Jaguar XF R: the scoop
Only weeks after the regular XF was unveiled at this autumn's Frankfurt Motor Show, CAR Online has caught the first pictures of the R version. Forget the scoop images of the strange S-type/XF mule that have been circulating on the worldwide web - this one is the actual car.
Our sources tell us it uses the same supercharged 4.2-litre V8 as the cooking XF, but tuned to a higher state of athleticism. Breathing more deeply with higher boost pressures, this one is said to put out closer to 500bhp. Right on BMW M5 money, then.
What makes you think this is the R version?
This prototype has various telltale signs suggesting this is the musclebound R. Every version seen so far has twin tailpipe exhausts, whereas this model sports quad pipes at the rear; the ride height is noticeably lower; the mesh grille is menacingly blackened; and those huge five-spoke alloys are a) vast (every XF was designed to wear 20in rims, claims design boss Ian Callum) and b) wrapped around very serious-looking ventilated discs.
Perhaps most telling of all was the rather panicked voice in Coventry when we asked Jag's press handlers about the new spy photos that have just landed in our intray. 'No comment' was order of the day.
Our man on the ground who took the photos near Jag's engineering HQ is certain it's the R, too. 'It didn't sound like any other XF I've photographed in the past year,' he told us. The balance of evidence makes us agree.
So when can we buy the new XF R?
Humdrum 2.7 V6 diesel and petrol V6 and V8 models don't go on sale until March 2008, so you're looking at a somewhat longer wait for the high-performance version. We reckon the hot one will be shown at a motor show in late 2008, with sales kicking off in early '09. It should be one of the fastest four-doors on sale, with pace to challenge the Merc E63, Audi RS6 and BMW M5.
All this is dependent on the sale of Jaguar, of course. We're still waiting to see which suitor eventually buys the Coventry firm. But that's not stopping the engineers honing this, the most eagerly anticipated sports saloon to wear the leaping cat badge for years.
The XF's styling has split opinion like few other Jags (people either love it or hate it on CAR Online), but we're expecting it to be a sharp drive. If there was one thing that didn't need fixing on the S-type with which it shares mechanicals, it was the poised chassis and excellent drivetrain. Let's hope they don't lose anything in translation.