Saturday 22 August 2009
Top speed: 155mph 0-60mph 4.7 seconds
CO2 emissions: 292g/km
Best for: Fun-lovers
Also worth considering? BMW M5; Mercedes-Benz CLS 63AMG; Audi S6
The most pleasing thing about the Jaguar XFR isn't so much its phenomenal performance or its supreme stylishness. It is an intense sense of relief that here is a British car that, to borrow a phrase from glories past, can beat the world. For the one area where the firm has lagged behind ever-more capable competition from the German and Japanese brands is in its technological abilities. Gadgets, that is. Yet here in the classy, contemporary interior of the XFR is all that you could ask for: adaptive cruise control (so it brakes and accelerates to keep a set distance from the car ahead); reverse parking camera, heated steering wheel, touch-screen electronics, blind-spot warning device on the door mirrors, Freeview and DAB radio, the best of in-car audio systems, the whole caboodle. Yes, the toy count is competitive, and it is wonderful to behold.
Indeed I would go further and say that the Jaguar's minor controls – air con, audio, satnav, that sort of thing – are better laid out and easier to use than those of its peers, which usually involve twiddling a big round knob (like the top of a jam jar) between the front seats. Using the Jaguar's touch screen is a little distracting – the buttons/icons need to be bigger – but it still feels safer than the BMW system ("iDrive") or the similar set-ups in Audis ("Multi Media Interface") and Mercedes-Benz ("COMAND"). The Germans seem obsessed with neat'n'tidy dashboards, but they do the driver few favours. Thank goodness they all also boast steering-wheel controls, as does the Jaguar.
The Jaguar also scores well over the competition when it comes to the balance between performance and ride. The XFR probably is a bit slower than the BMW M5, though it has a far better transmission, and it's marginally less thrilling than the gorgeous Mercedes-Benz CLS AMG, for example. But the Jaguar's suspension pulls off the remarkable feat of retaining a relatively compliant ride and cosseting in a way that the other German set-ups do not. As for that performance, this burbling V8-powered Jaguar is exactly as you'd hope it to be – breathtaking. It does get a little "tail happy" if you start abusing it, but that's just part of the supercharged fun. It's all there to enjoy, and in some comfort.
So here's a Jaguar that has got it all and needs no excuses. Quite a change. It deserves to succeed, and to drag all the badge snobs out of their BMWs, Mercedes and Audis. But will it?
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