Every so often, a car comes along that redefines a brand. Sometimes it transforms the industry as well. That happened with the March 1961 launch of the Jaguar E-Type—a grand tourer so distinctive and ahead of its time that it still looks delightfully fresh nearly a half century later.
However, in recent years, those captivated by Jaguar’s eye-popping designs couldn’t have been blamed for thinking the maker had grown flabby and forgetful of its heritage. The 2007 debut of the midsize XF “saloon car” lent hope for the passionate with its subtle hints of the original Jaguar Mark 2 and intriguing features like the heartbeat red pulse of the car’s start button. But still it lacked the power to stand up to such competitors as the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG.
Now comes the Jaguar XFR with a difference you feel in the seat of your pants and the snap of your neck—never mind the envious look on the face of the driver in the next lane. The heart of this new beast pumps a good bit faster, thanks to some tweaking of its supercharged 5.0-liter V-8, beginning with its twin intercoolers and direct fuel injection. The result is a 90-horsepower power infusion, bringing it to 510 horsepower.
Of course, we’re long past the muscle-car era, when raw power was all that mattered. And the 2010 Jaguar XFR is, as the British might say, the “compleat” car. It’s got the quick and nimble steering, the stiffer springs, the progressively damped suspension—to minimize pitch and roll—and the big 20-inch wheels, shod with low-profile Dunlop rubber, that
you’d expect of a true performance machine. For seriously hard-charging driving, shift into dynamic mode and the shocks stiffen further.
The aggressive styling cues complete the package, and the larger front and rear fascia, along with the side skirts and chrome hood scoops are functional, not just for the looks. Inside, you’ll be reminded you’re in the performance edition by the “R” badge on the dashboard, as well as the slick Alcantara headliner and crosshatch metal trim on the instrument panel.
No, the XFR isn’t perfect. The infotainment system can be a bit perplexing to operate. And, like the “base” XF, the coupe is short of rear headroom. We’d also like to hear a bit more noise from the exhaust to remind us when we’ve gone extra-legal. But all in all, the 2010 XFR is precisely what Jaguar needed to get its claws sharpened.