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Feline Fury

The R-badged XF rips it up with 500-plus horses — but maintains that gentleman swagger

By George Kuruvilla

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Published: Fri 30 Aug 2013, 2:55 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:35 PM

A sea of letters like the ‘M’, the ‘RS’, the ‘AMG’ and even the ‘F’ dominate the fancy-fast sports sedan segment. Some offer undiluted driving experiences and others are tech-laden luxo-barges, but all make style statements. With the 2013 XFR, the Indian-owned Jaguar brings 500 race-honed horses, some quintessentially English qualities to that table… and possibly some character as well.
We at wknd. magazine had the opportunity to be part of that peer, putting the new XFR through the paces for a few days.

Design & Aesthetics


The XF was launched in 2007 as a 
replacement for the beloved Jaguar S-Type. It was the brainchild of Ian Callum who has penned many a flamboyant styles over the over years — like the XJ, XK and the carved-for-cool F-Type.

In 2011, the car got a refresh to keep the momentum going. Jaguar has 
replicated the details from the original Jaguar C-XF concept car in the XF. Amongst the changes are a broader, more upright grille and a sleeker new LED-accented bi-Xenon headlamps. Even the tail lights get their share of LEDs as well.

The R-version of the car gets an unique front fascia, with larger air-intakes, a sculpted hood with twin bonnet louvres, lower side sills, but nothing too obvious. It’s like Jaguar wants to keep their super saloon an open secret.

At the rear end, unlike Mitsubishi Evos with its huge spoilers, aggression doesn’t spill all over. But the purposeful power is conveyed through a quartet of exhaust pipes, a lip spoiler and a rear diffuser that maintains a laminar flow of air.

The R-badged XF gets a deserving set of 20-inch alloy wheels with again, “Supercharged” motif stamped onto the rims. Subtle but stylish.

Overall, the XFR carries a bulk — an athletic looking bulk might I add
similar to how the last generation Lexus GS looked.

The Speed pack gets the XFR a revised engine and gearbox calibration, and a new top speed of 280 km/h. That’s not all, on the inside you get revised gauges and the outside gets a big bundle of changes including a revised front bumper aero splitter, boot lid spoiler and a spoiler mounted brake light.

All for extra cost, of course.

There are parts of the interiors that state you are sharing one of the hot seats in mission control and that the Mars Rover is about to touch down. Phosphor-blue ambient lighting animate and liven up the instruments, switchgear, the major control panels and the interiors as a whole. The red-lit starter button pulsates like a throbbing heart, showing that the car is alive or that it has something to get you adrenalin going.

Then there are these retractable air vents seamlessly integrated into the dashboard. They show their backsides when the car is switched off and flip around, when air con is turned on. You also get this rotating gearshift dial called the JaguarDrive Selector, which rises out from the centre console.

The 3-spoke leather steering has the right thickness and size; Jaguar deliberately has stayed away from flat-bottom steering wheels. They are keeping it tastefully old-fashioned.

You can quite easily find the right driving posture by using the 18-way power-adjustability of the form-hugging front seats. There is a memory -option for the two drivers in the house, and if the air-conditioner doesn’t do the trick, you can heat or cool the seats. Mind you, the air-con does a clerk’s job of counting; it is very efficient!

The soft grain leather upholstery has a two-tone shade, mixing between charcoal, red tan or ivory. All XFRs come with a combination of dark mesh aluminium on the instrument panel 
and doors trims, and a choice of black oak wood veneer, piano black or 
exquisite carbon fibre material. Double stitched detailing keeps the stretches of leather together both on the seats and dashboard.

Your insurance papers would state that the XF is a 5-seater, but only four adults can be accommodated in comfort. The fifth member will have to share foot space with the arching transmission tunnel.

Trying to find your favourite shade from the selection of 11 exterior paints isn’t a task at all, and many car aficionados will opt for the Italian racing red or British racing green for that historic resonance.

Jaguar are adamant about leaving reminders all over the place, so you have the R-badging on the steering wheel, in the instrument panel and instrument dials, and even embossed prints on the head rests.

Somewhere, you get the feeling that the XF has aged even in R-trim, albeit ageing gracefully. Also, it loses nothing to the sleek and sharp auto-bodies of the day.

Powertrain & Performance


While the world has woken up to the ways of turbo-charging engines large and small, Jaguar seems to want nothing to do with high pressure exiting fumes. Instead, they want to use a 
supercharger to pump up the volume, quite literally. Displacing 5 litres of air-fuel mixture, the XFRs V8 works hard to put out 503 bhp between 6,000 and 6,750 rpm. In comparison, the Jaguar XJ220 — the world’s fastest production car in the early 90s — produced 540 bhp and 644 Nm of torque. The world certainly has progressed since days of David Bowie and Margaret Thatcher.

Linking the crank to the rear wheel is Jaguar’s new ZF 8-speed automatic, which is as slick as DiCaprio’s hair. The shifts are clean and precise, even revving the nuts off the motor.

Even if you give the throttle a slight boot, you get a feel that the XFR is a shuttle waiting to launch; give it the full Monty and it hurls you down the street, no holds barred. The midrange is especially meaty — small squirts of the throttle gets giant leaps of the Jaguar. It takes only 4.9 seconds to show many muscle cars who is the boss, and in that process, brush past the 100 km/h. Jag has limited the XFR to 250 km/h, but sources suggest the limit sits well above that. The muted mumble from the tail pipes are a bit of a concern though. You don’t buy a Dh400,000 car and make no noise about it, or do you?

The XFR is a mild-mannered saloon car that your grandparents would love to go shopping in. But as soon as the electronic nannies are off, your right foot will set this beast free. Burn outs, power slides and even drifting are part of the mix. Even if you slog it out at the local circuit, hunting for that elusive lap record, the XFR does it obediently. The servotronic steering is direct without being stubborn and the active differential helps the car follow the racing line with road-hugging intimacy.

A massive 15-inch front disc and a 14.8-inch rear disc help purge unwan-ted speed, be it for evading traffic or stopping for a red light. Brake pedal feel is accurate and linear; and you need that kind of equipment; after all, driving fun is as much going fast as it is about going slow… in the right places. Don’t know if the red brake calipers had anything to do with them!

Like the English, the supercharged XF keeps its drinking habits and takes the weather with it wherever it goes. Jaguar claim a sober fuel consumption of 11.3 l/100km, but on the road, the 500-pony machine encourages the boisterous nature of your right foot, ensuring that your local petrol station owner gets overflowing business. Also, it makes the 70-litre tank look rather shallow. That said, it may not care much for economy but it does for ecology, emitting only 270 grams of C02 per kilometre, which is commendable even by regular saloon standards.

Features & functionality


The Jaguar XF’s 540-litre trunk is dark and deep, which prepares you for the miles and miles you go between sleep. It just maybe the biggest we have seen on any sedan yet. Unfortunately, the 60:40 folding rear seats are a priced option in this car, but worth every bit of the 963-litre capacity. Jag, get your priorities sorted!

Audio company Meridian has struck a contract with Jaguar; what that means to you as an owner is that on the base model, you have a 11-speaker 380-Watt sound system with a single slot CD/DVD. But if you want to do it wknd. style, throw in the change for the optional 825 Watt 17-speaker. A USB port and aux-in has been accounted for. Both systems do their duties well and the crisp notes that resonate easily makes up for the muted exhaust note.

The web is full of videos of how rich-idiot drivers bend more than a fender via their throttle-happy antics. Jaguar has taken note of that kind of demeanour, and although it is not expected from a Jag-owner, you do get a bunch of electronics to save you from that kind of trouble. Option it up properly and you get front and rear parking aid with rear camera. Then you have adaptive cruise control, to which you can set your maximum highway speed? Nice way of avoiding a speeding fine. The XFR also has adaptive front lighting that stretches out the spread of light for you when you are on the highway, and automatically returns to a short reach in the cities. Notable mentions are emergency brake assist, dynamic stabi-lity control & lane departure warning.

The XFR also has keyless entry and push button start to get you rolling; and Bluetooth connectivity to keep your hands on the steering and eyes on the road, at all times.

Verdict


The 2013 Jaguar XFR triumphs as a winning choice for those who do not obsess over any one criteria, but like a fair share of speed, style and comfort. The hard-edged German rivals are deeply entrenched in the minds of the public, but if you like a little British in your brute, one that reflects the subtleties of a fine a lifestyle without sharing the glaring spotlight that Prince George does, say yes to the XFR. Anything else, just ain’t cricket.



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