2010 Jaguar XF R: Best Jaguar Sedan ever

by The Car Family

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Why anyone would spend over twice as much for a Bentley is beyond us. The Jaguar XFR is better in every dynamic way, expect top speed, and after 150 mph only your medical insurance carrier would care. The Jaguar XFR only falls short in two areas and that is its information center and lack of rear seat legroom. Someone at Jaguar needs to be punished for making the emergency brake control and the transmission selection knob of metal. Maybe it doesn’t get to be 100 degrees in England, but in the US you can burn yourself as we learned the hard way.

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This Jaguar is so fast that for its $80,000 list price you are actually stealing the car. The Audi RS6, BMW M5, and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG are in the same category, but none of them combine the interior arrangements and exterior elegance of the Jaguar not to mention that it is quite capable of getting over 20 mph on the highway. Of course, the traction control is a bit of a nag, but all in all this is a Jaguar that truly bounds down the road in style and in a hurry. As much as we like the Mercedes E63’s grunt and go, the Jaguar is just more handsome and sporty. Sadly, very few people even knew it was a Jaguar and fewer yet that it was the supercharged version. Apparently, Jaguar needs a more aggressive advertising campaign.

The heart of this sleek sedan is a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 creating a very useable 510 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. The six-speed automatic transmission can be controlled with steering wheel mounted shift paddles, but there is so much torque it is easier just to press the joy peddle and hang on. Getting to 60 mph takes under five seconds without trying, although there is hesitation from the transmission when you floor the accelerator. Jaguar also offers an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. To give you some idea of how fast this Jaguar is you can keep abreast of most Porsche, Corvette, or Ferrari variants even with the family on-board and groceries in the trunk. The highly regarded BMW M5 must be driven perfectly to match this easy to launch Jaguar and the BMW is a pain to drive in traffic. The Jaguar is breathtaking and worth every penny if you love to drive and can afford about 19 mpg in mixed driving. However, that number is almost impossible to achieve as you are simply not going to be able to resist the urge to unleash this cat at every opportunity. And why not with the quarter mile arriving in under 13 seconds at 112 mph, and you are driving a 4300 pound luxury car.

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The main competitor, in terms of performance, is the Cadillac CTS-V, but we doubt many people would cross shop these two despite the Cadillac’s price advantage. The Jaguar is much more the elegant of the two and has the looks that make it a classic. The Cadillac has crisper handling and a more sporty demur.

Mom’s view: What a sweetheart. In the right color, and blue is not its color, this sedan calls attention to itself in a way Amy Winehouse could only dream. It is subtle, yet striking in its proportions. The ride, thanks to the new Adaptive Dynamics suspension system, is sporty, but not abrupt. The extremely wide tires riding on 20 inch rims do create noise over roughened surfaces, but this is a car meant for those who like to drive and are willing to tolerate such intrusions for the extra grip.

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There are some subtle differences between the supercharged XFR and its more placid non-supercharged brother such as hood louvers, twin-dual tailpipes, a rear spoiler and heavy mesh chromed grille. Inside the XFR has seats that are comfortable, but not accommodating for those looking at fat loss programs. The dark oak interior trim was nice, but the aluminum bits got very hot in the sun. I found plenty of safety features with the radar-based Blind Spot Monitor being especially valuable due to the blind spots created by the large C pillars on the sedan. The back-up camera was easy to use thanks to the lines that showed where the car was heading in much the same manner as the best one that Nissan has been offering for several years. The interior is an interesting arrangement of leather, aluminum and plastic that are much more modern looking than previous Jaguar sedans. It is modern and yet classic with the shades of charcoal gray cloth and leather providing an inviting place to spend time. Only Audi offers anything close to this elegant.

Safety wise the XKR offers anti lock brakes, depowered airbags, head and side airbags, and traction and stability control. The car crash test ratings have not been posted yet, but most Ford designed vehicles do well and that company is responsible for the engineering of this Jaguar.

Dad’s view: This is not a graceful car. It reminds me of a bodybuilder in an expensive suit. Nevertheless, it is a grand ride and the engine is inspirational. I miss the supercharger whine, but this is a luxury car not a boy racer. The twin vortex supercharger sits astride the V8’s aluminum heads and block and pushes the pressure through the DOHC motivated four valves per cylinder that enable the rather small 305 cubic inch mill to produce 510 horsepower and 461 lb-ft. of torque. Two intercoolers densing the air and direct injection sweetening the deal. The engine’s redline is 6900 rpm, but what is stellar about this Jaguar is that the engine starts to produce thrust at only 2500 rpm.

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When you are driving this rig you barely need to touch the accelerator pedal to keep pace with traffic. The slightest pressure and the engine responds immediately with a not so gentle forward thrust that can have you at immodest speeds in seconds. Self-control is mandatory when piloting the XFR. The transmission can be controlled by shift paddles or by just letting the six-speed automatic do the thinking for you. I never really bothered with using the sport mode to quicken the shifts. The electronic differential does it best to keep the car straight and those large tires help as well. You can stiffen the spring rates if you like to run the canyons, but the forte of this Jaguar is the way it effortless bounds down the highway listening to the 20-inch wheels sing their song and enough buttons to keep you occupied for hours with decisions about traction control, suspension, and even the treat of playing with the Dynamic Mode that holds the Jag in gears longer. The new ZF Six-Speed transmission also has a Winter Mode that softens the initial acceleration for better traction. The Adaptive Dynamics suspension monitors each wheel independently 100 times a second and all you have to do is make the payments.

Overall, this is a nice touring car, but it isn’t a sports car. It can easily keep up with any other vehicle in its realm on the road, but it isn’t the best cornering machine. Gas mileage was very good for so much power and I was able to get 21 mpg on one highway trip. That may have been my greatest driving exploit in years, though. Too much temptation only a toe tip away.

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Young working woman’s view: Jaguar is now owned by Tata Motors of India and the first thing they have done is produced another version of the XF sedan called the Premium. This gives buyers three choices starting with the base, if you can call it that, model with a 4.2-liter V8 that produces 300 horsepower, the Premium with a larger 5.0-liter V8 with 385 horsepower, and our test vehicle, the XFR with 510 horsepower. I would estimate that you are going to get over 20 mpg with the base version and about 18 with the larger engined Jaguars. The night lighting the XFR was extraordinary. Only the big Infiniti comes anywhere near it. The interior lighting is too soft.

Getting into the sedan wearing a dress isn’t too much of a concern, but the bucket seats have fairly high bolsters, do getting out definitely requires an assist from the door arm rests. The monitor is small and it is best if you spend considerable time with this beast to learn its mannerism before partaking of its enthusiasm.

I would love to own the new Jaguar, but I would go with the non-supercharged version. The $20,000 or so additional cost of the technology showpiece isn’t really needed for around town travel and the speed camera adorned highways that mar the scenery. Very lovely, but I really don’t think having special rims that proclaim “supercharged” as well as an electronic assisted rear differential are necessary for my needs.

Young working male’s view: The speedometer font is way, way too small. And when you drive a vehicle with this much power you had better watch it as you are always challenging the posted limits. The sophisticated traction control makes wet weather traveling much easier considering the generous helping of torque the engine produces. The steering is quick and the huge vented disc brakes, nearly 15 inches in and 14.8 in back, are reassuring. The XFR never feels small or nimble, but it does feels boastful and understated at the same time. Oxymoronic perhaps, but with its sleek lines and brute force acceleration buyers might tend to overlook its areas of concern. First, the very wide, Dunlop SP Sport Maxx rubber, 255/35 in front and 285/30 in the rear are tiresome to hear groaning away on some grooved concrete roadways. Next, the rear seat does not have a lot of leg room if you are tall. Next, the

center touch display screen is just too irritating with all its menus and I just can’t comprehend why you need both a starting fob and a start button. The dial shifter takes a while to understand, but why not just a lever. The same goes for the rotating vents that move when the car is turned on and to what purpose. To me it is just something else that could go wrong. The info-entertainment system has a screen that is very small and you need to use it for such simply tasks as setting the radio stations all the way to the heat settings for the seats. The touch screen does have a useful back button, but it is still overly complicated. The Bowers and Wilkins audio system is above average with over 500 watts, but the radio reception is poor. It has a 17.7 cubic ft. of trunk space, but the opening is smallish and the lift over high.

On the plus side of the ledger is the XFR’s passing ability. It may not be the fastest sedan to 60 mph, but when it comes to passing a vehicle going that speed it sails by with plenty in reserve. The Jag weighs 4300 pounds, but feels heavier and you are going to be looking for a premium fuel station after about 320 miles.

The point here is two-fold. First, would I buy this car and secondly, is it worth 80 grand. Well, it is really too much car for me. I don’t have many opportunities to play with so much power. And, I can’t afford the insurance let alone the payments. Suffice to say that this car is not meant for my demographic group, but it might be. It certainly gets more eyes than the BMW and Audi and Cadillac and that counts for something.

Family conference: The entire family loved the XFR and clearly the breed is in good hands under its new ownership. This Jaguar is a great balance of good looks and performance while not forgetting that you should be able to take it grocery shopping with ease. The trunk opens perfectly, getting in and out isn’t a trial, and the quality makes this the best Jaguar ever and one with claws, even without it trademark Jaguar hood ornament.  As for waiting until Porsche brings out its Panamera, you probably are wasting your time. It is going to be more expensive, no doubt, but we would put my money on the XFR for full frontal power. As a negative, the “Jaguar Sense” glove box sensor isn’t worth it.

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