Jaguar XF-R Review & Road Test

$102,900 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
    10.5L
  • Engine Power
    175kW
  • CO2 Emissions
    249g
  • ANCAP Rating
    N/A

If looks could kill, the XF-R would be the Charles Manson of its class.

Jaguar XF-R Review

If looks could kill, the XF-R would be the Charles Manson of its class.

When pictures of the Jaguar XF first came out, some Jaguar fanatics were wondering what had happened to the brand, the Jaguar they knew had grown up, modernized and became a new brand ready to take on the 22nd century.

A good three and a bit years later and the range topping, ultra-fast XF-R with its 5.0-litre supercharged V8 has hit the sweet spot in Australia.

Not that I can complain, in today’s “fast-cars-killed-the-polar-bears” world, one must enjoy his desire for power and speed subtly. This is why all grown-up European performance cars look rather subdued. Take the BMW M5 as a case in point, ask any person on the street that knows little about cars and they’ll never pick that it has a V10 under the bonnet capable of propelling a 5-series at supercar speeds.

Of course in the XF-R’s case you simply have to step on the accelerator and anyone within a 200M radius will hear the sound of its supercharged V8 roaring along. 0-100km/h is achieved in 4.9 seconds (though it certainly feels faster than that), which is not as fast as I would have hoped for but it’s the 100-150km/h that puts a smile on my face. It seems to want to go faster the more you push it.

The reason you’d buy an XF-R or M5 or a Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG is because it combines the best in performance with luxury motoring. Whilst the Germans are robotic in their approach, the Jaguar has enormous character.

The Jaguar lacks the M5’s big brother computer that can decide what you should eat for dinner, instead it comes with a similar computer system as the one found in the new Land Rover Discovery 4. As great as that sounds, you’d never want to mention it to your friends.

As a result the XF-R had similar technological issues as the Discovery 4. Fill it up from empty with less than 20L of fuel and it will take forever to update distance to empty. By the third day when I plugged in my iPhone, it would reset the Jag’s computer system completely.

It would simply display the R logo and then reset, over and over and over again. As soon as I unplugged the iPhone, it would work fine (for those wondering, an iPhone is just an iPod touch with phone functionality). I turned the car off, left it there overnight and it still had the same issue the next day. You have to wonder what possible bug could cause a complete reset simply by plugging in an iPhone? It eventually fixed at a later time.

Despite its problems with the iPod touch and iPhone, the XF-R’s Bowers & Wilkins 440W stereo system with Dolby® ProLogic® II surround sound coupled to 14 speakers is nothing short of superb. Whether its bass or clarity you want, it has it all. I played everything form Mozart to Armin Van Buuren and the results were an audiophiles dream.

The main reason you’d buy the XF-R over its naturally aspirated V8 brother is that extra 92kW and 90Nm of torque. What that means is an engine so responsive you’ll have to alter your driving style to accommodate for its mighty power delivery.

Of course if you drive it around in basic drive mode, it doesn’t misbehave, in fact it can even be somewhat docile at times. Switch it form drive into sport mode, engage Dynamic Mode (chequered flag button) and the XF-R turns into a beast ready to eat up anything south of $200g.

Step on it and the engine comes to life, barking away as it delivers relentless acceleration. I took it for a long drive along the new section of the Centenary highway heading out of Brisbane and it begged for Autobahn style speed limits.

It can get from 0 to whatever the speed limit is far too quickly. In fact you’ll probably find yourself using the speed-limiter set at 110km/h so that you don’t end up doing 150km/h in an 80 zone without noticing.

My praise for the XF-R isn’t just for its straight line speed but the way it feels behind the wheel. A perfectly weighted and very direct steering wheel means an engaging drive through twisty roads. Sure, it may feel a little too big to be doing tight corners at speed but given it weighs nearly 1900kg you have to admire how well it manages regardless.

Eating up those long highway kilometres behind the wheel of this beast whilst listening to its 14 speaker sound system easily makes it all worthwhile. But it’s only when you’ve experienced this car at its full glory that it makes perfect sense. Switch all the go-fast bits on and all of sudden you’ve woken up the beast and it doesn’t want to argue, it just wants to go very, very quickly and trust me, so will you.

Turn the steering wheel slightly and feed the throttle and the back will step out on you just enough to make you look like a retired Forumla 1 driver having some fun. The feeling of control through the steering wheel is M5 like to say the least.

During my week with the XF-R I didn’t have the usual set of comments that I get with Jaguars of old. No one dared to ask me if this was my old man’s car! It may take a few more years for that old-men’s-car image to fade but if there is any Jaguar model that can do it, it’s the mighty XF-R. Besides, any ‘old men’ that buy this are obviously young at heart.

Sit inside and I dare you to find something to complain about. The special R 18x14-way adjustable sports seats do a great job of holding you in thanks to their electrically adjustable squab bolsters. A full soft grain leather interior comes standard (available in warm charcoal, warm charcoal/red zone, warm charcoal/London tan, and ivory) meanwhile a new dark oak veneer is the standard finish for all wood-trimmed areas.

To remind you of its R goodness, all XF-R seats including front and rear come with the 'R' logo embossed. The steering wheel also gets the R treatment with its own 'R' logo. There are plenty of other R badges around the cabin with one subtly placed on the passenger side of the instrument panel and more found on the tacho and speedo.

The satellite navigation linked up to the LCD which controls the audio and the rest of the technological features can be a tad slow at times but it does get the job done eventually (so long as you don’t want to plug an iPhone into it).

Overall the Jaguar XF-R is a worthy competitor to both the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG and BMW’s aging but soon to be replaced M5. It may be a tad slower and lack some of the technological features of the other two but it’s also considerably cheaper and comes with more character and good looks than all its German rivals put together.

For those not wanting to spend 200g+ on an XF-R, you’ll be happy to know the new 3.0-litre twin turbo XF S diesel is a great choice if sub five second acceleration times aren’t on the agenda. However I suspect those looking at the XF-R want the best of the best and that’s exactly what you’ll get with the best Jaguar ever made, the new 2010 Jaguar XF-R.

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