The instant stunner
Last week I had multiple cases of déjà-vu with a highly anticipated test car, the Jaguar XF-R. The first two flashbacks came courtesy of the 3.0 and 2.2 turbo-diesel XF’s I had the absolute pleasure of driving and the R-version of this car had a few more surprises up its sleeve.
I am not the only person who believes that Jaguar’s XF is an absolute stunner, no matter which engine or state of facelift it comes with. The sober German trio of E-Class, 5-Series and A6 don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell when it comes to the balance, beauty, presence and character of the Jag.
I’m not implying that it’s the best of the lot but I do think it’s the prettiest and classiest. The interior could do with some rejuvenation and extra space yet it has an air of occasion and opulence to it with sumptuous materials, minimalist ergonomics and sci-fi movement upon start-up.
Sink into the supportive heated seat with its slightly off-centre driving position and witness the red start button pulsating. Pressing it unleashes a barrage of sensory delights with rotating air vents, the rising gear selector and an angry rasp from the four exhaust pipes.
What did that remind me of? Oh yes, an old big block Yank Tank which settles into a slightly nervous and rumbling idle. It’s not intrusive or embarrassing but it’s just enough to get your and most spectator’s attention. Added to that, the mean-looking headlights sparkle with LED daytime running lights.
Select Drive (Sport, Winter and Dynamic modes also available) and the mid-size Jaguar creeps forward gently and softly. Sitting on 20-inch wheels with 500-times-a-second adaptive suspension, the ride is still amazingly supple and forgiving over everything except nasty bumps and potholes.
The XF-R’s adaptive steering is nicely weighted and fast cornering occurs with minimal body lean; push into a corner too fast and the lenient stability control gently fights the front wheel wash. Put your foot down at anything less than 100km/h and I guarantee that you’ll be greeted by a rapidly flashing traction control light.
This overpowered characteristic put me in mind of a legendary super saloon from days past, the Mercedes E55 Kompressor, which was just as brutal in its power delivery and had a similarly scary soundtrack made up of thundering V8, whining supercharger and tortured tyres.
Even at slow speeds, the XF-R growls forward immediately and you get the delicious sensation that there’s way, way more where that came from. Better yet, flip the shift paddles for more obedience and to generate a down-shift barrage of pops and crackles that sounds like the exhausts are trying to spit out a hair.
Switch the life-saving electronic helpers off and the R’s vicious power allows instant tyre destruction in any direction or intensity you feel brave enough to sample. Keep the systems on, employ some common sense and the XF-R will out-gun anything except serious sports cars and supercars.
In fact, at 4.8 seconds to 100km/h, the Jaguar XF-R is the fastest car our GPS has ever had the pleasure of riding in. The reason for all this speed is the 5-litre supercharged V8 which right-hooks you with 375kw (510hp) or 625Nm, claiming averages of 292g CO2/km and 12.5L/100km.
Take that last figure with a pinch of salt; then add a few gallons more. Jaguar’s XF-R might achieve 12.5L/100km when driven by a pensioner. At 90km/h. Downhill. We started off at 20 and slowly made our way to 16 during a week’s driving, once achieving 325km from the 70L tank.
This forms part of the ugly triangle of cost these super saloons tend to bring with them: price, consumption and expenses. If you can afford an XF-R, buy one now, I beg you. If you can live with its thirst, it will be incredibly rewarding. And as for the maintenance and resale value – if you don’t like them, buy a Corolla.
The price, if you really need to know, is a Rolex above N$1 million. That includes a 3-year unlimited-km warranty and all the electric bluetooth DVD keyless auto satnav mp3 climate hard-drive voice touch-screen assist comfort and safety gizmos, options and trim/colour combinations you desire.
It may be extravagant, hungry and scary but just imagine the beautiful and beastly Jaguar XF-R standing in your garage, ready to destroy your petrol card and spit abuse at the neighbours when you come home with active Xenon lights and fine sounds from the 1,200W Bowers & Wilkins audiophile sound system. I can.
0-100m: 5.2s / 107.1km/h
0-200m: 7.9s / 140.1km/h
0-300m: 10.2s / 168.2km/h
0-400m: 12.2s / 177.2km/h
1/4mile: 12.3s @ 110.3mph (177.5km/h)
Climate Mild, sunny
Road Dry tarmac, level
Occupants Driver, no passengers
Fuel level 3/4