Jaguar XF-R unveiled at Detroit auto show 2009

Published: 10 January 2009

Click here to watch the video of the Jaguar XK-R and XK-F

Jaguar’s XFR is shown today at the Detroit auto show 2009 – and the XFR at a stroke becomes the fastest saloon the Midlands manufacturer has ever made for the roads. Jag has taken the XF saloon and fettled it with the new direct-injection 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine that supersedes the familiar 4.2, but breathed upon by a new supercharger to crank out a wholesome 503bhp.

The R model is extremely rapid, thanks to a classic Ayers Rock torque curve that peaks at 461lb ft from just 2000rpm and doesn’t go away until 5000rpm. There’s brawn wherever you need it, and the XFR scuttles to 60mph in a scant 4.7sec. Of rather more use is the scintillating 50-70mph time of ohmygawd 1.9sec.

Jaguar’s M5 rival… how pricey is the XFR?

This is where the news gets even better. The British alternative to the admittedly excellent M5/E63/RS6 mob will undercut the Teutonic super-saloons by a fair margin, costing £59,900 when sales kick off in April 2009.

By comparison, the BMW weighs in at £65,325, the Merc £66,642, and the Audi a rather worrying £74,550. The pricing plaudits belong to Coventry. However, at this level, a price advantage is of less importance than being able to drive rings around the competition. And that will be no easy task when the opposition is of this calibre…

Will the XFR go sideways like in the pictures, mister?

It sounds like it. The standard XF is an excellent foundation for a performance saloon, and Jag’s chassis experts have made substantial changes to the XFR. It’s lowered by 27mm and new adjustable Bilstein dampers are fitted at each corner. But the big news is Jaguar’s first active diff, which shuffles torque to the rear wheels. Fiddle with the switch, and there’s even a ‘drift’ mode for lairy burn-out action.

There’s no mistaking the XFR for a humbler diesel. A subtly beefy bodykit includes a new bumper, chromed air intakes deep on the front valance, bonnet vents to feed the compressor, a subtle boot spoiler, skirts and telltale quad exhausts.

And those 20-inch alloy wheels are based on the design of the C-XF concept car – you know, the one that set the whole ball rolling two years ago…

The XFR looks tasty, but it’s hardly a car for the times!

Fear not. The new 5.0 V8 is available in 380bhp naturally aspirated form too. And don’t forget, we reported a few weeks back on the new, swollen 3.0-litre diesels. Our biggest criticism of the XF so far has been that the big-selling diesel feels slothful, but the lung transplant promises to bring more adequate performance.

The new 3.0 D is available in 237bhp or 271bhp formats – the latter knocking on the door of the BMW 535d. All the new engines are cleaner and less thirsty than those they replace.   

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet