2010 Jaguar XFR
2010 Jaguar XFR. Click image to enlarge
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Test Drive: 2009 Jaguar XF
First Drive: 2009 Jaguar XF

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2010 Jaguar XF

Oshawa, Ontario – This year, a new auto award was announced: the Women’s World Car of the Year, which asked a international panel of female auto journalists to drive and assess 21 new vehicles, all of which had to be available in a minimum of ten countries. Taking the top spot in the Luxury class, and then winning the overall title, was the 2010 Jaguar XF.

I was one of the judges, and frankly, I expected a more mundane vehicle to take the crown – after all, we women are traditionally supposed to be overwhelmingly practical and value-minded. Still, I couldn’t help but smile when I heard the news. I wasn’t alone in appreciating the attributes of a fine automobile, and the XF certainly is that.

2010 Jaguar XFR
2010 Jaguar XFR
2010 Jaguar XFR. Click image to enlarge

My ride was the XFR, a new model for 2010 and now the flagship of the range, which also includes the XF 4.2 and XF 5.0. Like the XF 5.0, the XFR uses the 5.0-litre powerplant, a new direct-injection V8 added for 2010. Unlike its sibling, the XFR adds a supercharger, which bumps up the horsepower from 385 in the naturally-aspirated engine to 510 in the puffered version. It also increases torque from 380 lb-ft to 461, which remains constant from 2,500 r.p.m. all the way to 5,500 r.p.m. Jaguar says zero to 100 km/h takes just 4.9 seconds, and while I didn’t actually time it, my foot to the floor said there was no reason to doubt it. Even more important is the 80-to-112 km/h acceleration – the number that gets you out of nasty spots in traffic – which it manages in just 1.9 seconds.

The XF was introduced in the 2009 model year as a replacement for the S-Type, and as such, it’s the brand’s entry-level offering – that being relative, of course, as my car punched the clock at $85,300, before a sole option of a $300 heated windshield. (Through an acquaintance’s experience, though, I’ve heard that the cost of replacing this brand’s sizzling windscreen once it’s out of warranty could almost buy you a new economy hatchback.)

The 2009 XF used only the 4.2-litre V8, both in naturally-aspirated and supercharged format. That supercharged version made 420 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque – respectable enough, but no match for this newest kitten in the lineup.

All XF models are four-door sedans, with a sloping roofline that adds to the XFR’s timeless styling, but which can cause some serious headroom issues for taller rear-seat passengers. Several cues differentiate the XFR from the other two XF models: unique 20-inch wheels covering the largest brakes in the lineup, chrome-ringed front air intakes, hood louvers, four tailpipes, and an understated “R” badge on the trunk lid.

2010 Jaguar XFR
2010 Jaguar XFR. Click image to enlarge

The interior is lovely, and while the controls have some gimmicks – which I also wouldn’t want to have to repair out of warranty – they certainly make this car feel special. The first is an engine start/stop button that flashes red, with a pattern like a heartbeat, when you get into the car. Start it up, and the covers on the dash vents slowly roll down; they’ll close up again for a smooth, unbroken effect when the engine shuts off, or if the climate control system is disengaged.

Simultaneously, the gearshift selector rises up out of the centre console, right into your palm if your finger’s still by the starter button. It’s a dial, and turning it selects each gear. When the six-speed transmission’s in regular Drive mode, blipping the steering wheel-mounted paddles temporarily shifts it manually up or down, and then returns to full automatic mode. Turn the dial to Sport, and the driver’s in control of the shifts – at least, until the computers determine that the revs are either way too low or too high, in which case it decides the correct cog.

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