Monday 27th June 2011


We try out the mildly massaged fast XF. Is it still a force to be reckoned with?

Handing back the keys of the 2009 PH Fleet XFR that we had on long-term loan was hard to do - we loved it that much. So when they asked us if we'd like to get our hands on the latest incarnation around the Portimao circuit it didn't take a lot of head-scratching ...

Jaguar has taken the latest look of the 2012-model XF a stage further with the XFR. Starting at the front, the three airdams are more deeply recessed while on top of the bonnet the power bulge is still flanked by a pair of neat cooling vents.

The wing mirrors, too, are new and have been designed to reduce wind noise - which they probably do but they seemed to be enormous compared with the old ones and, combined with an A-pillar of some girth, hampered visibility just a tad when we needed to be looking further ahead on bends.

Looking at the car side-on the wheels still measure 20 inches in diameter but have been redesigned, and the sills have a slightly be-flared look thanks to some subtle extensions. Completing the exterior update at the rear are new light clusters, and a redesigned bumper and diffuser.

Jaguar's not-so-shouty approach to the exterior styling continues on the inside, where the steering wheel and ventilation switchgear are both new. The seats, too, have been redesigned and certainly look a bit different. They're supremely comfortable and allow a wide range of adjustment - but then again the seats in 'our' car could have been described in exactly the same way so it's hard to tell exactly how much of an improvement the new ones are. The most relevant change in the cabin is the reprogrammed navigation and entertainment software, which is less complicated to operate and simply puts less of a demand on you to operate it.

Beneath the subtly enhanced exterior and interior, the mechanical enhancements are, erm, non-existant. The 5.0-litre supercharged V8 is the same as before, as is the ZF transmission, the rear end, and all the suspension and steering. But that's not exactly bad news...

Out on the circuit we got to properly reacquaint ourselves with the XFR, and we can report that dynamically it's still a match for any fast executive saloon out there.

The turn-in is very sharp for a heavy-ish car, and throughout the cornering process the DSC, E-diff, and trick dampers still do their thing to keep the car feeling supple yet utterly content to hold its line or change direction very sharply indeed. And as for the brakes, they always were more than up to the task of halting the Jag's 1891 kilos and showed no sign of fading at all (although to be fair we did only three hot laps at a time).

You'll need £65,350 to get your hands on one - which is probably about ten grand less than the new M5 will set you back when it's released in November. Until then at least, the XFR is still in our opinion the finest combination of performance and comfort in its sector.



Author: silversixx
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