning the hood is no longer de rigueur, dropped for reasons of safety and theft, but it would have looked great on the aggressive hood of this XFR, gracefully pouncing halfway between two air intakes tasked with cooling the supercharged engine.
Ooh la la!
Who said the Brits are all pompous chaps who can’t be bothered? The XFR may have a touch of pomp, courtesy of its moniker, but it’s anything but idle. The supercharged, 5-litre V8 dozing beneath the hood is quickly roused. Insist a little on the throttle, and this colossus (after all, the XFR hauls around a good 2,345 kg) surges forward like an enraged beast.
|The snappy acceleration that wakens the 510-horse stable is accompanied by a veritable symphony of unleashed pistons.|
The result is stunning and by no means insignificant: 100 km/h in under 5 seconds, 80 to 120 K in some 3.5 seconds.
|The cabin is decked out in worthy materials, flawless woodwork and gorgeously supple leather.|
The snappy acceleration that wakens the 510-horse stable is accompanied by a veritable symphony of unleashed pistons that will give goose bumps to any driving enthusiast in the vicinity.
The only drawback is the steering. Because of the Jag’s size (nearly 5 metres long) and weight, it sometimes has trouble mastering more aggressive corners or sudden bends in the roads.
Even at very low speeds, in a parking lot for instance, you have to factor in a slightly wider-than-average turning radius. But that’s a very small price to pay.
Life inside a Jaguar is like staying in a five-star mansion as opposed to a modest country inn. The cabin is decked out in worthy materials, flawless woodwork and gorgeously supple leather.
On the flip side, the huge centre console and the rather eclectic presence of numerous controls complicates the experience somewhat.
The shifter, for example, is replaced by a rotating knob that disappears into the console once you kill the engine.
As for the all-electronic display, it allows you to take stock of the vehicle’s situation at the touch of a few buttons and is complemented by a navigation system set in the middle of the dash. The latter didn’t seem too taken with Montreal’s south shore, getting lost a couple of times in the maze of country lanes, but overall not posing any real problem.
Comfort and ride
Despite its potency and distinctive purring, the Jaguar XFR remains first and foremost a high-luxury car. It wraps the driver in a reassuringly downy hug. But the R version’s Mister Hyde is not without its Doctor Jekyll. Press the Dynamic Stability Control button and turn the transmission knob to S mode, and you’re dealing with a whole other personality.
|The shifter is replaced by a rotating knob that disappears into the console once you kill the engine.|
Mechanically, these settings modify the available torque and power range, improving the precision and sportiness of the transmission. Gear changes are accomplished with surgical precision with the steering wheel paddles.
As for the dynamic mode, it totally recalibrates the suspension’s response, increasing the ride’s directness and making the trajectory easier to maintain while adapting the inevitable side rolls as needed.
|Life inside a Jaguar is like staying in a five-star mansion as opposed to a modest country inn.|
And to top it all off, the XFR’s list of equipment is complemented by a large-disc braking system that unfalteringly slows down the beast. Even on the track, the XFR never loses its composure when faced with dramatic variations in speed.
In fact, the true downsides of this car are not performance-related. It is true that its considerable weight can represent a handicap and that where rear visibility is concerned, some bodily contortions are sometimes required to get a decent view. But the price, in excess of $85,000, its certainly quite a burden to bear in a niche where sports cars are distinctly more affordable.
But I would be more than willing to stretch my wallet wider for the comfort of a Jaguar.