Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jaguar XFR is not a classic, but still a thrill

Sacramento, California – Some would argue that Jaguar lost its image, and its way, somewhere over the past 40 years.

But after a week in the $80,000 2010 Jaguar XFR luxury sport sedan, it’s hard to long for the good old days.

Sure, the XFR does not have a long hood on which to land a helicopter or that instant recognition from fellow motorists. But what it does have is classic Jaguar: serious pop and luxurious amenities. In fact, in my view, the car is a relative steal at 80-grand.

It looks nice, too.

An imposing front end is composed of a sporty chrome grille and sports car sculpting. Even a slight breeze seems to fly over the aerodynamic bodywork, also featuring sporty sculpting on the sides. Twenty-inch wheels? Oh yeah, sweet!

On the fly, the supercharged 510-horsepower V8 is a blast. You make the zero-to-60-mph trip in just 4.7 seconds, but the power is dished up without neck-snapping brute force. Happily, the engine makes a satisfying growl at full song, about the only major sound that penetrates a tight interior cabin.

Steering on the XFR is surprisingly light. I one-handed a fairly severe slalom course. High-speed corners are felt in the seat of the pants, but the XFR had little body sway on these maneuvers. Uphill climbs are effortless. Braking power is formidable.

Fuel mileage is, well, bad. You get 15 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. Did I mention that we’re talking about 510 horses here?

My ride was clutchless, but you can amuse yourself via the steering wheel-mounted shifter paddles. Car-control devices are standard fare, but they did not interfere with my driving control, something you can’t say of many luxury cars being over-engineered these days.

Safety and security features are state-of-the-art, including an engine immobilizer.

The navigation screen took some time to learn, but other controls were simple and direct. Interior cabin touches were soft and comfortable, just what you expect from a Jag luxo liner.

And that’s pretty much the point: The XFR delivers in true Jaguar style. This Jag might not be what purists once sighed at on roadways worldwide, but it’s a contemporary thrill ride that does Jaguar’s current reputation a world of good.

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