Jaguar has been busy lately. Under the auspices of Indian industrial titan Tata, the company seems to be finally turning out the sorts of cars it has been sorely lacking for the last few decades. That is to say, exciting ones.
The XFR is the latest offering. And it's damn impressive. This R-branded XF takes Jaguar performance to an entirely new level. In the past, the company was content to take an R-badged car and strap a supercharger onto the standard production V8. This new R, though, takes past performance considerations and punts them through the uprights. Displacement is pushed from 4.2 to an even 5.0 liters. Then the supercharger gets bolted on, and output rises to 510 metric horses, or about 503 American horsepower to you and me.
The real story here, though, is torque, 461 lb-ft which peaks at a lowly 2500 rpm and runs flat all the way to 5500, giving you a pretty broad 3000-rpm rev range in which to smoke tires and uproot asphalt.
Simply put, the thing is just a monster. Stomping on the gas time and again from a standing start, rear tires scrambling for traction, it might remind you not of a blown V8 so much as a Mercedes V12. When it does finally hook up, acceleration is visceral, squeezing your guts harder with every centimeter of throttle travel until you can't help but dissolve into hysterics-or pee your pants. Brake for the next light, dangle your foot over the accelerator, and wait for it all to happen again. It's total, pure entertainment.
The new XFR is bold, brash, and seems to make no bones about putting the E63 AMGs and M5s of the world directly in its sights. But is it up to that level? My right foot said yes-but the seat of my pants can't be so quick to judge.
The car still feels big in a way an M5 does not; it still feels like a big Jaguar cruising vessel (albeit hellish fast). On a tight canyon road, the car's heaviness and massive torque delivery are liable to make it a bit of a handful. Not that it isn't exciting in that respect, too.
At the very least, the XFR is a performance deal in this segment, with lots of standard goodies, including a spectacularly elegant interior, bundled in for a (comparatively) affordable price tag.-Karl Funke
2010 Jaguar XFR
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
5.0-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve, supercharged
Peak Power: 503 hp @ 6000 rpm
Peak Torque: 461 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
0-60 mph: 4.7 sec.
Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)
Fuel Economy: 15 city/ 21 hwy
Price as tested: $80,000
From The Hip
Massive torque delivery, typically elegant cabin
Inherent mass always remains fairly evident
Having once again gotten into it, I'm reassured that the E60 M5 makes my short list of all-time favorites. But the M5 is something of a two-edged sword.
On the one edge you've got these amazing performance capabilities rolled into a five-passenger sedan, not least of which is a 500-hp V10 that revs to stratospheric engine speeds. On the other edge, you've got the way the bulk of its power and torque are delivered-at stratospheric engine speeds.
The M5 is tailored for the autobahn. In a straight line, it's one of the more frustrating cars to drive here in America, because by the time the V10 gets over its relative torque deficit at low rpm and really starts to sing, you're quickly approaching or already well into triple digits.
In this, the M5 represents the opposite approach to power delivery compared to the Jag XFR, which is more dragstrip racer in the sense of old big-displacement Detroit iron
Then again, the M5 is a much thirstier beast. The EPA reckons it'll average about 13 mpg combined, one reason you get slapped right up front with a $3,000 gaz guzzler tax.