Driven: 2012 Jaguar XFR

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.



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Comments (33) Join the discussion on the forum

  • johnpeat 27 Jun 2011

    The only real problem with the original XF was that it looked a touch too-much like a Mazda.

    That looks MORE like one - it's clearly a plan...

  • Schnellmann 27 Jun 2011

    Although changes to the front (in particular the lights) are not significant it has made the XF/XFR so much better looking - to me at least.

    I'm not in the market for this sort of car at the moment...but if I were I'd be tempted to take the XFR, or at least give it a good try. That is result for Jaguar as I've never even considered their cars before (at least not one they have made in the last 40 years!)

  • Lets Torque 27 Jun 2011

    Very Nice, I really like the face-lift.

    Sadly I don't think they will sell many because BMW will launch the 'new' M5 around the same time.

    Which one would I pick? Tough call but I would give them an equal fight and see which one is best.


  • fatboy b 27 Jun 2011

    johnpeat said:
    The only real problem with the original XF was that it looked a touch too-much like a Mazda.

    That looks MORE like one - it's clearly a plan...
    Nope - you got me there. Just been through the Mazda range, and can't see what you're getting at.

  • zakelwe 27 Jun 2011

    I thought the old XF pretty good looking but agree with the other folks on this thread that the update is a success. More aggression from the headlights and they have just kept the right side of making the grill too much.

    The sales will contine to roll in.

    I feared for Jaguar and Land Rover a while back, but they are both doing well.

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