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Jaguar XFR Review: On the Road

Mon, 27 Jul 2009

The Jaguar XFR has quite astonishing - and controllable - performance

You start to wonder if Jaguar has screwed up and put the normally aspirated version of the potent V8 in the XFR. This can’t be an M5 competitor – it’s just too civilised. The ride is cosseting and compliant, but with an underlying – and reassuring – firmness. But the XFR isn’t twitchy and unresponsive at High Street speeds. It feels remarkably refined, and manages a very good impression of a sorted and compliant XJ.

But when you find the space – and the roads – to open the throttle up, the XFR transforms in to as capable a sports saloon as I’ve ever driven. Even if you leave the DSC alone and simply use your right foot – without bothering with the sports setting on the gearbox or the F1 style paddles behind the wheel – the XFR’s ability will astound you. Sure-footed doesn’t even come close to describing its handling. The mechanical – but electronically controlled – diff, coupled with a whole array of Jaguar gizmos, flatters even the clumsiest driver.

0-60mph comes up in just 4.7 seconds. The wave of power will take you on to speeds close to 200mph (although the XFR is supposedly limited to 155mph). I found myself – with total insouciance – doing speeds you wouldn’t think possible on country roads. And cornering at speeds that seemed to defy physics. And all with the techno-nanny systems switched on.

But if you switch off the DSC – or even just engage the Dynamic mode – the XFR comes alive, but is totally controllable. Drifting and power slides (not advocated on public roads!) are a joy, but the XFR still feels under control. The stunning new Adaptive Dynamics (which replaces the old CATS system) responds to your input with practically linear alterations to the damping. The suspension always seems perfectly set up.

But the biggest factor in the XFR’s performance is its mid-range power. Its 50-70mph time is a frankly astonishing 1.9 seconds. There is no overtaking gap too small. The wave of torque simply propels you from behind to in front in the blink of an eye. A disconcerting sight for oncoming road users, I have no doubt, but never for an instant is there a chance you won’t make the overtake with ample room to spare.

And the power is hugely addictive. You find yourself looking for an excuse to drive the back roads instead of the A Roads. Coming back from Silverstone on Saturday we took every winding road we could find, just for the joy of the drive. But the XFR does the motorway cruise with an aplomb that defies its raison d’etre. Quiet and civilised. And when we were stuck in a jam for more than an hour on the M25 on the way up to Silverstone we popped it in park and watched TV!

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By Cars UK