With the Active Differential Control activated, we could feel the extra power pumping into the outside rear wheel during turns, pushing the back end around with extra rotation. It's good technology to have when you have 510 horsepower to play with.
However, its Adaptive Dynamics are a little harder to sense. According to Jaguar, this system changes the response of the suspension to suit the driving style. Our driving style was white knuckle slewing around corners whenever possible, so we assume it was the Adaptive Dynamics working to keep the car under control as we crushed turn after turn. But the XFR still showed some lean, as the suspension didn't completely counteract the centrifugal force working on the body.
We also found that the car's stability control came on a little strong at times, even when running over centerline reflectors in the road, resulting in a sudden loss of power. When you really want to get nuts, preferably on a track, you can turn off the stability control with a button on the console. With it disabled, a mere quarter throttle at start made the rear tires burn.
Although the XFR handled extraordinarily well during fast cornering, it wasn't the most comfortable ride during freeway cruising. With all the performance gear off, the suspension is still fairly rigid, not exactly floating over bumps and grinds in the road.
We reveled in the XFR's road performance, but were less thrilled with its cabin tech. The XFR's interior, with its metal, wood, and leather, is a beautiful place. We especially like that Jaguar virtually eliminates plastic surfaces from the cabin. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi could learn a thing or two about coachwork from Jaguar.
We also like the show put on by the XFR when you get in and start it up. Similar to the standard XF, the start button pulses with a red backlight when you get in. Push that button, and the transmission dial rises up from the console while the air vents open up. To complete the picture, Jaguar should really make the LCD flip over or open up, as it just sits there as the most obvious piece of technology in the cabin.
The LCD is also where most of this car's problems start. Its touch-screen interface is awful, with a sliding left-side menu reminiscent of Web site design from the '90s. Looks aside, the interface requires you to go back to the home screen to access each cabin tech function. If you are in the audio screen and want to look at the map, you have to hit the home button, then hit the navigation menu item. We would prefer buttons for direct access to each of the main cabin tech functions.
The navigation system itself is mediocre, merely providing basic route guidance on 2D maps. There is no traffic or weather information, and the system's reaction time isn't quick. Given the wonderful sport driving characteristics of this car, terrain information would be nice for the maps.
On the other hand, the XFR's audio system is exceptional. There is an MP3 compatible six-disc CD changer in the dash, but we mostly relied on the iPod connection in the console, mounted next to a USB port and auxiliary jack. However, the touch-screen interface remained problematic and we found it required too much attention to select music from our iPod library.
The 440-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system reproduced music from our iPod with excellent definition. It uses 14 speakers, including a subwoofer and center fill, set around the cabin. We could feel the light thumping of bass in the door panels, but it didn't rattle. At high volume, this surround-sound system flooded the car with well-balanced frequencies, doing a good job of separating each instrument. It fits into the top tier of premium audio systems alongside THX, Mark Levinson, and ELS.
Rounding out the cabin tech suite is a solid Bluetooth phone system imports contact lists from paired phones. We had no problem pairing it with an iPhone, although we did have to reconnect it with the car on subsequent trips.
The XFR seals its luxury tech credentials with driver aid features. Its adaptive cruise control works easily, activated just by pushing the speed adjustment button on the steering wheel. Along with being able to set the gap between the XFR and traffic ahead, you can increase or decrease the set speed increment by 1 mph at a time.
Its blind-spot-warning system is also effective, flashing an icon in the sideview mirrors if another car is in the blind spot. The rearview camera is also one of the more advanced we've seen, showing distance warnings and trajectory lines.
Jaguar's XF is one of the better values in a luxury car available today. The 2010 Jaguar XFR is substantially more expensive than the base model, but its level of performance and standard equipment makes it worth it, especially as an alternative to a BMW M or Mercedes-Benz AMG. We were very happy with the power and efficiency of the engine and the driving dynamics. However, the XFR suffers a little from its humdrum cruising performance, where its ride quality lacks the level of luxury we would expect.
Despite the mediocre navigation system, its cabin tech is mostly good. The iPod connection works fine and the Bluetooth phone system does most of what we expect it to do. Add to that the fine-sounding Bowers & Wilkins audio system and the driver aid features, and the XFR scores reasonably well. However, the touch screens poor interface design, which is neither very pretty nor functional, is a major let down. The only thing propping up the design score are the XFR's cabin appointments, as its exterior is unremarkable.
|Model||2010 Jaguar XFR|
|Power train||Supercharged direct injection 5-liter V-8|
|EPA fuel economy||15 mpg city/21 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||16.5 mpg|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||MP3 compatible 6 disc changer|
|MP3 player support||iPod integration|
|Other digital audio||USB drive, auxiliary input, Satellite radio|
|Audio system||Bowers & Wilkins surround sound 440-watt 14-speaker system|
|Driver aids||Adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning, rearview camera, speed limiter|
|Price as tested||$80,000|