A year ago at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Jaguar introduced a car that was unlike anything we were expecting. We know and love Jaguar for sleek, low cars that exude sex appeal.
Compared to its siblings, it’s rather stubby, and it’s got a big wing stuck on the back of it. But a peek under the hood reveals that the XFR-S isn’t an abomination, it’s just something new. Something very powerful, and very fast.
Over the weekend, we had the chance to spend a few days with the 550-horsepower, four-door, five-seat sedan. We took it out of Manhattan, up to Bear Mountain, where the roads all curve and the engine can do its thing.
That’s where it all clicked. The XFR-S is no joy to look at. But it’s a terrific performance car.
The XFR-S starts for $US99,000. The version we tested cost $US105,770.
Let's start with a quick look back at Jaguar's past. The brand makes fantastically sleek cars, like the iconic E-Type.
Then there's the XFR-S. It's cool, yes. But 'gorgeous' doesn't apply. It seems a bit chunky, really.
And unlike on the F-Type, where the spoiler only deploys at certain speeds, Jaguar slapped an (optional) big wing on the back of the XFR-S.
A Jaguar rep told us 'the XFR-S buyer is different from the core XF customer, who is much more understated in comparison.' For customers, the brand expects wealthy men, ages 36 to 55.
Now, this is still a Jaguar, so the inside is full of fancy materials. The front seats are heated and cooled, and you get a backup camera and blind spot detection system.
I was glad to find a good spot for my phone, but worried that all the acceleration would end up cracking the screen.
And up it pops. Note the buttons for Winter and Dynamic driving mode. You can also manually shift gears with paddles on the steering wheel.
I didn't play with the infotainment system too much, but it was pretty simple and easy to use, the way I like it.
That extends to the center console as a whole -- Jaguar did a good job keeping things functional without too many buttons.
Jaguar included a Meridian sound system, but what you really want to hear is the engine and the exhaust.
So yes, the XFR-S is a thrill to drive. It's powerful, fast, and responsive. With its utilitarian looks, it's the roaring black sheep of the Jaguar family.
But Jaguar plans to make only 100 in the first year, so we're not too worried about their bottom line. I don't expect to ever see many of these on the road, but I'm glad they exist.
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