Big sports machines are one important area in which the Brits can challenge the Germans and the Italians without feeling in any way embarrassed.

Take the subject of this week’s road test for example. The Jaguar XF R – the ‘R’ tells us it’s from the high-performance division of Jaguar that tackles BMW’s M Division, Mercedes’ AMG and Audi’s RS head on – has just been fitted with a new heart. For 2010, the already good 4.2-litre engine from the previous XF R has been replaced by an all-new supercharged 5.0-litre V8 punching out 500 horsepower, 374 kW, and a very satisfying 625 Nm of torque.

This stunning powerplant propels the big XF R saloon from rest to 100 km/h in a mere 4.9 seconds. Not so many years ago there were pure bred sports cars that couldn’t get off the line with that much alacrity. Acceleration like this makes overtaking ridiculously easy and ultra safe. The engine also makes a mockery of the low speed limits with which we are lumbered in Australia as it’s obviously keen to run at normal motorway speeds of 130 to 140 km/h.

It’s not just the big push in the back the new Jaguar V8 provides that makes us smile when sitting beside this engine. Being supercharged means you don’t get the irritating lag that plagues turbocharged units. Put your foot down in the big Jag and it responds virtually instantly – you want the car to go faster and it does. Perhaps it’s the control freak in me, but I like it like that…

Then there’s the exhaust note, a real cat-like snarl that’s big in quality as well as volume.

The feel of this supercharged 5.0-litre is something you have to experience to really understand what it’s all about. This engine has the slight roughness in its throb that’s made V8s the preferred engines amongst muscle car enthusiasts since the 1930s. Jaguar’s engineers could have smoothed their engine out to the extent that you would barely have realised that it was there – but because they have a deep understanding of what V8s are all about deliberately chose not to do so. We love it…

Sitting behind the new engine is a version of the ZF six-speed automatic transmission that we have admired in so many other cars – including our own home-grown Ford Falcon. This auto has been re-tuned to suit the needs of the sporting driver who wants to get the best from an R Jaguar. This results in very fast shifts that really get the best from the blown engine. Those looking for silky smooth shifting may be disappointed, that’s because some sacrifice has been made in shift quality in order to get maximum power to the road as soon as possible.

For those who like having ratio control, the XF features F1 style paddles on the steering wheel. One on the left for downshifts, that on the right for upshifts. As is often the way, the paddles are set too close to the steering wheel, so you can’t get a proper grip on the wheel for the full 360 degrees.

You don’t get this sort of performance without using extra fuel, but the engineers have done a pretty good job in the efficiency stakes. Expect your big supercharged Jaguar to use about 14 to 17 litres per hundred kilometres around town and when pushing it on your favourite stretch of winding country road. This will drop dramatically in easy motorway running and in gentle weekend cruising on the open road, expect petrol consumption to be as low as nine to eleven litres per hundred.


The big Jaguar does not sacrifice ride and comfort for handling. The big cat grips, and grips hard no matter how hard you push it. The Adaptive Dynamics System monitors body movements 100 times a second, and wheel positions 500 times a second to instantly adjust for optimum handling and ride. There’s also active differential control which limits slip between the rear wheels. This British sports saloon really inspires driver confidence, but before pushing it to extremes always remember that physics will win in the end…

Jaguar XF R is relatively conservative in its appearance. Its alloy wheels are 20-inch, and there are revised bumpers and lower front air intakes, sill extensions, bonnet louvers, four tail pipes and boot lid spoiler.

There’s a `leaper’ – a chromed leaping Jaguar – on the middle of the boot. The grille and steering wheel centre feature the `roarer’, the roaring Jaguar emblem, leaving you in no doubt of the marque you are driving.

The new Jaguar XF R is scintillating in its performance, but this is at little cost to comfort. The ride is slightly firm, but luxuriously comfortable, even across uneven country roads. This Jaguar is just as at home on the open road as in the suburbs, though it’s perfectly comfortable in peak hour traffic, its real forte is eating up the miles on highways.


XF R 5.0-litre supercharged petrol four-door sedan: $204,990

ABS Brakes: Standard
Air Conditioning: Standard
Automatic Transmission: Standard
CD Player: Standard
Central Locking: Standard
Cruise Control: Standard
Dual Front Airbags: Standard
Front Side Airbags: Standard
Stability Control: Standard
Traction Control: Standard

SPECIFICATIONS (Jaguar XF R 5.0-litre supercharged four-door sedan)

Capacity: 5.000 litres
Configuration: V8
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Bore/Stroke: 92.5 mm x 93.0 mm
Maximum Power: 375 kW @ 6000-6500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 625 Nm @ 2500-5500 rpm

Driven Wheels: Rear
Manual Transmission: Not offered
Automatic Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive Ratio: 3.31:1

Length: 4961 mm
Wheelbase: 2909 mm
Width: 1877 mm
Height: 1460 mm
Turning Circle: 11.5 metres
Kerb Mass: 1891 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 69.5 litres
Towing Ability: 1850 kg with braked trailer

Front Suspension: Double wishbone
Rear Suspension: Multi-link
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Ventilated disc

0-100 km/h Acceleration: 4.9 seconds

Type: Petrol 95RON
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 12.5 L/100km

Greenhouse Rating: 4/10
Air Pollution Rating: 6.5/10

Three years/100,000 km

© Copyright Marque Publishing Company

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *