Plenty of reasons to get excited
- 2009 Jaguar XF-R; 5.0-litre, supercharged V8, petrol; six-speed automatic; sedan- $208,450*
With a 5.0-litre V8 supercharged engine at its core, heart palpitations will be visible through the cable-knit cardigans of the Jag-driving stereotypes of yesteryear.
Those more popular German rivals are put on notice, this hero of the XF series packs quite a punch.
The XF range offers four engine variants - a 3.0-litre V6 petrol, 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbocharged diesel S, 5.0-litre V8 petrol normally aspirated and the engine on show in the XF-R, a 5.0-litre V8 petrol supercharged engine - all of which have a six-speed automatic transmission featuring paddle-shifts for manual gear selection.
Remind me who said size doesn’t matter? The XF-R will make you blush with excitement. Capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds, the XF-R plays in a league occupied by the likes of BMW’s V10 M5 which runs 0-100km/h in just 4.4 seconds.
The power and pace of the XF-R are truly exhilarating thanks in part to 375kW at 6,000-6,500 rpm and with torque peak of 625Nm at 2500-5500 rpm. This engine is overly attentive and ready and waiting to be fully exploited. It would be rude not to do so.
While the engine note and sheer size of the XF-R makes you feel like king of the road, it’s all too easy to look more like the town fool if you’re not careful. Sudden acceleration, coupled with a change in direction makes for a messy tail end – may the traction control become your friend. On several occasions I was surprised as the rear end stepped out. A soft approach to acceleration however delivers a smooth motoring experience.
From stand still, the straight line speed of the XF-R is impressive - strong and fast - as the 0-100km statistic would suggest. This car’s 1891kg is beautifully balanced and is light work for its engine. On freeway cruising and tight cornering the vehicle remains composed and the cabin well insulated from outside noise. The fast ratio steering rack delivers what could almost be described as nimble handling – it’s surprisingly precise, considering the mass at hand; the XF-R is just under five metres long.
In ‘S’ mode, tap through the gears on the paddle shifts to experience a more involved drive experience. Gear changes are very fast to act when using the paddles.
JaguarDrive Control offers two drive modes - Dynamic and Winter. Dynamic mode is just that, adjusting throttle and suspension set up to suit increased drive demands. Winter mode literally dampens the attitude, as it softens the engine responsiveness to ensure optimum traction in wet conditions.
Suspension is incredibly rigid and well dampened to provide a continuously smooth ride. And the cabin is very well insulated – almost too well insulated in my opinion, I’d prefer to hear more of that engine note fill the cabin.
The XF-R builds a sense of excitement from the very first glance. Its muscular body sits proud upon 20 inch wheels and the large chrome-look grille up front, bonnet air intakes and four exhaust pipes set the tone for the drive experience delivered by the XF-R – it’s over the top. And the interior keeps up the theme.
Once inside the leather clad interior, your eyes are drawn to the red pulsating Stop/Start button – which cries out to be touched. Your first touch engages the electronics, and with your foot on the brake, another touch ignites the engine - and then you smile.
With the engine humming, a cast alloy instrument rises from the centre console – it’s your drive selector and you quickly become familiar with its twist dial operation.
The dash and console are a mix of dark mesh with dark oak veneer – it’s a little bit James Bond meets Miss Daisy, but it works, and a seriously sporty edge is maintained throughout. Buttons and dials aplenty, the XF-R is gadgetry heaven. The interior lights and glove box release are touch sensitive and the Bluetooth simple to activate and air vents automatically rotate to be concealed beneath the dash when not in use.
The sports seats fitted in the XF-R are some of the best I’ve ever experienced – in terms of both comfort and adjustability. All your usual adjustments, plus adjustable side bolsters makes the seat memory is invaluable.
The Bowers & Wilkins 440W sound system pumps out a beautiful sound. In the centre console you can discretely plug in your favourite audio device, iPod, USB or auxiliary.
If you’re impressed by small details, you will love the ‘Jaguar Suedecloth Premium Headlining’ – it’s super soft to touch and adds to the cabin opulence.
Second row passengers are comfortable and privy to the overall luxury on show up front, although a sloping roofline encroaches on headroom.
The parking camera and audible warnings assist when parking this brut, but the blind spots remain a trap. Large pillars create significant obstructions to driver vision.
While the boot space is large, at 540 litres, and the hinges are nicely dampened, the boot opening is a little small and makes it awkward to load large items.
If you can afford the XF-R, you’re probably less likely to be worried about fuel prices. And if you buy the XF-R, you’re also unlikely to be too worried about your carbon footprint, at least when it comes to your car - I’m sure you recycle.
On an urban drive route of 260km, the onboard computer suggested that average fuel consumption ranged from 21 to 23L/100km travelled, which is in line with my own calculations which revealed an average consumption of 22.0L/100km travelled. The manufacturer claims consumption of 18.7L/100km for urban driving and 12.5 for a combined cycle. Even at that rate, with a 69.5-litre tank capacity, you’re going to be quite the regular at the bowser.
CO2 emissions are at odds with the thirst of the XF-R, releasing just 292g/km.
On paper, the XF-R spec seems a good fit for its price tag. In the flesh, there are a few small details that taint an otherwise glowing report. The controls and buttons on the centre console are plastic to touch and the screen display – albeit very easy to operate - is of poor resolution. The key fob is also plastic and unimpressive. Minor points really, but worth noting on any vehicle that costs as much as a studio apartment.
Six airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, parking sensors and a reversing camera complete a reasonable safety package. The absence of rear-side airbags is disappointing.
While the Jaguar XF-R is up against some tough competition, in the form of the Audi S6, BMW M5 and Mercedes E63, this package offers a design, level of performance and quirky charm that is quite different to that of its rivals. With a price tag of $208,450 plus on-road and dealer costs, it’s also considerably cheaper than both the M5 and E63 - and just a touch more expensive than the S6.
Would I buy this shameless, thirsty and expensive beast? Yes, in a heartbeat. I’m drawn to this car.
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