Epic 15.4-inch rotors sit inside the front wheels and 13.4-inchers in the rears, mated to four piston calipers at both ends, too, so it can get the speed off just as quickly and it feels lighter on its feet than the opposition under heavy braking. That's almost certainly due to a re-jigged suspension keeping the car flat and smooth under heavy load. Arden's own patented system comes with a 30mm drop on a standard car that was firm in any case. Then there are the 21-inch three-piece rims clothed in Dunlop SP SportMaxx tires that provide acres of grip, pin-sharp handling, and ask for just a touch of muscle on turn-in. It transforms the driving experience and turns a sporting saloon into a road warrior. It's still not quite as razor sharp as that of the Bavarian competition, but then again it's close enough for some and provides a more satisfying, meaty drive. There's 4,056 pounds of padding to soak up impacts, so it doesn't crash over ruts and bumps, but this Jaguar has newfound precision to go with its aggression, and it's a devastating combination.

A wet public road was no place to test the theory, but I get the feeling with the gadgets turned off this could be a monster drift car in expert hands. It's that easy to place, that responsive, and Arden's fatter tiller was all it took to give near perfect steering feel. As for the rest of the interior, Arden can and will do anything you like. Only the threat of legal action prevented us from taking pictures of some of the more ostentatious two-tone interiors within vehicles parked on the Arden lot. On this particular XF they satisfied themselves with the steering wheel and a few choice exterior mods, including the famous Leaper placed on the nose. That proud cat standing atop the hood looks ready to spear pedestrians in a full frontal impact, but Arden has rigged things so it snaps off in a minor impact--and convinced the notoriously stringent TV to let it through.

As for the rest of the front, it is still far from convincing. The XF needed the guardsman-sharp creases that the prototype so proudly displayed before manufacturing reality kicked in, and that glossy chrome grille doesn't really help. But Arden has given the car a badly needed testosterone injection with new side skirts and a rear wing, which will do little or nothing for high-speed stability, yet looks the business and gives the car a visual edge over the rest of the competition.

The best news is that Arden can now set to work on a whole new engine, and, building on Jaguar's latest work, you wouldn't bet against a 600-hp super saloon breaking cover from Krefeld before too long. So it looks like the cat is finally ready to leap back from the automotive wilderness, bury the memory of the E-Type once and for all, and provide cars fit for a bank robber once again.

Arden AJ21

* Layout
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive

* Engine
4.5-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve.Custom crankshaft, pistons, rods, Arden twin-screw supercharger, induction, exhaust, software

* Transmission
Six-speed automatic, helical limited-slip differential, strengthened rear axle

* Suspension
Arden sport kit

* Brakes
Six-piston calipers, 15.4-inchrotors (f), four-piston calipers, 13.4-inch rotors (r)

* Wheels and Tires
Arden Speedline, 9.0x21 (f), 10x21 (r)Dunlop SP SportMaxx, 255/35 (f), 295/30 (r)

* Exterior
Arden side skirts, rear wing, hood-mounted Leaper ornament

* Interior
Arden sport steering wheel

Peak Power: 550 hpPeak Torque: 472 lb-ft0-60 mph: 4.8 sec.Top Speed: 183 mph*Arden data

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