Green light! As the XFR's accelerator pedals met with its soft downy carpet, so the guttural bellow of its V8 met the summery evening air. The race was on
Waiting patiently at the traffic lights for that familiar shade of green, we noticed something unusual. The number of passing pedestrians gazing in the direction of our XFR had increased. It was nothing to do with the car's inherent beauty -- not this time. Today, the Jag shared its limelight with a shiny yellow Lotus Elise that had pulled boorishly alongside, its driver making the sort of eye contact that demanded a race. What the hell, we were running late for Andy Murray's game at Wimbledon anyway.
The speed limit on the road ahead was a meagre 60mph -- not even half the Jag's electronically limited 155mph maximum. Not wanting to offend the lawmakers, we hit the ASL button on the centre console to engage the car's automatic speed-limiting feature, thumbed the corresponding dial on the steering wheel 'til it read 60, twisted the JaguarDrive gear selector clockwise from D to S (for sport, natch), and tugged the left paddle behind the steering wheel to access first gear. This was going to be like shooting a piece of cake from a baby's hand, using a shotgun loaded with fish.
Only it shouldn't have been. The odds were stacked firmly in the Lotus' favour. Here was a car that weighed slightly more than a lady's handbag, and was powerful and well-rooted enough to worry a Ferrari F430 on a twisty track. The XFR shouldn't have stood a chance, but it had one ace up its sleeve -- Jaguar's newly developed 5-litre supercharged V8 engine. According to the press blurb, it produces 510bhp and 460 lb-ft of torque, which was enough to eclipse even an F430's 490bhp and 345 lb-ft.
As the lights turned amber, so our nervousness increased. Yes, the XFR had enough power to shame the Large Hadron Collider, but it was heavy. Jaguar's pursuit of ultimate luxury had pushed the car's curb weight to a startling 1,891kg. Inside, it had fitted an 18cm (7-inch) touchscreen entertainment system that lets you watch digital Freeview TV, listen to DAB radio, access music via an iPod or USB stick, and play the whole shebang via a 7.1-channel Dolby Pro Logic II audio system from Bowers & Wilkins. The Lotus, in contrast, had some seats and a steering wheel. It weighed literally half as much, a paltry 900kg.
Green light! As foot met accelerator pedal and accelerator pedal greeted soft carpet, so the guttural bellow of the XFR's V8 molested the evening air. Dynamic Stability Control meant there wasn't so much as a chirp from the car's 20-inch wheels, but the lightweight Lotus was in front. Curses! A tug of the right shift paddle snatched second gear and within moments, things were firmly back in our favour. The XFR entered hyperdrive, swallowing the vacant tarmac and leaving the Lotus for dead.
4.7 seconds later, the XFR's speed limiter kicked in at an indicated 60mph -- just as we'd requested. Throttle input was reduced, and about a second after that (it may have been slightly longer), the yellow dot in the rear view mirror pulled alongside. There would be no need for eye contact -- we both knew the score.
Victory assured, we pulled in at the next service station. The XFR's sat-nav had just informed us there was heavy traffic in 4 miles, so there was little chance we'd make the start of our tennis match. No drama -- the car had a telly, surround sound and a roof. Watching the match in the comfort of the XFR would beat getting soaked at Wimbledon anyway.
The Jag's infotainment system is one of the best we've seen. The tabs on the left are used for navigating between audio and TV, heating and air conditioning, phone pairing, sat-nav and vehicle settings.
That big number in the centre tells you what gear you're in, while the rev counter to its right doubles as a decibel meter. It's perfectly civilised during everyday cruising, but when you put your foot down, damn this car is loud!
Hit the start/stop button and the JaguarDrive gear selector rises magestically from the centre console. Simply twist it to select gear. The buttons below it toggle winter mode and dynamic stability control, though you'll want to leave the latter switched on unless you're on a track.
Here's a wider view of the cabin. It's a remarkably refined and comfortable place to be. There are five speakers up front (including a centre channel on the dashboard), two at the rear, and a subwoofer lurking in the ample boot.