.So how will the Jag XF-R be distinguished from lesser XFs?
Where to begin? The XF-R has a noticeably different snout, as witnessed by the larger air intakes and bonnet scoops, but the rest of the front of the car is admirably restrained. The side profile is differentiated by stout side sills.
If you're looking at the rear of the XF-R (and let's face it, most of us will be), you'll be following a subtle lip spoiler on the bootlid, chunky quad pipes and we'd guess lurking under that white plastic disguise is a discrete diffuser. Naturally, there is also a new design of alloy wheel reserved just for R models. Even standard cars can be specced with 20-inch wheels, so big rims are a must for the XF-R.
Naturally, there is also a new design of alloy wheel reserved just for R models. Even standard cars can be specced with 20-inch wheels, so big rims are a must for the XF-R
And the driving experience?
Sadly, our ace spy photographers haven't yet managed to wrestle the keys to an R model, but they have seen one driven in full anger. Moments after these shots were taken, this white prototype shot off up the road as the test driver spotted our long lens.
From the engine spec, we know this car will be quick. Damn quick. It's difficult to judge from these spyshots, but it looks as if the R is lower and we know that Jag's chassis specialists are preparing a more focused ride and handling balance. Not that there's much wrong with the standard car.
Then they need to deliver a coherent brand message and create an image for buyersIt's Jaguars rebirth, they need to milk it for all its worth and get back into the black and out of the red.
The twin Roots-type supercharged 5.0L V8 engine generates substantially more power than its supercharged 4.2L V8 predecessor, found in various forms from the XJ Super V8 to the XK-R. With 461lb-ft (625Nm) of torque on tap, the XF-R leaps to 60mph (96km/h) in just 4.7 seconds. In-gear acceleration is equally strong, shooting the car from 50-70mph (80-112km/h) in just 1.9 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 155mph (250km/h). Despite the big forced induction V8 and impressive performance, the XF-R still manages a respectable 18.8mpg US (12.5L/100km) in the combined cycle.
Other upgrades over the already solid XF platform include active suspension and differential systems, a faster steering ratio and bigger brakes for more fade resistance. The interior gets XF-R-specific styling as well, including aluminum and mesh accents, R badges and custom sport seats.
Maximum torque of 461lb ft is dished out from 2500rpm to 5500rpm. So once you get it percolating, performance is astonishingly relentless. The 0-60mph dash is despatched in 4.7sec, but really telling is that 50-70mph is demolished in just 1.9sec, making it a demonic overtaking tool.
All that torque means that it gets into its stride at little over tickover and when it does performance is intoxicating, as is the new V8’s delicious repertoire of noises: which don’t, for the first time on a supercharged Jag, include a whine unless you’re on full throttle.
The Jaguar XFR’s substantial chassis changes are instantly noticeable. For a start there’s a additional firmness to it and far more bumps are telegraphed through to the cabin. This isn’t just noticeable at urban speeds but even at three-figure pace. However, the fact that it’s all so quiet and controlled still makes the Jag a very credible cruising tool.
Yet the loss of some suppleness is more than made up for by the way the XFR simply gobbles up challenging roads. A quicker steering rack, plus the other chassis changes make it far more agile than 'cooking' models.
It turns in brilliantly, has almost endless grip and the electronics allow you to get on the gas really early in a corner – easily making it the equal of the BMW M5 through both fast and slow corners.
The XFR's composure is first class. The new electronic damping system does a great job of keeping the body taut and flat even when you’re doing the sort of speeds on the sort of undulating roads that require the maximum amount of wheel travel.
If you want the best all-round high-performance saloon the Jaguar XFR is the answer. It’s the equal of the BMW M5 dynamically and for sheer performance; yet is far easier to live with day-to-day and far more compliant when you’re not in the mood for maximum attack.
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Overall the car is both exciting and rewarding to drive, and has a character that is very different to that offered by the motorsport inspired BMW M5, or powerful, autobahn tuned Mercedes AMG E63.
The Jaguar somehow feels a much more mature model, slightly softer, but no less capable. Thanks to its subtle styling additions, we also think it looks far better too.
If we had any criticisms, it would be that if you drive the car as fast as it will go, the seats don’t offer quite as much support as we would like. We struggled to apply the engine’s power smoothly out of corners too.
That aside, we would argue that this is the finest performance saloon money can currently buy. Beautifully styled, brilliant to drive, and as thrilling a drivers car as anything else we have tested so far this year.