2012 Jaguar XF Series

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First Drive Review: 2010 Jaguar XFR & XKR

This 2010 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2015.
By Thos L. Bryant of Road & Track

Seville, Spain — We can report that Jaguar is alive and well as part of the Tata automobile company of India. With dealerships in more than 60 countries, Jaguar had sales increase by 8 percent over 2007 levels, thanks to remarkable demand in Russia, the Middle East and China. The introduction of the XF sedan just over a year ago certainly contributed to the uptick, and this year the XF moves into the performance arena with an R version.

So here we were in southern Spain to try out the model-year 2010 XFR and XKR models, now outfitted with Jaguar's third-generation AJ-V8. This new 5.0-liter V-8 is produced in both supercharged and normally aspirated versions and boasts fuel efficiency and emissions comparable to those of the previous 4.2-liter V-8, while providing substantial power increases. The standard version produces 385 bhp at 6500 rpm, while the supercharged V-8s in the R models offer a plentiful 510 bhp at 6000-6500 rpm.

Wonderfully smooth and winding country roads, plus a half-day at the new racing facility Circuito Monteblanco, provided ample opportunity to experience both new Jaguars. The XFR is touted by the company to have the soul of a sports car, the luxury of a 4-door sedan and the visual excitement of a coupe. And certainly with 510 bhp, it offers plenty of performance. The R version has unique interior and exterior styling treatments, including revised bumpers, front air intakes that are lower, hood louvers with mesh grilles, four tailpipes, a subtle rear deck spoiler and 20-in. alloy wheels.

Inside, the front seats offer 16- and 12-way adjustability, R markings on details and a broad choice of finishes and trim colors.

On the road, the XFR provides exciting performance, strong acceleration (0-60 mph is reported to be 4.7 seconds), controlled and predictable handling, quicker-ratio steering and very good ride characteristics. The R is the first XF to be fitted with Jaguar's Active Differential Control (ADC) and Adaptive Dynamics (computer-controlled variable damping). The 6-speed automatic transmission receives additional clutch plates and a stronger torque converter to handle the power of the supercharged V-8.

The ADC is designed to enhance traction laterally and provides better grip in low-traction conditions as well as helping cornering ability. Out on the road, it was generally transparent, but at the track where some wet and dry cornering demonstrations were set up, the ADC did its job well in managing traction and stability to keep the Jaguar pointed in the right direction. Some drivers with racing experience and exceptional car control might find it a bit intrusive, however.

There is an awful lot to like about the Jaguar XFR, from its modern styling to its high-performance powertrain and chassis, plus the lovely interior fitments. Jaguar North America announced that the price for the XFR would be $80,000, a substantial hike above the mid-$50,000 price for the XF, which also has the new 5.0-liter V-8 but without the supercharger.

The second day of driving in the Andalucía region near Seville put us into the XKR models (coupe and convertible), the Grand Touring cars of today's Jaguar lineup. Comfortable, handsome, sophisticated, dashing — sounds like a description of Cary Grant, doesn't it? — the XKR took to country roads with enthusiasm. Fitted with the same drivetrain as the XFR, the convertible version I drove was a delight to the senses, with ample acceleration, brisk cornering ability and sumptuous accommodations.

As with the XFR, the XKR is also equipped for the first time with Jaguar's electronic differential, and it now has the round gear-selector knob in the console, like the XF. The 6-speed automatic transmission performs admirably when left in Drive, but enthusiasts can also take advantage of paddle-shifting capability to thoroughly enjoy the performance of the 510-bhp V-8. As with the XFR, the XKR model has four tailpipes and a small "R" insignia on the rear to identify its special standing, plus slightly different grille and vent treatments to the front end.

As you might expect in cars probing the $100,000 price point ($96,000 for the coupe, $102,000 for the convertible), Jaguar XKRs are filled with luxury touches (heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel, 525-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system, etc.) and driver aids such as front and rear Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Adaptive Restraint Technology System. But don't let this list of driver aids fool you, the XKR is every bit a GT car with high levels of performance, handling and excitement.

Content provided byRoad & Track.
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BB04 - 9/15/2014 8:08:35 PM