You could almost hear the British Commonwealth groan in 2008 when Tata Motors of India bought Jaguar Land Rover. Almost five years later, you’d be hard-pressed to find commentary saying it hasn’t worked out for the best for the venerable car maker. And, if the 2013 XFR is any indication, the cars coming off the production line are as classy as anything that ever sported the big cat sculpture on the hood.
The first way to gauge a new vehicle is the number of thumbs up, shouts of “nice car” and big smiles it gets from anyone it rolls past. The one we test drove elicited three in the first 15 minutes. Figuring out why wasn’t hard. The sleek lines of the XF hide the fact that it is a mid-size sedan, and the gentle rumble of the full-throated exhaust signal that this is not your grandfather’s Jaguar.
The 2013 XFR sports a 510-horsepower supercharged V8, which is unquestionably adequate for its weight (4,100 pounds) as its magic 0-to-60-mph number is officially 4.7 seconds. The top speed is limited to 155 mph, although in the Sport and Speed packages that is jumped up to 174 mph. The eight-speed automatic transmission, controlled with paddle shifters on the steering wheel, is smooth and quick, and while purists might prefer to push a clutch, they won’t feel performance is impeded.
The car is outfitted with a high-quality Meridian sound system with a satellite radio. A touch-screen controls audio and the easy-to-master nav system, which is integrated into the dashboard command center.
You shouldn’t mistake this for a pure sports car. It is a touring sedan that is equipped with enough power to drive as fast as you want and to handle adequately through any winding road you might find. The upside of that kind of size in a car translates into an extremely comfortable five-person passenger compartment. The front seats are designed to hold the driver and passenger tightly in place without foresaking comfort level.
The best news for Jaguar lovers is the automaker’s traditional blend of sportiness and luxury remains intact. Furthermore, at a suggested list price of $83,200, this car competes favorably with S-series Audis and AMG Mercedes-Benz.