The Truth About Cars » Jaguar http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:53:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Jaguar http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/jaguar/ Jaguar Land Rover Evaluating Locales For North American Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/jaguar-land-rover-evaluating-locales-north-american-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/jaguar-land-rover-evaluating-locales-north-american-plant/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934122 The United Auto Workers may soon need to add another transplant to convert as part of its Southern strategy: Jaguar Land Rover is considering setting up shop in the Southeastern United States as part of its global expansion plans. Autoblog reports the automaker is looking over potential real estate for a new North American factory, […]

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The United Auto Workers may soon need to add another transplant to convert as part of its Southern strategy: Jaguar Land Rover is considering setting up shop in the Southeastern United States as part of its global expansion plans.

Autoblog reports the automaker is looking over potential real estate for a new North American factory, honing in upon right-to-work states in the South such as South Carolina, where BMW already has a presence in Spartanburg assembling the X Series. The future plant would have a total capacity of 200,000 units produced per year.

Elsewhere, JLR welcomed all to its new factory in Changsu, China, where the real Evoque — as opposed to the “If you like Mrs. Beckham’s crossover, you’ll love ours” Landwind E32 — will roll off the line, with the new Discovery Sport to follow. Brazil will join the party with its own factory in 2016.

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McCullough: Diesel Evoque Under Consideration For US Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mccullough-diesel-evoque-consideration-us-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mccullough-diesel-evoque-consideration-us-market/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927682 Mrs. Beckham’s contribution to the automotive world, the Land Rover Evoque, may gain diesel power in the United States sometime soon. AutoGuide reports the plan to place a diesel engine under the bonnet of the crossover is “being considered,” according to Jaguar Land Rover North America marketing vice president Kim McCullough. At present, only the […]

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Mrs. Beckham’s contribution to the automotive world, the Land Rover Evoque, may gain diesel power in the United States sometime soon.

AutoGuide reports the plan to place a diesel engine under the bonnet of the crossover is “being considered,” according to Jaguar Land Rover North America marketing vice president Kim McCullough. At present, only the 2-liter EcoBoost powers the U.S. market model, as the 2.2-liter diesel sold elsewhere cannot meet emissions here.

JLR’s £500 million ($804 million USD) engine production plant will begin production early in 2015 of a 2-liter Ingenium diesel, which will first find a home in the U.S. under the bonnet of the new Jaguar XE. The Ingenium turbo-four gasoline engine will also likely replace the EcoBoost sometime in the future, though McCullough declined to confirm anything more.

As for the diesel Evoque, she believes greater acceptance of diesels overall in the U.S. market could help Land Rover navigate its way through increasing fuel-efficiency targets, with Ingenium diesels landing in U.S. market Jaguar and Land Rover models as the product cycle moves forward.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Jaguar F-Type V6S Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2014-jaguar-f-type-v6s-convertible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2014-jaguar-f-type-v6s-convertible/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=918066 I felt very conflicted following a quick nighttime Boston-to-New York City drive in this new Jag. It just did not meet my expectations. The car drove nice on the twisty and hilly Merritt Parkway but it was neither the sports car I desired, nor the grand tourer that the XKR was. Something was clearly wrong. […]

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I felt very conflicted following a quick nighttime Boston-to-New York City drive in this new Jag. It just did not meet my expectations. The car drove nice on the twisty and hilly Merritt Parkway but it was neither the sports car I desired, nor the grand tourer that the XKR was. Something was clearly wrong. Upon reaching my destination I carefully re-read Derek’s reviews and quickly realized that I am an idiot and that this F-Type has failed me in another way altogether.

2014 Jaguar F-type convertible top up top down

Like any proper modern sports car, the F-Type has a number of settings and adjustments available to its driver; suspension, transmission, steering, stability control, and even exhaust. I fiddled with the transmission and the exhaust because those settings were convenient, but I did not know that the others even existed. In my re-reading of Derek’s F-Type V6S review I came upon these words:

“Oh, and you absolutely must get the car with the “Configurable Dynamic Mode”, which adds another $3,000 to the base price, but effectively gives you two cars for the price of one.”

Son of a gun. My car had that option but I just dismissed it as a stability control setting that allows you to wag the rear-end like a pro, which I had no desire to do. Selecting it changes suspension, steering, transmission, and exhaust settings to ‘dynamic’. Like in many other sports cars, notably BMW’s M cars, this button transforms a smooth and quiet roadster that my mother would love, into a loud and quick sports car that I want. I am not exactly sure what the checkered flag button physically does, but all that a potential buyer needs to know is that it takes a vehicle that feels like an entry-level Mercedes SL and turns it into a Porsche Boxster.

2014 Jaguar F-type convertible dash

But I had another issue with this Jag, and here is where this Jag has clearly failed me. In his review, Derek was going on all about how every woman in the world loved this car and its driver. Reading deeper into his writing, women were literally throwing themselves at Derek just to be chauffeured around in the slick new roadster for a bit. The car has transformed him from being a humble but righteous autoscribe into a playboy that surpasses the likes of Lapo Elkann.

That did not happen to me. Not a single woman has expressed any interest what so ever in this car. I even made a point of dressing a little better when driving it and ensuring that my pricey mechanical timepiece was visible to all passer-bys. Not one woman even looked at me. Not even my wife. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Point. Zero. Now I’m no Jack Baruth, I got zero game, but c’mon, I did not even get a gander from the ladies.

2014 Jaguar F-type convertible exterior details 2

But the car did attract a lot attention, except that it was from every single balding middle-aged man in vicinity. They inquired about the British Racing Green paint and how it glistened in the sun. They needed to know the engine specs. One asked if it was a V12. They needed to hear it. I was tailgated by a young guy in a 3-series and challenged to a drag race by a Cayman owner. Even a homeless man yelled at me from across the sidewalk “how about five bucks for a bottle wine, stylin’ man!?” Five bucks!

I understand that attention as the F-Type is a gorgeous car. From bonnet to boot, there is not a wrong line on this car. There are however some questionable details and cost-cutting, such as the sculpted bolts on the rims of the wheels or plastic roll-bar covers which should really be aluminum. Open the huge front-hinged bonnet and you’ll see a plastic engine cover and not hand-polished aluminum velocity stacks. No complaints about the interior, other than outside visibility with the top up and the outdated infotainment system. The seats are adjustable in umpteen ways and wrapped in soft leather that has an intoxicating smell.  Only the British can do leather like this.

2014 Jaguar F-type convertible interior details

While fun in the corners and highway ramps, the ride is bouncy when the road gets bumpy. There was also surprisingly more wind noise with the top up than one would expect, and the Meridian audio system did not sound nearly as good as the one in the Range Rover. The best solution to those problems is lowering the top and pressing the active exhaust system button.

In alfresco cruising wind buffing is kept to a minimum, with only a slight breeze over the top of the driver’s head. The heater vents are positioned so that hot air blows directly over the 2/3 and 9/10 hand positions on the steering wheel, which itself is heated. The top setting for the heated seats is akin to sitting on hot lava rocks, which makes me believe this car could be fun with the top down over three seasons.

2014 Jaguar F-type convertible front left top

The 2015 Jaguar F-Type convertible starts at $69,000. The more powerful F-Type S, such as the one pictured here starts at $81,000. The test vehicle was splashed in $1500 British Racing Green paint, stanced with 20” $1500 Tornado wheels, outfitted with a $2000 Premium Pack 2, $2400 Vision Pack 2, $3400 Performance Package, heated seats and steering wheel for $600, Meridian audio for $1200, Ivory headliner (not made of real ivory) $500, HD and Sirius radio $450, and extended leather package for $1925. The total price of the test car, with delivery, came to $97,400. Those wanting more power can opt for the $92,000 F-Type V8 S. All trims are available in a coupe version for about $4000 less each. Additionally, the coupe is available in the even more powerful $99,000 550hp F-Type R trim.

Currently there are surprisingly many premium sports cars and roadsters on the market. Their abilities surpass those of supercars of only few years ago and are only limited by the driver’s skills, and even that is vastly supplemented by modern electronics. The question of which to buy is no longer answered by buff-book performance numbers, but rather by finding one that best matches your desires – there are no bad choices.

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Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. 

Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC provided the vehicle for this review.

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Potential Second-Gen Jaguar XF Caught Testing In The Wild http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/potential-second-gen-jaguar-xf-caught-testing-wild/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/potential-second-gen-jaguar-xf-caught-testing-wild/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 10:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916794 Now that Jaguar bestowed the XE upon the world, the automaker’s engineers and designers are turning toward updating the XF as the first generation draws closer to the end. Autoblog reports the second-gen XF will likely be based upon the same iQ A1 platform used for the XE, along with losing a few pounds and […]

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Now that Jaguar bestowed the XE upon the world, the automaker’s engineers and designers are turning toward updating the XF as the first generation draws closer to the end.

Autoblog reports the second-gen XF will likely be based upon the same iQ A1 platform used for the XE, along with losing a few pounds and gaining some new tech.

Under the bonnet, firepower will mostly remain the same, from four-pot diesels to supercharged V8, as well as the introduction of a PHEV variant. Rear- and all-wheel drive should still be around, as well as the choice between sedan and wagon.

Whatever happens, the new XF has some stiff competition waiting outside the assembly line, including the Audi A6, Infiniti Q70 and Volvo S90. Until that day, however, a few spy photos shall suffice.

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Study: Nine Brands Suffer Loyalty Issues Among Their Customers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/study-nine-brands-suffer-loyalty-issues-among-customers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/study-nine-brands-suffer-loyalty-issues-among-customers/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=896834 Honda, Ford and Toyota all have one thing in common as far as Kelley Blue Book knows: All three inspire brand loyalty among over half of its customer base. Alas, nine other brands wish they could be just as inspirational. In its study of KBB data from 33 brands regarding customer loyalty, 24/7 Wall St. […]

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2014 Scion tC Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Honda, Ford and Toyota all have one thing in common as far as Kelley Blue Book knows: All three inspire brand loyalty among over half of its customer base. Alas, nine other brands wish they could be just as inspirational.

In its study of KBB data from 33 brands regarding customer loyalty, 24/7 Wall St. says the following nine brands are likely to see their customers jump ship to another brand come trade-in or lease time:

  • Mitsubishi: 21.77 percent average
  • Chrysler: 22.72 percent average
  • Dodge: 22.88 percent average
  • Jaguar: 25.45 percent average
  • Scion: 25.79 percent average
  • Lincoln: 27.49 percent average
  • Infiniti: 28.25 percent average
  • Volvo: 29.41 percent average
  • Buick: 29.45 percent average

The study notes the brands with the highest loyalty averages also move the most units off the lot, while low-loyalty brands have sales to match; six of the nine listed sold less than 100,000 units during H1 2014.

As for what inspires loyalty in the first place, KBB senior manager of marketing intelligence Arthur Henry says price and reliability play the most important roles in whether a customer will stick with a brand. However, luxury makes like Jaguar, Infiniti and Buick suffer not from perceptions of poor reliability, but fierce competition from within the U.S. luxury market.

That said, Arthur notes customers can switch loyalties no matter how a brand is perceived, citing economic conditions and changing consumer preferences as factors in switching.

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US-Spec Jaguar F-Type Project 7 Unveiled At Pebble Beach http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/us-spec-jaguar-f-type-project-7-unveiled-pebble-beach/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/us-spec-jaguar-f-type-project-7-unveiled-pebble-beach/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 12:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=894002 Unveiled at this weekend’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the U.S.-spec Jaguar F-Type Project 7 will make its home in a few garages beginning next spring. Autoblog reports the limited edition roadster — developed by Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations — will leave showrooms in 2015 for a base price of $165,000. A tribute to […]

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Unveiled at this weekend’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the U.S.-spec Jaguar F-Type Project 7 will make its home in a few garages beginning next spring.

Autoblog reports the limited edition roadster — developed by Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations — will leave showrooms in 2015 for a base price of $165,000. A tribute to the D-Type, the Project 7 will have a 5-liter supercharged V8 delivering 575 horsepower to the back, pushing the cat to a limited peak of 186 mph with a nil-to-60 charge out of the gate in 3.8 seconds.

As for what color to paint your roadster, the Project 7 can be had in either Glacier White or Ultra Blue, with British Racing Green, Ultimate Black and Caldera Red as optional colors.

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Jaguar Lightweight E-Type Prototype To Bow At 2014 Pebble Beach Concours http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/jaguar-lightweight-e-type-prototype-bow-2014-pebble-beach-concours/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/jaguar-lightweight-e-type-prototype-bow-2014-pebble-beach-concours/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 10:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=889217 Should you find yourself at Pebble Beach this weekend for the golf course’s famed Concours d’Elegance, you’ll be able to gaze upon the prototype for Jaguar’s newest skunk works project, the Lightweight E-Type. Autoblog reports the prototype, known as “Car Zero,” will join Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations’ Pebble Beach lineup, posing for all the photos […]

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Should you find yourself at Pebble Beach this weekend for the golf course’s famed Concours d’Elegance, you’ll be able to gaze upon the prototype for Jaguar’s newest skunk works project, the Lightweight E-Type.

Autoblog reports the prototype, known as “Car Zero,” will join Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations’ Pebble Beach lineup, posing for all the photos alongside the Range Rover Sport SVR and F-Type Project 7 during the Concours’ opening reception August 14. Once its promotional activities and testing are complete, the prototype will become a permanent part of the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust’s collection.

As reported earlier, the final six Lightweight E-Types are picking up where the series left off in 1964, following the production of the 12th vehicle in the limited edition series. Each of the six will be built-to-order at JLR Special Operations’ Jaguar Heritage workshop, and all will be FIA-certified for historic racing.

The all-aluminum E-Type is driven to anger through a 3.8-liter I6 pushing 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque to the rear 15-inch wheels through a four-speed manual. Each owner will also be presented with a bespoke matching watch from the Bremont Watch Company, just so they can always know when tea (or tee) time is.

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Jaguar Reveals Face Of 2016 XE-S Ahead Of September Official Unveiling http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/jaguar-reveals-face-2016-xe-s-ahead-september-official-unveiling/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/jaguar-reveals-face-2016-xe-s-ahead-september-official-unveiling/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 11:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=876897 Behold the face of the 2016 Jaguar XE-S. Also: Scottish recording artist Emeli Sandé. Autoblog reports the sports sedan will be launched in early September through a sound + vision extravaganza called FEEL XE. Sandé will be kicking off the festivities in a secret location near the Thames, with influence from social media from now […]

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Behold the face of the 2016 Jaguar XE-S. Also: Scottish recording artist Emeli Sandé.

Autoblog reports the sports sedan will be launched in early September through a sound + vision extravaganza called FEEL XE. Sandé will be kicking off the festivities in a secret location near the Thames, with influence from social media from now until September 8 deciding the direction of the extravaganza. Fashion designer Stella McCartney and actor Idris Elba will also be a part of the promotion through separate projects.

As for the XE-S itself, it may possess under the bonnet either a turbocharged variant of the new Ingenium 2-liter four-cylinder engines, or the 3-liter supercharged V6 from the F-Type S. The XE range as a whole will feature aluminum throughout 75 percent of its architecture, and may be the most fuel-efficient Jaguar ever built to date once official numbers are revealed.

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Tata To Enter Global Passenger Market With Help Of Jaguar Land Rover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/tata-to-enter-global-passenger-market-with-help-of-jaguar-land-rover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/tata-to-enter-global-passenger-market-with-help-of-jaguar-land-rover/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871890 Having done well with Jaguar Land Rover in its portfolio, Tata Motors is now turning to its premium subsidiary for its own foray into passenger cars and SUVs. Drive.com.au reports the parent company is using the technical and design know-how JLR to begin growing its passenger vehicle line in Australia and beyond, though Darren Bowler, […]

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Having done well with Jaguar Land Rover in its portfolio, Tata Motors is now turning to its premium subsidiary for its own foray into passenger cars and SUVs.

Drive.com.au reports the parent company is using the technical and design know-how JLR to begin growing its passenger vehicle line in Australia and beyond, though Darren Bowler, managing director of importer Fusion Automotive, assures that no badge engineering would occur between the two brands.

What would be shared, according to Bowler, would be platforms and engines, such as the global platform underpinning the upcoming Nexon SUV that could “be used as an Evoque… a Tata, [or] a Jaguar,” as well as the Ingenium family of four-cylinder engines that will soon turn up under the bonnet of many a JLR product.

In the meantime, Tata Australia plans to tackle the medium- and heavy-duty markets with the Ultra and Prima, both joining the light-duty Xenon.

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Jaguar Land Rover Experiment With Augmented-Reality HUDs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/jaguar-land-rover-experiment-with-augmented-reality-huds/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/jaguar-land-rover-experiment-with-augmented-reality-huds/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 10:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863225 Jaguar Land Rover is bringing a duo of augmented-reality HUDs to its respective brands, each with a different take on the technology. Autoblog reports the Land Rover’s setup will have what they dub a Smart Assistant handling nearly every function and task so as to allow the driver to focus on driving to their destinations. […]

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Jaguar Land Rover is bringing a duo of augmented-reality HUDs to its respective brands, each with a different take on the technology.

Autoblog reports the Land Rover’s setup will have what they dub a Smart Assistant handling nearly every function and task so as to allow the driver to focus on driving to their destinations. The assistant connects with a driver’s smartphone to do everything from reminding you to drop off the children at school, to playing those morning jams Jalopnik likes to recommend. Meanwhile, the technology is also at work on-board, noting how many passengers are with the driver, knowing how the driver drives, even adjusting the air suspension to make exiting the vehicle easier.

Jaguar, on the other hand, is taking the video game approach with the Jaguar Virtual Windscreen, turning a day at the track into a scene from Forza or Gran Turismo. The race-oriented HUD offers lap times, virtual racing lines and ghost competitors among other data selections. There will also be gesture controls and configuration options, as well.

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Capsule Review: Jaguar F-Type – Base Is Best http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/capsule-review-jaguar-f-type-base-is-best/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/capsule-review-jaguar-f-type-base-is-best/#comments Mon, 02 Jun 2014 15:30:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=834465 How much power is enough? 300 horsepower? 400? 500? Let’s put it another way? How much is enough to impress people you don’t even like? The vehicle above is identical to the Jaguar F-Type V8S I drove: Sandfire Metallic, Dynamic Mode, cheesy gold-painted plastic paddles (ugh) and an exhaust note that sounds like a 1200cc […]

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How much power is enough? 300 horsepower? 400? 500? Let’s put it another way? How much is enough to impress people you don’t even like?

The vehicle above is identical to the Jaguar F-Type V8S I drove: Sandfire Metallic, Dynamic Mode, cheesy gold-painted plastic paddles (ugh) and an exhaust note that sounds like a 1200cc Harley with the mufflers cut off – with some added popping-and-farting noises programmed in for good measure.

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This is a car that impresses other people. It looks like a sports car, or even a junior exotic. It certainly sounds like one. As I recounted in my last review of the F-Type V6S, it is one automobile that really does make you more attractive to the opposite sex. It’s also the worst F-Type variant on the market.

Ok, the soundtrack is intoxicating – to a point. The only way you can enjoy that mechanical orchestra is to accelerate really quickly and then let off the gas, to decelerate to the point where you might get a hefty speeding ticket, but not a roadside impound. Forget flying under the radar (literally) –  it’s so bloody loud that every highway patrolman or concerned citizen within a 25 mile radius can hear what you’re doing. The Group B rally-car noises plumbed in to the V8 exhaust note is like spiking Chateauneuf-du-Pape with Grape Kool-Aid.

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While you’re doing busy making a scene, you are probably negotiating some bends, and the V8S, with its extra two-cylinders, supercharger and associated plumbing and massive wheels, feels substantially heavier than the other models. The difference coming out of the two cars is drastic, like you’ve just removed a rucksack full of dumbbells from its back…err, front.

The best comparison that can be made is between the various last-gen Mustangs. As you go from a Shelby GT500 to a V8 to a V6, you feel the nose get lighter and lighter progressively. Which shouldn’t matter on a less track-focused car that’s all about excitement and getting attention to make up for a lack of parental love. But it does, especially when you’re getting an indicated 11 mpg, while trying to use the F-Type’s quad pipes to recreate the sounds of the Battle of Britain.

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When it was time to return the V8S, I felt satisfied that I had been sufficiently validated by anonymous motorists and pedestrians. It was time for the V6S – or so I thought. Horror of horrors, it turned out that I was incorrect. It was a V6. The base V6. Oh, the indignity of having to drive a base model F-Type, with just 340 horsepower (rather than the 380 ponies of the V6S), a (slightly) quieter exhaust, and smaller wheels without faux-Brembo red calipers.

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Well, it turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. As good as the V6S I raved about last fall? No. But there would be no shame in driving one of these every day, because if nothing else, it’s more exciting than a base Boxster. For starters, the aforementioned front-end liposuction works wonders in everyday situations. The base F-Type actually feels nimble and easy to toss around, to say nothing of maneuvering through traffic. There’s still Dynamic Mode, the active exhaust and a Sport Mode for the transmission, which makes things a fair bit louder and a bit more raw, without sacrificing everyday comfort or drawing the ire of your neighbors when coming home late at night.

Despite being down 40 horsepower compared to the V6S, the base car is still reasonably quick, but adds another level of engagement to the experience. You have to work the car a bit harder to access the still-plentiful power reserves, and in the real word, that’s often more rewarding – meanwhile, fuel economy was an observed 23 mpg, or about double what I recorded during the V8S’ totally unscientific acceleration/efficiency testing. At a base price of $69,000, it’s also about $23,000 less than the V8S.

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Ask yourself, can you live with an extra $23,000, while also having to tell people that yes, the V6 models are actually the superior choice? I tried, and my explanations about less weight over the nose, a more exotic soundtrack (the V8 sounds like a cross between a Spitfire aircraft and a Pontiac GTO – the V6 sounds like a cross between a Lancia Stratos and Hendrix’s version of Voodoo Chile ) and, worst of all, less horsepower

Personally, I gave up, exasperated, but I didn’t care. A lot of people do. They have to be able to tell people that they bought the best, the most powerful, the most expensive, even if its capabilities are so beyond them, it would be like giving a .500 S&W Magnum to somebody who doesn’t know how to fire a .38. It’s all that most F-Type buyers really need, but when does logic ever pop into the sports car purchase decision?

I know this because I’m the kind of person that felt exactly the same way about the V6 Mustang – it’s more nimble and agile, it’s got plenty of power and it’s the better choice for most daily driving situations. But I’m vain, and I’d never buy a V6 Mustang because then, you won’t be impressing strangers and people you don’t actually like. But I’m human, and prone to inconsistencies bordering on the hypocritical. And with the F-Type, I’m making a deviation from my usual logic.

I wish I could close out the article by saying that my girlfriend agrees that the V6 is her choice too, but she just dumped me.  All I can think about is how even though the Porsche Boxster is a sharper machine, I’d really like to go for a drive in the F-Type right now. Given the chance, I would take the V6, not the V8, to help me clear my head and get over the fact that my passenger seat is going to be empty for the next little while.

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Jaguar Will Finish Lightweight E-Type Project 50 Years After It Began http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/jaguar-will-finish-lightweight-e-type-project-50-years-after-it-began/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/jaguar-will-finish-lightweight-e-type-project-50-years-after-it-began/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 11:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=821330 Those with enough money their pockets and desire a new Jaguar E-Type could opt for the restomod offerings from Eagle, and would likely be happy with what they receive. However, an exclusive few may manage to snag a new E-Type directly from Jaguar as soon as this summer, when the automaker finishes the final six […]

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Those with enough money their pockets and desire a new Jaguar E-Type could opt for the restomod offerings from Eagle, and would likely be happy with what they receive. However, an exclusive few may manage to snag a new E-Type directly from Jaguar as soon as this summer, when the automaker finishes the final six of 18 Lightweight E-Types after a five-decade pause in production.

Autoblog reports the program — begun in 1963 — will pick up where it left off in 1964, when the last of the first 12 of the all-aluminium cars rolled out of the factory. At the time, the remaining sextet of E-Types had chassis numbers ready to go, only for life to take Jaguar elsewhere.

With the numbers found, however, the automaker will at last build the missing cars. The work will occur in-house, with its craftsman hand-building each one to the exact specs as the original 12, all of them powered by an aluminium 3.8-liter I6. The cars will weigh 250 pounds less than the standard E-Type.

As for when and where the first Lightweight will roll off the line, Jaguar says the car could arrive sometime this summer, though “established Jaguar collectors, expecially those with historic race car interests,” will have first dibs on the six vehicles. No price has been stated thus far.

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Drive Slow, Homie http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/drive-slow-homie/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/drive-slow-homie/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 11:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=789233   A good friend of mine has a bit of wisdom that I try to follow whenever possible: “Say yes to everything.” It’s easy to misconstrue this as encouragement to engage in promiscuous behavior, ingestion of narcotics and other activities that are indicative of poor future-time orientation. Instead, it’s an exhortation to open oneself up […]

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A good friend of mine has a bit of wisdom that I try to follow whenever possible: “Say yes to everything.” It’s easy to misconstrue this as encouragement to engage in promiscuous behavior, ingestion of narcotics and other activities that are indicative of poor future-time orientation. Instead, it’s an exhortation to open oneself up to experiences and opportunities, without regard for the kind of details that the more neurotic among us might obsess over.

I kept this in mind when I got a call from a local fleet manager not long ago. His offer was simple: drive a brand new Jaguar XKR for a week. As always, there were conditions attached.

1) This was, literally, a brand new car. When I picked up the keys, it had roughly 50 miles on it.

2) I had to help with the “break-in”, which meant driving it fairly long distances, and with extra care in mind. Gentle acceleration was fine. Mashing the throttle and lighting up the rears in an effort to recreate the audible signature of a Spitfire (aircraft, not roadster) was not.

3) The last of the winter weather had yet to recede. Temperatures were still in the mid to high thirties, sporadic flurries had not yet given way to spring showers, and the car was wearing a set of fat Pirelli P Zeros.

Did I mention the 510 horsepower supercharged 5.0L V8?

Challenge accepted.

The XK has been out since the 2006 model year, and it’s only just starting to look dated right now – especially inside. As Alex Dykes noted in prior reviews, the steering wheel looks like something you would have found in a Hertz Prestige Collection car a decade ago. The most bit of evidence in our exercise in dendrochronology is the in-dash touch screen. Even though it dates back to 2006, it looks and feels more like Windows 95, though it works well enough.

To jaded enthusiasts already charmed by the Sloan Ranger flash of the F-Type, the XK might look a little stale. To everyone else, you’re driving the only supercar that doesn’t cause a reflexive feeling of hostility. Pedestrians stop and stare, little children point and, crucially, other motorists will let you in when attempting to change lanes or make left turns. You will frequently get this car confused for an Aston Martin, at which point, you have to inform them of one major difference: this thing is actually good to drive.

My lone experience with Aston Martin proved to be a real letdown. The V8 Vantage was a victim of an immense, Clarkson-driven jingoistic hype machine. Well, that’s not entirely true. The V8 Vantage was fairly well-reviewed, mostly by journalists who were angling to get back on another Aston Martin junket. Since I drove a privately owned car and my self-worth isn’t based on what junkets I get invited to, I can let you in on a secret.

The V8 Vantage was barely quicker than a 4.6L Mustang from the same era, and arguably less satisfying to drive. Not a whole lot has changed in the interim. Save yourself the $20,000 (likely more, once options are added) and buy this. It’s a bit quieter, a bit less impressive to the bystanders that you imagine are staring at you admiringly, but it’s better in the real world.

At typical speeds, this is an extremely comfortable car. Even with the comically large 20″ wheels and 20-Series tires, the ride over Toronto’s pothole-and-frost-ridden roads is superb. Somehow, the ride remains composed without ever feeling soft. Impacts are absorbed, but don’t seem to unsettle the car or make their way through the cowl like some oversprung sporty cars do. At all speeds, the car is quiet – too quiet even. With the windows up, the muted burble of the blown eight is no louder than say, the Hyundai Genesis V8 I recently tested. That’s not a good thing, even for a car that is rightfully considered a Grand Tourer.

Pick up the pace a little, and the XKR responds in a far more athletic manner than any GT has a right to do. With it’s all-aluminum structure, the car feels far lighter on its feet than a BMW M6, though in reality, it’s still just a hair under 4000 lbs, and 250 lbs lighter than the Bimmer. The steering is still hydraulic, but doesn’t have an abundance of feel or feedback. Any confidence inspired by the car is thanks to its composed chassis, which is largely absent of body roll or unwanted motions and the enormous, sticky Pirellis. It might not be the most communicative car on the road, but the XKR is very capable at making its way through turns at far higher velocities than what’s considered socially or legally acceptable.

Where the Jaguar really excels is as a high-speed, long-distance cruiser. By nature of its design, the rearward visibility makes rapidly changing lanes a bit of a challenger, with a rather small aperture that can be viewed by the rear-view mirror. On the plus side, the cushy seats, utter absence of NVH and the superb stereo make the XKR as comfortable as sitting in your favorite armchair, with a subdued NASCAR soundtrack looping in the background – not that you’d ever do something so declasse.

Being forced to drive this car at an artificially gentle pace made me appreciate that the exalted sports cars in our hobby – the Elises, Miatas the E30 M3s and Toyobarus – are fantastic cars when the conditions are perfect and the roads are properly paved and there’s not much else going on in your life to prevent you from unplugging your life and driving for a couple hundred miles to your favorite road.

That scenario is like a first date that stretches into the next morning: often discussed, rarely realized and necessitating unplanned food and bathroom visits, the latter of which can be rather awkward. For every other situation, cars like this are underappreciated. They let you crawl in traffic, take calls via Bluetooth and get you where you need to go without turning you into a sweaty, oily mess with rumpled clothes and a well-worn AAA card. There’s a reason why our EIC is so enthusiastic about his Honda Accord V6 6MT. The drive wheels might be swapped and the cylinder count might be down, but both cars fulfill the same purpose.

By the end of my time with the XKR, I had racked up nearly 1000 miles, and felt confident that I had treated the car with sufficient care that something that pushed the limits of my instructions could be done without causing excess mechanical harm. I knew from driving XKRs in the past that engaging Dynamic Mode and stepping on the accelerator from a dead stop would produce a launch like a pre-facelift Shelby GT500, with a bucking back end, a flickering traction control light and a demonic wail from the supercharged V8.

I found myself on an abandoned road in an industrial park. I was glad I said “yes”.
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Geneva 2014: Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/geneva-2014-jaguar-xfr-s-sportbrake/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/geneva-2014-jaguar-xfr-s-sportbrake/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 16:22:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=765393   550 horsepower supercharged V8 in a British wrapper coated in French Blue paint. A bit confusing? Not really – it’s a CTS-V Wagon for those under the jurisdiction of the EU Parliament.

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550 horsepower supercharged V8 in a British wrapper coated in French Blue paint. A bit confusing? Not really – it’s a CTS-V Wagon for those under the jurisdiction of the EU Parliament.

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New Jaguar Land Rover Factory in Brazil to Open in 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/new-jaguar-land-rover-factory-in-brazil-to-open-in-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/new-jaguar-land-rover-factory-in-brazil-to-open-in-2016/#comments Wed, 11 Dec 2013 11:30:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=677250 If you live in Brazil and are pining away for a Jaguar or Land Rover, Tata Motors will open a factory for the luxury marques in time for the 2016 Summer Olympics. The new factory, slated to produce 24,000 units annually at the beginning, is set to begin construction in Itatiaia sometime next year. The […]

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2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

If you live in Brazil and are pining away for a Jaguar or Land Rover, Tata Motors will open a factory for the luxury marques in time for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

The new factory, slated to produce 24,000 units annually at the beginning, is set to begin construction in Itatiaia sometime next year. The two luxury brands already hold 53 percent of the luxury SUV market in Brazil, with a goal to sell 10,000 units in 2014; 9,549 Evoques, Freelanders, Discoverys et al have left the showroom through October 2013.

Tata will use the new factory to meet local demand before considering export markets nearby, and is considered to be a major step in their overall global manufacturing strategy.

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UR-Turn: Tesla Model S vs. Jaguar XF http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/ur-turn-tesla-model-s-vs-jaguar-xf/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/ur-turn-tesla-model-s-vs-jaguar-xf/#comments Tue, 12 Nov 2013 11:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=647642 A colleague and friend of mine just bought himself a Tesla Model S (the fast P85 edition). I’d been wanting to find a suitable car to compare it against, so I approached a major European car vendor’s media relations people, asking for a loaner so I could do a head-to-head comparison. The response: “Unfortunately, Mr. […]

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A colleague and friend of mine just bought himself a Tesla Model S (the fast P85 edition). I’d been wanting to find a suitable car to compare it against, so I approached a major European car vendor’s media relations people, asking for a loaner so I could do a head-to-head comparison.

The response: “Unfortunately, Mr. Large And In Charge [not his actual name] isn’t interested in a comparison against the Tesla, Dan.” Knowing I’d never have the pull of Top Gear to get the gear I wanted in hand, I resolved that I’d do it some other way.

Recently, I received a card in the mail, inviting me to a Jaguar ALIVE Driving Experience. I’ve been to things like this before. They feed you mini-muffins, they let you tear around a mini-autocross track, you leave with a baseball cap, a mini-grin on your face, and mini-spam in your email box for months to come. I decided to invite my Tesla buddy along and see if I could get an expensive Jag in one side of my brain and compare it to the expensive Tesla in the other side of my brain. Here’s what happened.

First, let’s just look at them side by side, shall we? From the front, the Jaguar XF and the Tesla Model S have distinct personalities. The Tesla’s oval mouth probably has more in common with a Maserati Quattroporte, but the headlights have comparable anger to them. Both of these cars are snarling at you to get out of the way. Here’s a rear view.

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The resemblance is clear. The Tesla’s hatchback and the Jaguar’s trunk are cut from the same cloth. You can see how much wider the Tesla’s hatch is, though, making it much easier to get big stuff in and out. What about the mirrors? Our own Sajeev loves to obsess over the little triangle where the mirror joins up with the front window. Here we go.

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Tesla’s mirror is a bit more svelte, but there’s more than a passing resemblance. Now wait a minute, you might be complaining, how can you possible compare these two cars? The Jaguar XF starts around $50k with a two liter turbo four-cylinder and runs well north of $100k by the time you’ve got a firebreathing supercharged V8 installed. The cars are comparably sized, at least on the outside, although the Jag’s back seat is cramped, versus the entirely adult-compatible Tesla. Both vendors are clearly going after the same buyers.

Jaguar notably didn’t bring along the two liter. I sadly only got to drive the insane supercharged V8 for exactly one lap. (Summary: it’s got huge gobs of power and lots of electronic nannies to keep you alive. Since they required us to drive with the nannies on, all I can say is that it was holding back my flooring-it throttle inputs until it felt it safe, and it was readily applying its massive brakes even when I thought it didn’t need to.) Since that’s the car they’re using to show off the line, and it’s priced roughly the same as the P85 Tesla Model S (yadda yadda government subsidies vs. gas guzzler taxes, yadda yadda), the comparison seems fair game to me.

The Jaguar’s interior is pretty much what you’d expect at this price point from a conventional car. It’s got nice fitted leather seats with contrasting stitching and that fantastic new car smell. It’s got a touch screen (deep, sometimes confusing menus), voice recognition (not terribly useful), and a bunch of buttons. The Tesla has their unlike-anything-else spartan interior. I’m including a photo here of the nav screen with direct sunlight on it. It’s bright enough that it’s still entirely usable. Anybody who knows their way around a modern smartphone will have no trouble operating the Tesla. This is the future.

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What about a performance comparison? Handling! Acceleration! Growling exhaust! I didn’t have anything even vaguely resembling the opportunity to do an apples-to-apples comparison. Suffice to say that the P85 Tesla’s acceleration is instantaneous and violent. And silent. On paper it’s faster than the über Jaguar and my butt dyno and I totally believe it.

Instead of that, I’ll offer a more direct comparison of the sort that automotive journalists usually ignore: sound-system quality. My buddy’s Tesla has their uprated stereo system. I asked the Jaguar folks if I could get some quality time with their sound system and they happily left me alone in an optioned-up XJR. I paired my phone, via Bluetooth, and cranked my favorite test tunes through the Jaguar’s Meridian sound system and later ran the same exact tunes through the Tesla.

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If you’re the sort of person who reads audiophile reviews, you’ll know they come in two varieties: “meaningless adjectives alongside descriptions of the reviewer’s favorite tunes” or “soulless test measurements”. Since I didn’t exactly have serious test gear in hand, nor do I wish to bombard you with meaningless adjectives (“a light, airy sound with a tight thunderous bass”), I’ll say that I used one classical orchestral piece, one late 1950’s jazz studio recording with Ella on vocals, and two bits of carefully chosen 90’s techno that will drive any subwoofer to submission.

In a nutshell, the Jaguar’s sound system was perfectly fine on the orchestral piece (lots of dynamic range, etc.), was a bit muddy with the famous female jazz singer, and the techno revealed the dreaded one-note-bass-thud-thud-thud, of the sort that you’d expect from somebody’s riced out Honda Civic. The Tesla was similarly fine on the classical piece, was slightly better on the jazz (something a bit off in the upper treble of Ella’s voice), and was 95% there on the techno, with different bass notes sounding notably different. (In my previous Tesla Model S encounter, that car didn’t have the uprated stereo. I played the same tunes there, and they were noticeably worse. If you want to listen to anything more demanding than talk radio in your Tesla, pony up for the good sound system. And somebody please invite Tony Stark Elon Musk to listen to a good pair of ribbon speakers so he knows what to shoot for.)

Before I go, I’ll offer a couple quick words on the other Jaguars. The XK is still the best looking Jaguar out there. Below is a tricked out XKR-S, with matching contrasting stitching. Oh, and the driver’s seat is set perfectly for me (5’10”). Those ain’t back seats. They’re parcel shelves.

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They also let us drive the new F-Type, in supercharged V6 and supercharged V8 form. This car is every bit the hoontastic screamer as the XK, and for a slightly less outrageous price. The only thing you’re giving up is the rear parcel shelf seat. However, I’ll draw your attention to the gear selector (photo below). This is guaranteed to be misunderstood by the first valet you give the keys to, who will promptly back your car up into traffic and destroy the poor thing. You see, to put it in “park”, you press the “P” button on the top of the stick. If you just move the stick up, like every other automatic ever made, that’s just “reverse”. (Pro-tip: buy a manual transmission. Oh wait, you can’t.)

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And, last but not least, when I first saw the XFR-S in its “French Racing Blue” (vraiment?), the comparison that sprang to mind was the dearly departed Pontiac G8. Is it just me?

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2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe to Debut at LA Auto Show http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/2015-jaguar-f-type-coupe-to-debut-at-la-auto-show/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/2015-jaguar-f-type-coupe-to-debut-at-la-auto-show/#comments Wed, 06 Nov 2013 14:11:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=643570 For those of us who love the Jaguar’s F-Type’s zazz but would prefer to keep the wind out of our hair (along with the rain, sleet and snow) on a more permanent basis, Jaguar now has an option for you. The hardtop iteration of the British-Indian automaker’s halo car will make its global debut in […]

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F Type Coupe

For those of us who love the Jaguar’s F-Type’s zazz but would prefer to keep the wind out of our hair (along with the rain, sleet and snow) on a more permanent basis, Jaguar now has an option for you.

The hardtop iteration of the British-Indian automaker’s halo car will make its global debut in Los Angeles November 19 at an exclusive party for VIP customers and media types prior to taking the floor at the LA Auto Show a day later.

Though little is known about what’s under the bonnet or the glass roof panels, the all-aluminium cat most likely won’t have the C-X16’s KERS-inspired hybrid drivetrain. Rumors are abundant that a manual gearbox will debut along with the coupe. The coupe will debut in showrooms across the United States in the spring of 2014.

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The Jaguar F-Type vs. Some Tunnels http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/the-jaguar-f-type-vs-some-tunnels/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/the-jaguar-f-type-vs-some-tunnels/#comments Mon, 04 Nov 2013 14:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=638505 Six days a week, Monday through Saturday, I get up at 4:45 am – five o’clock and I’m plonked in front of the keyboard, staring at the blinking cursor of my computer screen, fuelled by caffeine and ready to start shovelling words into its gaping maw. Six days a week, but on the seventh day […]

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Six days a week, Monday through Saturday, I get up at 4:45 am – five o’clock and I’m plonked in front of the keyboard, staring at the blinking cursor of my computer screen, fuelled by caffeine and ready to start shovelling words into its gaping maw. Six days a week, but on the seventh day I sleep in.

Sunday, a day for rest. But this day, I rise at my usual time to drive a hundred and fifty miles through the blackness and the pouring rain.

As I move east, the traffic thins. The gaps between spray-flinging semi-trailers increase. Where the highway splits, in the little town of Hope, I take the route that heads North, and find myself alone on the road in the purring Jaguar. The FM radio begins losing reception and I turn it off. The concentrated showers fade, replaced by heavy, clinging mist.

Buttoned-up, the F-type pads its way through the still-sleeping town of Yale, a light or two on here and there, but no-one stirring. The road snakes up out of town, the speed limit climbs back up – and there it is, first of seven. I pull the car over, stop, put the top down.

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Hell of a car, this thing, all sharp angles and compact muscle. This is the light version too, the supercharged-six rather than the blown-eight, but its 380hp is plenty of punch for the street, and with everything softened-up and battened-down for the bad weather, it’s been a great highway cruiser. I’m not here to cruise though: toggle flicked to dynamic, shifter snapped to the left, a pull on the rubbery paddle shifter to lock the eight-speed in manual mode.

Ready…

Aim…

I’ve always loved tunnels, even as a kid. Driving through them at night, you’d suddenly be transported into a world of flickering sodium-lamp orange, the car dropping into warp-space as you peered out the back seat window. In the daytime, the radio would spit, sputter, and fade to static as you passed from here to there, wherever there might be, ahead, a brightness in the shape of a D lying on its back.

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Fire.

Baffles fully opened, the little Jag skitters forward with a nasty cough of aggression that rises to a yowl of fury. The tiled sides of the tunnel bounce the waves right back in a crescendoing shock-wave – second-to-third with a snap and a snarl and the briefest shift of the F-Type’s hips on the rain-slicked surface.

The strip-lighting blurs, the cacophonous bellowing playing castanets with my inner ear, the plates of my skull starting to approach valve float – and then we’re through, through into the purple-black early morning and the stillness of the surrounding mountains. I come off the throttle immediately into a Sten-gun chorus of backfires – with this engine, the Jag isn’t insanely fast or anything, but abandoned though it may be at this early hour, this is still a public road.

And anyway, what’s the hurry? That was just the first of seven.

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This is the Fraser Canyon’s gem, not quite a secret, but an oddity I’d forgotten about. The road itself is a joy, not the knotted crest-and-dip roller-coaster of a California canyon road, but winding and undulating and – best of all – almost completely deserted. That’s not what got me out of bed though.

There are seven tunnels here, in the short space of just twenty-five miles. The longest, the China Bar Tunnel, is up at the North end of the run, a 2000-foot flourish for my impromptu symphony of fire. This first borehole was a straight-shot, a musket-barrel to fling the car out like a projectile chased by an eruption of violence, but the others are a variety of shapes and sizes like over-boiled macaroni noodles stuck in the bottom of the pot.

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In between them, the Jaguar’s cockpit is wind-whipped and damp, more so than a Boxster’s would be. The copper-coloured shifters feel a bit cheap, and this 8-speed automatic is no eye-blink dual-clutch. Plus it’s a maybe a little bit too expensive, and the wisdom of buying a first-year British car is highly suspect. I had at least one serious issue with it in my week (gearshift locked in park – self-resolved after sitting for an hour or so), and you just know the ownership cycle’s going to be full of major/minor irritations.

But oh, how she howls. Luxury and polish is all very fine, but occasionally I can’t help but fall entirely for a car that utters a barbaric yawp every time you prod the loud pedal. Juvenile, I know, but it’s what makes me love the Boss 302, the 500 Abarth, the GLI, even my own crappy Subaru.

The 8-speed lets you hold a gear right up to and past the red-line – want to charge stupidly into the rev-limiter? Go ahead. The rasp and crackle of lift-off backfire fills the China Bar’s hollow tube, and then it’s stab at the throttle again and cranking it up to 11, innit? What a moron I am. What a happy moron.

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We’ll miss this sort of thing in the electric future. The Model S has its own ffffwwweeeee of happy electrons fizzing away under hard acceleration, but its not quite the same thing sometimes. Sometimes the automobile is a source of pride of ownership. Sometimes it’s sensible and clean transportation. Sometimes it’s even a musical instrument, of sorts.

But sometimes it’s just a place to crank the distortion and hamfist your way through a tunnel playing three raucous chords. Three chords and the truth.

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Capsule Review: Jaguar F-Type V6S http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/capsule-review-jaguar-f-type-v6s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/capsule-review-jaguar-f-type-v6s/#comments Mon, 07 Oct 2013 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=598353 As a teenager reading “Death in Venice,” I understood the world to be divided between the Aschenbachs and the Tadzios. There are those who gaze, and those who are gazed upon. – David Rakoff I, as Rakoff would put it, am not a handsome man, though my mother would disagree. If I were to be […]

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As a teenager reading “Death in Venice,” I understood the world to be divided between the Aschenbachs and the Tadzios. There are those who gaze, and those who are gazed upon. – David Rakoff

I, as Rakoff would put it, am not a handsome man, though my mother would disagree. If I were to be cast in a James Bond movie, I would probably play the villain. Past lovers have often commented on my intelligence, my charm and my high earning potential as an automotive journalist, but rarely if ever on my physical appearance. I’m at peace with this, for I have discovered that the one automobile that can “increase sexual arousal, particularly in women” is not the Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible, as P.J. O’Rourke would contend, but a Jaguar convertible.

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My first realization of the aphrodisiac qualities of the Jaguar convertible was not in the F-Type, but with its older sibling, the XKR.  An affable but outdated grand tourer, the XKR was borrowed for competitive analysis against the F-Type, which consisted of numerous acceleration tests to confirm the potency of its 510 horsepower supercharged V8 (potent, indeed) as well as the efficacy of the large monobloc brake calipers to help reduce speed in the presence of local law enforcement (also excellent). The XKR’s major failing would be the uselessness of its backseat. Even the rather diminutive Jackie, who scarcely protested while sitting in the rear seat of a hardtop Shelby GT500, was forced to sit with her legs across the back seat, akin to how an XKR owner who lay his golf clubs across the rear bucket seats.

Shortly after Jackie departed, my friend Kyle and I entered ourselves in the Yorkville Grand Prix, named in honor of the tony downtown district that functions as an informal home to Toronto’s supercars. There are no winners, but entrants are required to drive in either first or second gear under significant load, while spectators jeer the participants sotto voce. As I completed lap number 3, I was taken aback by a rare phenomeon. A gorgeous young girl, barely older than 20, crossing the street as I sat waiting at a red light. As she strutted past me, her skintight white pants and skimpy halter top were only secondary considerations. She was making eye contact with me!

“There’s a nice Jewish girl for you,” remarked Kyle.

The best I could do was to flash a meek smile, more forced than the ones I pulled on antecedent elementary school picture days. To my surprise, she smiled back and blushed a little. I reflexively  drove off when the light turned green, not even thinking about trying to engage her in any way. I decided to turn back and try and find her, but it was in vain. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get to enjoy that feeling again,” I lamented, as the XKR roared down University Avenue. It turns out I was wrong.

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If you want to be the center of attention, especially among nubile women, do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not remember the XKR even exists. You want an F-Type, perhaps in Polaris White as shown above. Italian Racing Red is certainly striking but will invite too many snide quips about inadequate genitals to be beneficial. You will get so many stares from attractive women of all ages that you will begin to feel the kind of contempt for them generally known to deeply damaged people who spurn romantic advances because they feel unlovable. Oh, and you absolutely must get the car with the “Configurable Dynamic Mode”, which adds another $3,000 to the base price, but effectively gives you two cars for the price of one.

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With Dynamic Mode off, the F-Type is all show but feels like it has a lot less go. The 380 horsepower V6 is still there, but throttle response is muted, the exhaust produces a rather banal hum akin to a Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 and the steering feels a bit like the current Mazda MX-5, with lots of response but not as much feel. But it’s also not a supple grand tourer like the XKR. One would be forgiven for thinking of it as a halfway sports car for the chest-hair-and-Hublot-watch crowd.

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But with Dynamic Mode toggled to the on position, the F-Type stops being a fashion accessory. It’s difficult to think of a car that can change its character so completely with one simple action, but the transformation is remarkable. Suddenly, the V6 has found its lungs, emitting a demonic snarl that sounds more exotic than Ferrari’s most recent V8s, with all the popping and backfiring that any attention-seeker could want. The numbed throttle and steering are suddenly crisp and responsive, while the chassis becomes even more taut.If you listen closely, you can hear the faintest bit of supercharger whine, something that, in my opinion, should be more present on a car like this. Slot the 8-speed transmission into “S” and the shifts are executed with an alarming brutality, akin to the very first Lexus IS-F. You feel each gear change through your spine as the car hurtles you forward. Industry scuttlebutt claims that a manual may show up alongside a coupe version. They can keep it. Even without a clutch pedal and a gearshift, it will make your facial muscles hurt from grinning so much.

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Back on planet earth, the car is affable in everyday situations. On longer highway drives, the revs are kept below 2000 rpm thanks to the 8-speed transmission. There is a slight hint of wind noise right where the convertible top meets the A-pillar, but generally, road noise is dependent on whether the active exhaust is open or not. There are flaws too. The stop-start is a little ridiculous on a car like this. When the top is up, blind spots are massive, as one would expect with a convertible. The trunk is unable to hold even one golf bag, which will apparently put off some potential buyers.

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And so will the fact that, according to reputable sources, this car is not quite the dynamic proposition that a Porsche Boxster or 911 is on the Race tack. Frankly, I couldn’t care less, and I’m sure plenty of customers don’t either, though they won’t have the bragging rights of a Nuburgring time or some other meaningless performance benchmark. Today’s Porsche sports cars, dynamically competent as they are, don’t make you feel this special. Then again, I’m not sure any car feels this special. If you want to win an HPDE event, then a P-Car is your only choice. If you want to feel like an equine-endowed billionaire Formula 1 champion petroleum tycoon international playboy film star every single day of your life until the warranty runs out, this is your only option. At $84,000, it will make you better looking too, without you ever having to go under the knife.

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Capsule Review: Jaguar XJ 3.0 AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/capsule-review-jaguar-xj-3-0-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/capsule-review-jaguar-xj-3-0-awd/#comments Fri, 24 May 2013 13:22:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=489321 It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which of the Jaguar Land Rover partnership is the breadwinner. People cannot get enough Evoques, LR4s and Range Rovers, even though the competition can do pretty much everything else in a more competent fashion, for less money. But at least Land Rover stands for something. Never mind the […]

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It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which of the Jaguar Land Rover partnership is the breadwinner. People cannot get enough Evoques, LR4s and Range Rovers, even though the competition can do pretty much everything else in a more competent fashion, for less money. But at least Land Rover stands for something.

Never mind the snide remarks about the Kardashians and McMasions in my prior piece. Land Rovers have fought in wars, kept the peace, carted around countless dignitaries and monarchs and been to the kind of places that require vaccinations before you depart. And people remember that.

What about Jaguar? How many people still remember them for the E-Type versus their history of questionable reliability? I’d place my money on the latter being the brand’s defining characteristic that doesn’t have to do with their country of origin. Watching the XJ make an appearance in the latest James Bond movie, I was struck by how appropriate it was for M to be chauffeured in a dark colored XJ (note to Jaguar: get Bond in an F-Type next time around), but I doubt many people shared my sentiments. That’s a shame because there is a fair amount of history linked with the XJ and the various institutions of the United Kingdom as there is with Land Rover. Think of Margaret Thatcher leaving number 10 Downing Street after being ousted by her own party or Tony Blair arriving at Princess Diana’s funeral if you need examples.

The current shape XJ (now employed by David Cameron) was an enormously polarizing design when it debuted in 2009, and a good part of that sentiment had to do with the fact that the XJs had undergone mild, 911-style evolution in the preceding decades, during which they were the ride of choice for all manner of British VIPs. The 2005 redesign that introduced an all-new aluminum construction was barely distinguishable from the generation before that. Meanwhile, BMW had introduced the Bangle-look 7-Series and Audi’s A8 was starting to get some traction among luxury buyers. Sales were unsurprisingly dismal, and the radical change in design was deemed necessary.

Personally, I love the look, even if its more French than British. To me, it recalls the profile of the Citroen C6, with the quirky French styling cues replaced by a masculine, squared-off stance. Unlike the supercharged V8 versions, this one doesn’t have absurdly sized shiny rims, but the design doesn’t suffer for it the way that some cars, like Bangle BMWs and current Audis, look a bit wonky when devoid of big dubs.

The big news for the XJ this year is the addition of all-wheel drive and a new supercharged 3.0 V6 engine. The two drivetrain options come bundled together, as a response to the twin desires of more modest fuel consumption and improved winter-weather traction. Since it was 25 degrees and sunny for most of the week, I didn’t get a chance to try out the all-wheel drive system.

Alex Dykes last clocked a blown V8 Supersport at 4.3 seconds to 60 mph, and based on my own impressions of that car, I’d concur. It is a seriously fast set of wheels. Not having the capability to do instrumented testing, I will have to take Jaguar’s estimate of 6.1 seconds for the V6 car at face value – but I’d never complain that the V6 felt slow. The reluctance of the 8-speed automatic to downshift upon applying the throttle was noticeable, but once the transmission complied, there was no shortage of power available. Fuel economy in mixed driving was roughly 23 miles per gallon – not much better than the 21.5 mpg Alex managed with his Supersport, but I suppose some of the blame – and the appeal of the 3.0 – could be pinned on the AWD system.

Thanks to its aluminum construction, the XJ feels light on its feet. The chassis is a credit to JLR’s engineers, which managed to strike a balance between providing engaging handling while isolating the car’s occupants from the road surfaces, especially poor ones. The lack of big rims and low profile tires also play a part in delivering such good ride quality.

The one blight on this car is the Start-Stop feature, which was far from unobtrusive. I don’t have any philosophical opposition to these systems, but myself and several other passengers noted that the system was rather abrupt in cutting power and re-starting the engine; certainly, it operated in a manner that was inconsistent with the overall supple, isolating nature of the car’s ride and NVH characteristics. Some of TTAC’s Europe-based commenters have been skeptical of the efficacy of these systems with respect to fuel economy, but North Americans have had little exposure to them. I expect many will elect to disable this system.

Although the somewhat clumsy infotainment system is shared with the Range Rover, the rest of the interior is all Jaguar. Gone is the black plastic and the aluminum looking trim, replaced by acres of wood and dead bovine hyde. Your eyes will forget about the rather lackluster digital gauge cluster and instead gravitate to the long, arcing section of wood that spans from A-pillar to A-pillar just above the dashboard. When these cars end up as one of Murilee’s Junkyard Finds, I will be going into the carcass of an XJ and extracting this piece to hang in my future garage.

While I criticized the Range Rover for not offering much above and beyond its rival aside from a great badge, there are plenty of compelling reasons to pick an XJ over its rivals. There is an argument to be made for the Audi A8 being a more precise drive, but I prefer the increased isolation and the wood-and-leather cabin of the XJ compared to the more austere Audi – or any of its rivals. Since I’m not overly concerned with tech features, the Jag’s superior road manners give it the edge over the 7-Series, S-Class or LS460 in my books. At an as-tested price of $86,000, it’s neither the cheapest or the priciest car in its class.

Jaguar hasn’t been associated with the “Grace, Pace and Space” mantra in some time, this car would be the perfect manifestation should they ever decide to use that as the brand’s messaging. There is no shortage of power, comfort or elegance, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s the most beautiful 4-door car on sale today. But judging by recent sales figures, more people are choosing the A8 –  at least the addition of all-wheel drive gives them one less excuse for ruling out the XJ.

 

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2013 Jaguar F-Type Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/2013-jaguar-f-type-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/2013-jaguar-f-type-review/#comments Wed, 22 May 2013 14:46:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=484561 More than 50 years after the E-Type was launched, Jaguar has brought its successor, the F-Type to the market. You might wonder why such a long gap between both the cars. Well, the British automaker was developing the F-Type way back in the 1980s but the project was delayed time and again, finally being cancelled […]

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More than 50 years after the E-Type was launched, Jaguar has brought its successor, the F-Type to the market. You might wonder why such a long gap between both the cars. Well, the British automaker was developing the F-Type way back in the 1980s but the project was delayed time and again, finally being cancelled after Ford bought the company. In 2000, Jaguar showcased the F-Type concept but that too did not make it to production. Now the F-Type is finally on sale and is offered with an option of 3 engines, the base V6, mid level V6 S and top end V8 S. The F-Type is priced right between the Porsche Boxster and Porsche 911 Carrera, thereby sitting in no man’s land.

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The styling of the F-Type is gorgeous. While it may not be a design breakthrough like the E-Type, the exteriors are very attractive and draw a lot of eye candy. The highlight at the front is the large grille with chrome lining and big air vents on either side of the bumper. There are some E-Type cues too but not very excessive. The door handles pop out of the doors when you need them, this helps the vehicle to remain aerodynamic.

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The rear of the F-Type is by far the most attractive part of the car. The rear is simple, minimalistic yet so visually pleasing. The small tail lights give an E-Type deja vu, while the rear stance is extremely sporty with twin centre tail pipes on the V6 models and quad pipes (two on either side) on the V8 model sitting on the rear bumper. The rear spoiler electronically retracts at speeds over 95 km/hr and generates 120 kgs of downforce. It stays closed otherwise to keep the lines at the rear clean.

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The interiors of the F-Type are a mix of sporty and luxury. The cabin is very well laid out and features excellent quality all around. You sit low but the seats are extremely supportive offering tremendous comfort. The centre console borrows some cues from the E-Type like the AC switches which take inspiration from aircraft switches. There is a grab handle for the co-driver on the centre console, it does look a bit out of place. The steering wheel feels nice to hold and the dashboard has been designed keeping the driver in mind, as every control falls into the hands of the driver easily. Being a Jaguar, there has to be some gimmick, like the centre AC vents which rise up when you turn on the air-conditioner.

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The F-Type is powered by three engines. The 3.0-litre V6 produces 340 PS of power and 450 Nm of torque. This engine offers good performance even though it is the base variant. Zero to  60 mph  takes  5.1 seconds, top speed and top speed is limited to 161 mph. The V6 motor is quite driveable and power delivery is linear. The V6 S engine gets an additional 40 horses and 10 Nm of torque, reducing the 0-60 sprint to 4.8 seconds. Top speed  gained 10 mph.

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The V6 S engine has the best balance of performance and dynamics. It has 50:50 weight distribution and both V6 S and V8 S models get active exhaust note, which amplifies the sound with a touch of a button. The V6 S feels much faster than the additional 40 horses would suggest. It pulls quickly to high speeds and even manages to offer good in-gear acceleration times. A drive around the Navarra Circuit in Spain clearly showed the good balance of the F-Type, it turns in eagerly and the steering wheel is a delight, offering tremendous feedback. There is slight bit of understeer, but very negligible.

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The top end variant is the V8 S which gets the fire breathing 5.0-litre Supercharged V8 engine, producing 495 PS of power and 625 Nm of torque. This engine takes just 4.2 seconds to nudge past 60 mph from zero and has a top speed limited to 186 mph. In terms of performance, the V8 S F-Type is the quickest and feels terrifically fast with an exhaust note to match. The quad pipes emit pure melody and there are cracks, burbles and the likes every time you down shift. Step on the accelerator pedal and the F-Type responds immediately, pulling quickly to high triple digit speeds with furore. It simply feels quicker than it actually is.

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However the heavier engine means the V8 S equipped F-Type is not as nimble. This model has 51:49 weight distribution and doesn’t glide through corners like the V6 S. The handling is good and so is the steering but the F-Type is not an all out track car. The Porsche 911 Carrera is more track focused. The F-Type weighs a good 150 kgs more than the Porsche and those motors handling the door and AC vent pop out mechanism add to the unnecessary weight of the car. Jaguar says the F-Type is 6% bigger than the Porsche while weighing 3-4% more. It is however unfair to compare the Jag with the Porsche, as the F-Type is an all new car, while Porsche has been tweaking and bettering the same car for 50 years now.

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Mated to all engines is a 8-speed automatic gearbox which is quick with shifts and is very refined too. One can manually change gears through the SportShift gear lever (no rotary knob here) or steering mounted paddle shifts. In Sports mode, the gearbox won’t upshift and will hold the gear till you manually change-up. In Dynamic mode, the F-Type becomes more eager with better acceleration, more weight on the steering and faster shifts. The suspension too becomes stiffer and all that contributes to the vehicle offering more driver oriented performance. There is even a launch control mode, which reduces traction control to facilitate maximum acceleration. All this works very well and transforms the F-Type in a very fun to drive car. There is even a Configurable Dynamics option which lets you tweak throttle response and steering weight. You can also time your lap and measure G-forces, quite Nissan GT-R like.

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The brakes on the F-Type are fabulous, they shed speeds at an instant. Pedal feel is splendid too and in spite of heavy braking on the circuit, there was very little signs of brake fade (almost negligible). Ride quality is surprising good and despite those low profile rubber, the F-Type absorbs bumps with authority, transferring very little to the occupants. The car remains glued to the road at high speeds and even with the roof down, it never feels affected by the wind.

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The roof comes down in 12 seconds and the use of a soft top helps in reducing weight and bettering packaging. A wind deflector should be offered as an option. The boot is small at 200.5-litres but can swallow a golf bag. It is also bigger than most of its rivals.

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The Jaguar F-Type has quite a lot to offer the sports car buyer. It looks really smashing in flesh and has interiors which are comfortable and feature rich. The ride quality is excellent and so are the brakes. All engines offer very good performance and offer a smashing exhaust note, which is reason enough to buy the F-Type. The vehicle handles well, it jinks into corners with good precision. Although the F-Type is not as track focused as its chief rival, the vehicle does offer a fun experience behind the wheel which makes it so desirable.

Faisal Ali Khan is the editor of MotorBeam.com, a website covering the automobile industry of India.

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Review: 2012 Jaguar XF Supercharged http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/review-2012-jaguar-xf-supercharged/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/review-2012-jaguar-xf-supercharged/#comments Mon, 14 Jan 2013 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=459748 I’d say that writing car reviews can be difficult at times but then it’s not really seemly to complain when nice folks drop off free cars to drive. Still, the gig does have its challenges. The last time that I reviewed the Jaguar XF Supercharged, a day after the fleet management company picked it up, […]

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I’d say that writing car reviews can be difficult at times but then it’s not really seemly to complain when nice folks drop off free cars to drive. Still, the gig does have its challenges. The last time that I reviewed the Jaguar XF Supercharged, a day after the fleet management company picked it up, their competitor, which works for Kia, dropped off a nicely equipped Sportage. At the time I joked with Ed Niedermeyer about reviewing both cars simultaneously. After all, with the democratization of luxury the cars were similarly equipped, sort of. Ed and I decided that silly or not a comparo wouldn’t be fair to either manufacturer. Still, it’s hard not to ruminate about comparisons when you’re working on a review.

The Sportage comparo was a joke but not long before I was loaned a 2012 Jaguar XF Supercharged, I reviewed the 2012 Chrysler 300 Luxury Series and in this case it was very hard not to compare the XF to the 300. Both cars are fairly large rear wheel drive four door sedans with just about every convenience and luxury option checked off down to the power sunscreen for the back window. As a matter of fact, the Chrysler had a couple of toys that aren’t available on the XF. Of course the Jaguar is significantly more expensive. As equipped with the 470 HP supercharged version of Jaguar’s corporate V8, the XF is $69,845, just about $25,000 more than the Chrysler. I gave the Chrysler a positive review and I was very impressed with it, so I couldn’t help but keep asking myself if the Jaguar was worth $25,000 more than the Chrysler. I recently reviewed a Jaguar XJ, which stickered out at about $80K so I was also mentally comparing the XF Supercharged to the larger, but less powerful, Jaguar.

My conclusion after a week with the XF Supercharged was that I really couldn’t say if the Chrysler was a better bargain or if the XJ was worth spending an extra ten (without the supercharger) or twenty thousand dollars (with the blown motor). I can say that if you’re looking for a fast, comfortable and luxurious 5 passenger car, you could do worse than the XF Supercharged. The ultimate difference that I perceived between the XF Supercharged on one hand and both the Chrysler 300 Luxury Series and the Jaguar XJ Portfolio on the other is summed up in that word “Supercharged”. The Chrysler had the 292 HP Pentastar V6 and the XJ Portfolio had the normally aspirated 385 HP version of the Jaguar V8, and it’s that 470 HP compressed charge engine that’s the XF Supercharged’s raison d’etre.

The Chrysler wasn’t slow. I said that it had adequate power for all situations you’d find on a public road. The XJ Portfolio was also quick. Though less powerful than the blown version in the XF Supercharged, the NA V8 in the XJ was hauling around a bit less weight than the XF since the larger Jaguar is made of aluminum and actually is a bit lighter than the steel XF. Pardon the pun but as quick as the Chrysler and bigger Jag are, the supercharged XF blows them away. With almost 100 more HP than the XJ and almost 200 HP more than the Chrysler, the XF Supercharged effortlessly surpasses “adequate”. Simply put, if you need power to do something in traffic, you’ll have it with this car. Anything requiring more power would probably be something imprudent and unsafe to do with other drivers on the road. You decide to do it, you put the right pedal down, and the car goes.

Getting back to the hypothetical comparison reviews, I had praised how quiet the Chrysler was and how smooth the ride was. In fact the Jaguar was noisier. Some of that noise was deliberate – any time you step on the gas you can hear the exhaust burbling in the way that only a V8 can do. As with the XJ, some underhood engine noise is also ported to the cabin. Though not as hardcore as the 510 HP XF-R, the XF Supercharged has most of the XF-R’s chassis upgrades, and it was undoubtedly tuned for a “sportier” ride than the Chrysler. That doesn’t explain, however, the amount of wind noise around the XF’s front side windows. A couple of times there was so much wind noise I had to check to make sure that the windows and moonroof were fully closed. With the windows down it also seemed to me that there was an unusual amount of wind buffeting the interior. The ride was sports sedan firm, stiffer than the Chrysler but also a bit more controlled, and a bit less harsh over irregular pavement.

That wind noise was a bit out of place considering how luxurious the XF’s interior is. Though a good chunk of the 25K difference in price between the Chrysler and the Jaguar is that exquisitely smooth and powerful supercharged engine, and though the Chrysler indeed is well featured and nicely appointed, if I had to pick a word to describe the difference besides the engines, I’d say refinement. That extra money definitely buys you refinement. The refinement extends to things like the trick articulated trunk hinges and struts that take up no cargo space at all, compared to the Chrysler’s goose necks that lose a lot of trunk space. Yes the Chrysler’s interior is slathered with leather, but the leather in the Jaguar is softer, even that appliqued to the dashboard and other panels. I regularly work with leather in my day job, machine embroidery, and all split grain leather is not created equal. Jaguar uses superior skins. Concerning embroidery, as is au courant with automotive interiors these days, there is contrasting detail stitching on the dashboard leather, which is made up of about a half dozen separate pieces. I’d like to believe it’s old world craftsmanship but it’s more likely a computer controlled sewing machine, but however they do it, the number of stitches and their locations are so precise and uniform that wherever two pieces of leather are seamed together the detail stitching precisely bridges the seam with a single stitch.

Speaking of “split grain” leather – in a recent review, Alex Dykes alluded to Honda’s hyping of their use of split grain leather in a steering wheel cover. That’s a case of hyping something that isn’t particularly special. Any real grained leather you see in a car is split grain. Full grain leather is the entire skin (minus the fur and epidermis), it’s thick and stiff and used for things like boots and saddles. One or more layers of suede are shaved off the back of the full grain skin to make it thinner and soft enough to use for upholstery and apparel, leaving what is called split grain leather. If it has suede on one side and real grain on the other (some “leather” is really suede splits with artificial grain glued on), it’s “split grain leather”. The next time a car salesman or PR flack tells you that their product comes with split grain leather, ask them, “as opposed to what other kind of leather?”

So the Jag’s leather was softer. It also had a much stronger smell. Maybe it was just psychological but I thought that the dark brown leather even had a few flavor notes from cigar tobacco. The nannies won’t let us have cigarette lighters and ashtrays in our cars anymore, but a small humidor would not seem out of place in the XF.  It’s a modern luxury car, but it’s still a proper British sedan with plenty of real wood to go with the cowhide.

To make the comparison unavoidable the Jaguar’s interior, like the Chrysler’s, was a mix of dark brown and beige. Though the dashboard, upper door surfaces and carpeting were a chocolate brown, the upholstery and Alcantera headliner and pillars were in a light beige, giving the cabin an airy feel. I thought that the light upholstery with dark accent inserts looked great. If you can’t adjust the gazillion-way power front seats with memory, you’re in the 99th percentile. With heated, cooled and ventilated seats your bum will be comfortable year round. My friend Al, who is close to 6 feet tall and weighs a bit more than the 280 lbs it says on his drivers license offered the unsolicited opinion that the back seat was even more comfortable than the front seats, but then there aren’t side bolsters in back.

I’m happy to report that for the first time I don’t have to complain about Jaguar’s clunky infotainment touchscreen. The screen was responsive and easy to use. Voice controls worked but I found them a bit infuriating in how the menus were nested and how slow it was. I also am not fond of navigation systems that don’t let you enter an intersection. I do like how Jaguar has the auxiliary controls configured on the leather wrapped steering wheel. For some functions they use thumbwheels, which strike me as easier to use than up/down buttons. The 600W sound system sounded fine regardless of the source. I did notice a glitch with the car’s Bluetooth. While most of the time the car would automatically recognize and pair with my Android based phone, there were times when they wouldn’t hookup, even if I tried to connect from both devices. In those cases, power cycling my phone would effect a pairing. Once paired, the audio system easily accessed music on my phone. Interestingly, connecting the phone to the car’s USB port, as the owner’s manual suggests for iPods and other portable music players, didn’t work with my phone. When scrolling through music sources from the steering wheel you’re still going to have to use the touch screen to select between user supplied media under the My Music control, which is a bit inconvenient if you have both your phone/iPod and a CD connected.

Geez, I’m reviewing a 470 horsepower sports sedan and talking about music and leather??? You want to know how it drives. In short, the way you’d hope a Jaguar would drive. Yes, the steering could have a bit more feel at lower speeds and the turn in could be sharper around town (though out on the highway it was razor sharp), but the way the car goes from the apex to the exit of a turn induces joy. Set up the car and power through the turn. The XF Supercharged has a trick rear end that uses an electric motor to control torque distribution and even with stability control on and Dynamic mode off, it will let you break the rear wheels loose just a tad before stepping in and keeping you from hitting a tree ass end first. I did notice that the rear end sometimes made a small noise when the car was in gear with the brake on while sitting on a slope but for the most part it does its job without any fuss. If I compared it to a discreet English butler, would that be cliched in a Jaguar review? Sticking with the Brit domestic servant theme, the safety nannies are about as unobtrusive as I’ve experienced.

Once you get an idea of how the car handles, its purpose becomes obvious. This is not a boy-racer car, it’s a car for grownups who want to get someplace in a hurry. It’s meant to move four or five adults in comfort and speed. It’s also not an economy car. Over about 350 miles of what I’d characterize as spirited urban and suburban driving (cf. 470 HP) my avg fuel economy ranged between 14 and 16 mpg, though that lower figure involved some idling. Of course you aren’t reading this review because you’re interested in how miserly the XF Supercharged uses petrol.

I noticed that Jaguar did something clever with the brakes in terms of aesthetics. Front and back rotors appear to be close to the same outside diameter, so the 20″ rims look to be about equally filled. Significantly smaller rotors in the back sometimes look a little bit funny with all that empty space. The front wheel hubs on this car, though, have a narrower diameter, allowing a greater swept area for the front’s six piston calipers to the rear’s four pot grippers. The result is superb braking, easily modulated at all speeds, perhaps the best brakes I’ve experienced. That comes at the cost of budgeting for a weekly car wash – as with other Jaguars that I’ve tested the brakes shed copious amounts of pad dust.

The XF’s styling was updated for 2012, in part to harmonize it with the newer XJ. The Supercharged edition shares most body panels with the normally aspirated XF, though there are non-functional hood vents that read Supercharged. I said that this is a car for adults. If you want more boy-racer styling, you’ll have to upgrade to the XFR, or the almost cartoonish XFR-S, on sale later this year, that fastest production Jaguar ever made. In general I’m a fan of Jaguar stylist Ian Collum but I don’t particularly like what his team has done with the highest performance Jaguars. The R and R-S models seem fussy compared to their cleaner forebears.

I do have a styling complain about the engine compartment. While shooting the photos to accompany this review, I noticed that the molded plastic engine cover could be removed rather easily to expose the housing of the supercharger, which like in the GM LS9, is nestled in the V between the cylinder banks. Though the aluminum supercharger housing bears the marks of some rough grinding, it’s basic shape is rather pleasing to the eye. It’s possible that there were some cost savings involved, but the supercharged engine is so much a part of the XF Supercharged’s character that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to show it off. I suppose that cosmetic finish machining can be expensive, but then the cost of machining a multiple cavity injection mold for a piece as large as the polymer engine cover is not insignificant either. I’m not saying they should go to a hood with a window, like on the Corvette ZR1, but I think most Jaguar owners would like to see what their money was buying instead of a piece of plastic.

In general, though, I think the XF looks great. People admire it, and while the previous XF looked a bit generic, the new one is readily recognized (and approvingly so) as a Jaguar.

So, ultimately do I think that the XF Supercharged is worth $25,000 more than the Chrysler I recently reviewed? For the cost of a nicely equipped compact car or even an average D segment midsizer, you get a bit more refinement, a better handling car (though the 300 was perfectly competent in that regard, it was tuned for comfort, not maximum grip), and that wonderful, mailed fist in a velvet glove of an engine. I was impressed with the Chrysler’s 292 HP Pentastar, but the XF Supercharged’s 470 HP really separates the two cars. It should be noted that the XF Supercharged is the cheapest XF with a V8. With new CAFE standards on the horizon, Jaguar has been introducing downsized engines. The engine in the $46,975 base XF is a 240 HP I4 though I don’t see them selling very many, because for just $3K more, you can get the 340 HP V6 which still gets 28 mpg on the highway, compared to four cylinder’s 30. One thing is for sure, you have an abundance of powerplant options and if almost twice as much power as the base model isn’t enough, you can upgrade to 510 HP in the XFR and even 550 with the XFR-S.

Four cylinder Jaguars. God it sounds wrong to even hear that said. Speaking of comparos, it would indeed be interesting to drive the XF Supercharged back to back with the four cylinder model since the blown model is just 10 HP shy of having twice the power.

So I think that yes, the XF Supercharged is worth the difference in price over the Chrysler (though I’d be perfectly happy with the big Mopar as a daily driver). Going in the other direction, comparing the XF-Supercharged to the more expensive normally aspirated XJ I recently reviewed, though I liked the XJ and think that in general it’s a bit better balanced (the XJ is all aluminum, the XF is ferrous so the larger car is actually lighter), the XJ Portfolio that I tested was about $13,000 more than the XF Supercharged, and while you get a larger and nicer car for that 13K, you also have to give up that marvelous supercharger. Then the question becomes, is the $89,600 XJ Supercharged worth 20K more than the XF Supercharged?

That’s not a real world question that I will ever likely have to answer since I can’t afford either one. However, Jaguar is returning to the Detroit auto show this year, after an absence, so there’s a good chance that at the NAIAS media preview I’ll run into the nice lady who manages Jaguar’s press fleet. If there’s a XJ Supercharged available for review, I’ll let you know.

Disclaimer: Jaguar of North America provided the car for a week, insurance and a tank of 91 octane. Thanks to the Inn at St. John’s for the photography location.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks – RJS

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Capsule Review: Jaguar XJL Portfolio http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/capsule-review-jaguar-xjl-portfolio/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/capsule-review-jaguar-xjl-portfolio/#comments Mon, 05 Nov 2012 14:37:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=465803 Auto journalists have a habit of being cornered at parties by interested outsiders – usually, the boyfriend of the cute girl you were just flirting with – and pounced upon with the standard question. After “what’s your favorite car?” and “what’s the fastest you’ve ever gone”, you are likely to get some kind of consumer […]

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Auto journalists have a habit of being cornered at parties by interested outsiders – usually, the boyfriend of the cute girl you were just flirting with – and pounced upon with the standard question. After “what’s your favorite car?” and “what’s the fastest you’ve ever gone”, you are likely to get some kind of consumer advice question. “I have $X to spend on a car. What would you recommend?”

When you’re on the free car gravy train, the concerns of the commoners, like reliability, practicality, fuel economy and running costs disappear. That’s why I’ve witnessed some members of my guild encourage people, with an unflinching earnestness, that the best car for someone looking for reliable family transportation, would be a used Saab 9-5 Aero. Or a brown Citroen SM. Or that legendary stalwart, the TDI Jetta Sportwagen.

I confess that my own choices will always lean towards the quirky, the thrilling or the intolerably obscure, but for us scribes, it’s easy. We always have reliable transportation in our driveways on a weekly basis, so when the work-in-progress Lamborghini Espada won’t fire up, you can take the 38 MPG 2013 Nissan Altima to the store for the milk run. If you’re a regular sap, that option doesn’t always exist, and reliability gains more importance. That’s why, despite it being my favorite car I’ve driven all year, I would never recommend a Jaguar XJ to anybody, even if it’s within the warranty period.

Before I skin the cat, sans anesthesia,  let me gush over this car in the metaphor-saturated hyperbolic tone that passes for great automotive writing these days. This car is all things to all people; comfortable enough to get driven in, but exciting enough that you’ll want to take the wheel. I think it looks stunning, though 75 percent of commenters will disagree with me. Even over local roads that looked like they’d be repaired by the Syrian Air Force, the XJ glided over the dips and bumps with a softness that toilet paper marketers yearn to verbalize. The 470-horsepower supercharge engine is near silent from inside, but delivers muscle-car like thrust. On the highway cycle, I got 22 mpg cruising at 80 mph with the A/C blowing cold.

The interior somehow managed to top the 2011 Jaguar XJL Supersport I drove last year; I thought the purple velvet-lined cigar box inside the rear armrest was as good as it got. The Portfolio package, with its rear-seat entertainment system, wireless headphones (so you can listen to your own music while front seat occupants play their own music) and the wireless controllers for all of that (which look like little Gameboys) take it to the next level. Also present are the mirrored tray tables (which I assume are for the consumption of liquid, rather than powdered intoxicants) and my favorite detail, that long, curved piece of wood that wraps from A-pillar to A-pillar. My mind contorts at the thought of how difficult and expensive that piece was to make.

Now that I’m done angling for a Pulitzer Prize, let me tell you why I’d never tell anyone to go out and buy this. The atrocious reliability. When you vouch for someone or something, you put your own credibility on the line, and for most people, a car is the second biggest purchase of their lives. The stakes aren’t quite as high for your typical XJ buyer as they would be for, say, a single mother that needs a good car to get to work and pick her kids up from school. Nevertheless, reliability data from Consumer Reports and True Delta confirms that Jaguar cars still struggle with reliability. Some local journalists even reported quality problems with the press fleet units, including infotainment systems that would randomly decide to stop working.

Until there is some kind of real evidence that Jaguar is making real strides in the quality of their cars, I’ll have to recommend something else to anyone looking for a $100,000 luxury sedan. Then again, if you’re the type that owns or admires the Citroen SM, this would make a great daily driver. Think of it as a much quicker, more opulent Citroen C6. With similar reliability.

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Review: 2012 Jaguar XKR-S http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-2012-jaguar-xkr-s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-2012-jaguar-xkr-s/#comments Thu, 15 Mar 2012 16:02:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=434160 At 7 years old, the XK isn’t a kitten anymore – but with a rumored 3 years until the next redesign, what’s a luxury marque to do? Make special editions, of course. On the surface, the XKR-S looks like a baby-boomer dressed like a teenager, or as the Brits put it: mutton dressed as lamb. […]

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At 7 years old, the XK isn’t a kitten anymore – but with a rumored 3 years until the next redesign, what’s a luxury marque to do? Make special editions, of course. On the surface, the XKR-S looks like a baby-boomer dressed like a teenager, or as the Brits put it: mutton dressed as lamb.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The XKR (reviewed last year) looks like sex, in a discrete, black-tie/coquettish sort of way. The XKR-S ditches subtle for brash; hood scoops, large hood vents, enlarged grille, carbon fiber splitter, carbon fiber spoiler, blacked-out trim (chrome is a $4,000 option), and bespoke 20-inch alloy wheels with 255-width Pirelli rubber up front and 295s out back are all part of this exclusive package (only 100 will be sent to America). There’s also a straked diffuser with dual exhausts, special badging and some crazy-looking vents at the leading edge of the front wheel well to improve brake cooling. Oh, and the front bumper seems to have been designed to look like a frown. Moderation is a Jaguar virtue and thankfully the R-S’s chassis is lowered by a scant 0.38 inches meaning we had no problems with steep driveways and speed bumps. So is it all-show-and-no-go? Far from it. All the aero tweaks put together reduce lift by 26%  and make the lift more even fore/aft than in the XKR.

Under the hood growls a lightly modified 5.0L supercharged V8 from the XKR. The quad-cam engine features direct injection, continuously variable valve timing, and a thoroughly modern twin-vortex Roots-type supercharger with twin air-to-water intercoolers tucked under the plastic vanity cover. Should you wish to accessorize your engine bay, Jaguar will swap that cover for one in carbon fiber for a cool $2,000. While the XKR, XFR and XJ Supersport have to make do with only 510HP/461lb-ft from this engine, the “-S” (and $34,000) buys an extra 40 ponies and 41lb-ft. You also get a revised exhaust, a tweaked 6-speed ZF automatic, sportier programming for the active suspension and electronic differential and a host of suspension changes, including fully machined steering knuckles (that increase caster and camber stiffness), increased steering effort, improved steering feedback, and 28% stiffer spring rates.

Back to those 550 horses. The only Porsche in this rarefied club is the Panamera Turbo S, while the only Aston is the One-77. BMW’s M5 and M6 put out 560, and from the bow-tie brand, only the Corvette ZR1 and Camaro ZL1 are more powerful.

The exterior and engine may have been reworked, but on the inside the “-S” boils down to some trim, some modified seats and a 190MPH speedo. In a strange twist, our tester was fitted with the “London Tan” interior, a standard color combo available on the lesser XKR. The XKR-S exclusive interiors are the better choice and feature “carbon fiber effect” leather trim, and bold-colored stitching and piping. The sport seats (optional on XKR) are designed to accommodate a 5-point harness, but aside from the fact they are standard and the “R-S” logos on the tiller and dash, you’d be hard pressed to tell the XKR-S and XKR apart inside. Speaking of not being able to tell the difference, the sport-grip-free steering wheel from the base XK and XF makes an encore in the XKR-S. While it’s not a bad tiller, it doesn’t feel as nice as new XJ’s wheel and the lack of ergonomic thumb grips keeps the XKR-S from feeling as sporty as the BMW and Mercedes competition.

While I’m complaining about the interior, let’s talk infotainment. 2012 has brought essentially no changes to the system shared with the Jaguar XF. The system is simple to use and well laid out but the lag between pressing a “button” and the system responding is long and screen changes are glacial. I appreciate minimalist design in theory, but in practice, putting controls like heated seats and a heated steering wheel in a sluggish system make them more aggravating than trying to stab the right button in a cluttered button bank. While some voice command systems have received harsh commentary from me in the past, I think even a lackluster system is better than none at all as we had to park the XKR-S to enter a navigation destination.

Like the XF, iPod and iPhone integration is well done, easy to use and allows essentially full access to your iDevices. While Mercedes’ COMAND is similarly ancient, Merc does allow voice entry of addresses. I’d like to compare the Jag system to BMW’s newest iDrive, but that’d be like comparing a Palm Pilot to an iPhone. Also on my complaint list is a sound system tuned so bright that even with the treble turned all the way down the Bowers & Wilkins system sounded unbalanced. I didn’t recall this problem in the XKR we drove last year with the same system, so it could be a problem unique to our tester.

Tech quibbles aside; the XKR-S’ raison d’être is not to Tweet or Facebook while commuting. The XKR-S was built for three things: going fast, screaming like a banshee and making passengers wet themselves. If I were a betting man, I’d say it was also designed with the recently announced 560HP M6 in its crosshairs. While the choice of an automatic may seem strange in a sports car, real-world drivability is greatly improved by having a torque converter. If you don’t believe me, just try to drive a Mercedes AMG with a “Speedshift” transmission in stop-and-go traffic up a steep hill. The XKR-S is a willing partner in the mountains, delivering rev-matched downshifts at the flick of a paddle accompanied by exhaust pops and a loud roar sure to spook any cyclists that may be in the middle of your lane. Should that startled tandem tumble, massive steel-and-aluminum monobloc calipers in your choice of red or black paired with upgraded pads and massive 15-inch vented front and 14.8 vented rear rotors stop the XKR-S in record time. Every time.

Jaguar tells us the XKR-S was tuned on the Nürburgring and runs a 7:50 lap in convertible form. Let’s put that in perspective. Over a 17.8 mile long course, an XKR-S will only run a few seconds behind a Ford GT, Lamborghini Gallardo, Lamborghini Murcielago, Ferrari 599 or a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. This shapely lump of hand-stitched leather posted a time faster than the previous generation M5, Ferrari F430, Panamera Turbo, Corvette Z06 and a wide variety of Aston Martins. With numbers like that it should come as no surprise that grip is excellent and limits are high. Aiding in your fun is a re-tuned stability nanny that has a track mode with higher limits than the XKR and a full-off mode should you dare. Yet, it’s not the grip that amused while flinging the XKR-S around the coastal mountains of Northern California, it was the acceleration which can only be described as savage. OK, maybe eye-popping. Possibly brutal. Definitely insane. Putting numbers to these adjectives, we clocked a 3.8 second run to 60 with massive wheel spin, smoke and severe intervention by the electronic differential and traction control software, but most importantly: no roll-out. Because that’s how we roll. Compared to the XKR we tested last year, this is a significant 0.7-0.8 second improvement.

While the XKR-S doesn’t claim to have launch control, we discovered the traction control systems and e-diff work best when you just nail the go-pedal from a stop rather than try to control wheel-spin on your own. Not worrying about lifting to maximize acceleration also allows you to enjoy the raucous noise bellowing out of the tailpipes. By the time the thrill of an automatic with DSG-like gear changes wore off and we did decide to lift, we were at 140 having blown well past the 12-second flat quarter-mile at 122MPH. Numbers like these are pointless without comparison. While the Panamera Turbo S may clock 3.6 second runs to 60 according to the auto-rags, those tests are often conducted with a roll-out. Besides, the XKR-S’s 122MPH 1/4 mile bests the 118 we clocked with a privately owned Panamera we were lent for a few hours.

While I hate to be speculative in any review, the XKR-S’s introduction just months before the new M6 begs at least an arm-chair comparison. A full M6 review will be posted when we can con one out of the Germans. For the rest of you, let’s start with the numbers. The new M6 may deliver 10 more horsepower than the XKR-S, but it is down 2lb-ft of torque compared with the Jag at peak. The curves indicate that BMW is putting some serious boost into their 4.4L V8 with peak power coming on a 6,000RPM and staying strong to 7,000 while peak torque happens at a very low 1,500RPM all the way to 5,750. Jag’s 5.0L engine created its maximum power from 6,000-6,500 RPM and peak torque from 2,500-5,500RPM. The XKR-S fights BMW’s broader bands with zero lag from its supercharger and a 260lb lower curb weight. Of course both Jaguar and BMW are known to quote conservative power figures, so this battle will continue on the track. The M6 will sport BMW’s 7-speed double clutch gearbox known for its fast changes, but I don’t expect it to be any smoother than the model used in the previous generation M5 making the XKR-s the better daily driver. Both the XKR-S and the M6 are similarly balanced in terms of weight, but the Jag wears skinnier rubber up front (255 vs the M6’s standard 265 width tires) and is slightly heavier in the nose, despite the lower curb weight. As a result I expect 0-60 runs will be very close with much of the variation down to the road surface and the final tire choice on the BMW.

 

Without a doubt, the XKR-S is a significant evolution of the standard car. Folksy Briticisms about mutton and lamb don’t apply here; the XKR-S is a predator, much like its feline namesake, and while the “space” part of William Lyons’ famous maxim may be missing, it makes up for it with “grace” and “pace” – lots and lots of it.

Jaguar provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-10: 0.65 Seconds

0-20: 1.14 Seconds

0-30: 1.18 Seconds

0-40: 2.61 Seconds

0-50: 3.24 Seconds

0-60: 3.83 Seconds

0-70: 4.98 Seconds

0-80: 6.06 Seconds

0-90: 7.12 Seconds

0-100: 8.42 Seconds

0-110: 10.17 Seconds

0-120: 11.84 Seconds

1/4 mile: 12.0 @ 122 MPH

xkrsthumb Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, cargo area, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, driver's side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, rear tire, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, rear tire, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, rear wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, front, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, steering wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, steering wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, speedometer, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, gauges, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, gauges, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, start button, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, shifter, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, shifter, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, HVAC Controls, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, driver's side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Engine, no cover, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Engine, 5.0L supercharged V8, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Engine, 5.0L supercharged V8, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Engine, 5.0L supercharged V8, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Engine, 5.0L supercharged V8, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, seat controls, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, passenger's side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, R-S logo, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Interior, steering wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, XKR & XKR-S side-by-side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, XKR & XKR-S side-by-side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, XKR & XKR-S side-by-side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, leaper logo, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, exhaust, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, brake cooling, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, hood vent, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, grille, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, headlamp, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, rear, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, side 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, spoiler, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, spoiler, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, spoiler, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, front wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, side vent, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, headlamp, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, grille, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, front, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, rear, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, front side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

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Review: 2012 Jaguar XJL Portfolio http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/review-2012-jaguar-xj-portfolio/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/review-2012-jaguar-xj-portfolio/#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2011 20:24:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=417820 Location: John Dodge mansion, Detroit Editor’s note: The car pictured is not a long-wheelbase model, which is the only “Portfolio” model sold in the US. We are looking into the discrepancy. When Jaguar of North America informed me that I’d be getting a 2012 XJL Portfolio for review, my first reaction was to engage in […]

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Location: John Dodge mansion, Detroit

Editor’s note: The car pictured is not a long-wheelbase model, which is the only “Portfolio” model sold in the US. We are looking into the discrepancy.

When Jaguar of North America informed me that I’d be getting a 2012 XJL Portfolio for review, my first reaction was to engage in some mental bench racing. How would the new XJ compare to the smaller but more powerful XF Supercharged that I tested just about a year ago, and how would it compare to my dearly departed Series III XJ, considered by many Jaguar enthusiasts to be the finest of the traditional XJs. On both counts the 2012 XJ comes out favorably in the comparison.

The XJ Portfolio is the fully equipped long version of the XJ. While other luxury car makers have introduced “L” versions of their sedans, in part to serve the Chinese market where the person who owns the luxury car is likely to be riding in back, Jaguar has been offering long wheelbase XJs for decades. Other than a small handful of options like back seat entertainment and the two available supercharged engines, the test model had just about every luxury, convenience and safety feature that Jaguar offers. With transportation charges, as tested it comes in at just a tick over $82K.

Location: Charles Fisher (Fisher Body) mansion, Detroit

The Portfolio package, a $4,000 option, gives you an additional 5” of wheelbase, heated and cooled 20-way power front seats with massage, heated and cooled rear seats, navy blue leather trim with detail stitching and contrasting gray piping, suedecloth headliner and trim, plus four zone climate control with individual controls for the back seat passengers. The front seats store up to three position memories. You also get front fender vents with “Portfolio” badges. Twenty inch “Orona” style wheels, @ $875 ea. complete the optional equipment. A no charge option is your choice of wood trim, which sweeps from one back door around the front of the cabin to the other back door. The test car was trimmed in a satin finished burled elm veneer, book matched left to right. The console is finished in “piano black”, and tasteful thin shiny chrome trim surrounds many of the interior elements.

Location: Walter Briggs (Briggs Body Co.) mansion, Detroit. Briggs competed fiercely with the Fisher brothers but they were neighbors in life and are also buried near each other. I’m not sure that body maker Charles Fisher would have appreciated the Pontiac Aztek parked behind his house.

Standard equipment includes Jaguar’s base V8, with 5.0 liters displacement, making 385 HP, driving through a six-speed automatic by ZF, with paddle shifters that are activated when you turn the round Jaguar shifter to the Sport position. Stability control is standard as is a winter mode control. Every XJ comes with what Jaguar calls a “panoramic” glass roof.

That’s Henry and Clara’s place in the background. Note the green historical marker.

While the entire roof panel may be glass, the view from inside is not really panoramic. In addition to a normal sized venting sunroof over the front seats, rear passengers have a smaller fixed glass panel that can be exposed.

Blind spot monitors (which seem to be not as hypersensitive or distracting as the system on the 2011 XF), multiple air bags and active head restraints are among the standard safety features. Infotainment is handled by an audiophile quality Bowers & Wilkins audio system with Bluetooth, iPod and USB connectivity, a 30 gig hard drive, and a navigation system, controlled through a 8 inch touch screen that is as frustrating as every reviewer says it is. The XJ comes standard with a smart key and a power trunk lid. Customers and reviewers love the XF’s “handshaking” ritual, wherein the shift knob rises from the console and the HVAC vents rotate to an open position. The XJ has a more traditional looking dashboard design, so to give us a little theater, in addition to the rising shifter when you power up, when you unlock the doors, the side mirrors rotate from their retracted parking position.

I’ve been around computers for more than two decades and I’m usually pretty good at intuiting how to use digital devices but I found the nav system to be not particularly intuitive. It took me a few aborted efforts to figure out how to get it to accept a destination once the address was entered. Well, once I managed to enter the address. The touch screen reacts slowly and you’re never entirely sure each time you press a “button” that it’s going to work. Sometimes a small light touch will work, other times you have to practically jab your thumb at it. Also, it’s much easier changing modes from the steering wheel controls than using the mode buttons on the touch screen. They are so close to the bottom of the screen that the frame gets in your way. Fortunately for most of the basic audio and HVAC functions there are actual buttons and knobs. I’m a smartphone newbie so I can’t tell you much about phone connectivity beyond the fact that once connected the XJ’s infotainment system easily accessed music on my Samsung Android and the fact that it was much easier to get my phone to connect to the car than the other way around. Bottom line is that I was able to get all the infotainment functions to work and in the case of the audio system, work very well indeed, but the touch screen is a chore. Perhaps because the rest of the car is so good the touch screen and nav system stand out like a sore thumb. Either way, it detracts from an otherwise enjoyable driving experience.

The instrument panel is a TFT display, with virtual gauges. There are a couple of things that I don’t like about the interior, though I suppose that I’m picking nits to do so. I don’t like the way the big round HVAC vents look. They function better than most, with almost infinite adjustment, but I just don’t like how they look. The other thing is that I’d rather Jaguar had fitted proper analog gauges, at least a real speedo and tach. The virtual instruments look out of place, almost faddish in an otherwise traditional looking interior. I realize the need for digital displays these days, but I think that Jaguar could have put two smaller TFT screens flanking real gauges. Also, if you’re going to go with virtual gauges, at least sync the tachometer and speedometer indicators. One of the cool things about my old XJ was that at traffic speeds the tach and speedo needles were parallel and pretty much moved in sync as you went faster. If Jaguar could do that with mechanical gauges in the mid 1980s, I think they could do it with a virtual digital display. As is au courant in luxury cars, there’s an analog clock in the center of the dash that’s supposed to remind us of expensive wrist watches. Perhaps ironically, the analog clock is set digitally through the touch screen. Press “set” and the hands start spinning to the correct time.

Note how the grain in the burled elm wood trim is book matched left to right.

Quality control can be meaningless when it comes to prepped press fleet cars, but with that caveat, there were few noticeable flaws in the review car. Sometimes I could feel something moving around inside the driver’s seat back, perhaps it was part of the built in massager, and the back window glass slopes so that there is some visual distortion that makes objects look shorter and wider than they are. Fit and finish was as you’d expect in a car of this price. Other than some rather convincing looking vinyl on the door kick panels, just about everything you touch and see in the interior was once alive, sourced either from a cow or a tree. The leather trim shows signs of being fitted by real human beings. I see those slight imperfections as a good thing. The car smells like a leather jacket factory. That’s not hyperbole – my day gig is embroidery and every couple of months or so I trek down to Reed Sportwear to buy big leather scraps to use for motorcycle patches. I’m sure that my friends at Reed would admire the quality of the Jaguar’s leatherwork.

The XJ doesn’t just smell good, it feels good too. Car interiors are designed to fit just about 99% of people. If you can’t get those 20-way seats to find you a comfortable position, you’re probably in the 99th percentile. My bad back appreciated the inflatable lumbar support and massager. My love handles the inflatable bolsters, not so much. Those wealthy Chinese riding in the back will appreciate the longer wheelbase. Again, if you don’t have enough room sitting back there it’s probably because there’s a 99th percentile person sitting in the front seat. I can’t tell you how much that sloping roof affects headroom because at 5’6″, I always have enough headroom. Room for my ego? That’s a different question. I could get very used to driving this car.

The XJ is a fabulous looking car inside and out. That’s not just my opinion. Everyone who saw it just gushed with enthusiasm. While driving the XJ, I noticed that people noticed the car. More than one person came up to talk to me about it. The car makes a visual statement. The XJ is a big car to begin with and this stretched version came in an impossible to miss Polaris white paint.

After a week of driving, the painted alloy wheels were streaked with black brake dust.

Customers who opt for this color should invest in a coupon book at their neighborhood car wash because the bright white finish shows every tiny little bit of dirt. That’s a problem because like the XF I drove last year the XJ sheds brake dust like a Siberian Husky sheds undercoat in the spring. The big rims are painted in two shades of grey, perhaps to camouflage the dust. Or perhaps not, because it doesn’t really hide much of the dirt. Also, some of that dust ends up on the white paint. It’s a shame, because it’s really a beautiful car and its lines look great in white. Of course, in exchange for all that brake dust you get pretty effective anchors. It took a day or two of driving to get used to the somewhat sensitive pedal, but after that the brakes were easy to modulate and they retard your speed quickly. Use the brakes hard and the ABS will kick in, a bit earlier than I expected, but it’s not intrusive.

Location: Edward Fisher (Fisher Body) mansion, Detroit

It’s not perfect. On a white car Ian Callum’s rather notorious black sail panels that visually extend the rear glass from port to starboard are hard not to notice. I’ve never really objected to them as some folks have, since I get what Callum’s team was trying to do, but I understand those objections. Perhaps if the bottom edge of the window and those panels had extended couple of inches farther down, eliminating the slightly awkward little curl where the body meets the back edge of the side glass, there’d be fewer complaints, but I’m not going to lecture Ian Callum about car design beyond saying that I like or don’t like.

Speaking of the side glass, all things considered, visibility is good. The small window behind the rear doors really helps with your blind spot. I said all things considered because this is a modern high waisted high assed car, like just about every other sedan and coupe being made today. Between the high back deck and sloping roofline that distorted rear window only fills up about half of the rear view mirror, so the standard backup camera does come in handy.

Location: Mayer Prentis (longtime GM treasurer, Alfred Sloan’s right hand man) home, Detroit

The high beltline affects both the height of the back deck and the height of the front cowl. How high is it? Well, my big sister tells me that from the back seat I look like my dad when I drive, right hand bent over the top of the steering wheel, left elbow on the window ledge. Perhaps if I was six inches taller the window ledge might not be so uncomfortably high to use as an armrest. As it is, it looks like I’m trying to do the Funky Chicken. I should say, though, that the leather covered armrest on the door worked just fine. The high cowl, accentuated by that wood trim as it runs under the windshield, means that a short person like myself doesn’t have a prayer of seeing the front end of the car.

Location: Alfred O. Dunk home, Detroit

Still, that didn’t seem to be a problem, mostly because the XJ handles very well for a large car. Scratch that. It handles very well period. It doesn’t really feel like you’re driving such a big car. The fact that you can’t really see the corners of the car don’t really matter because it just goes where you steer it. All in all, I think the XJ may be a better handling car than the XF. The XF Supercharged had all of the XFR’s suspension upgrades, and according to published tests it’s a little bit quicker than the XJ Portfolio in the slalom. Ultimately the XF Supercharged is a bit more sporting, with less body roll, but the XJ Portfolio is more balanced. In long wheelbase form the XJ is a much larger car than the XF, about 10 inches of wheelbase and overall length, but its turning radius is only a foot wider than that of the XF. My perception is also that the steering on the XJ has a faster turn in than the XF. Not so quick that it makes the car feel darty, but once you get past 2 or 3 degrees from dead center, the car moves laterally with alacrity. This is one big car that can definitely get out of its own way. The speed sensitive power steering is very nicely weighted, with the right amount of effort in every case I experienced. The car is a pleasure to drive either sedately or with more vigor. It will waft with the best of them or alternatively, put the car into “dynamic” mode, which adjusts shock absorber settings and changes drivetrain mapping, and carve to your heart’s content. The XJ Portfolio has a lot of grip, the same .9g skidpad results as the XF Supercharged. I had to look up that figure because I don’t have a Traqmate or some other testing gizmo, but all of us have our own unofficial real world proving grounds. *Doing 60 on Providence Drive is pretty good, particularly with no tire noises or drifting. Though it doesn’t have the supercharged models’ active differential, the rear end is well controlled and when the dynamic stability control activates, it does so with little fuss. You have to try to break the rear end loose, and when you succeed, the DSC steps in quickly and fairly unobtrusively.  Alternatively, you can just deactivate the stability control and let it hang out. Even then, there’s enough grip that you have to work at getting the back end to slide. The ABS also shows a level of refinement that you might not find in cars at a lower price point. The XJ never seemed out of sorts. It drives with the composure that a longtime XJ fan expects from the marque.

Location: James Couzens (FoMoCo business manager & Ford partner) mansion

One of the things I was interested in finding out was if the stock 385HP engine was stout enough for the biggest cat Jaguar makes. The XF Supercharged had 85 more horsepower, a non-trivial delta. It turns out, though, that there is more than adequate power to endanger your driver’s license. The new XJ is Jaguar’s most modern architecture and the body is all aluminum, magnesium and polymer composites. The XF is highly ferrous by comparison. That means that the XJ Portfolio that I drove, at just over 4200 lbs, actually weighs about 100 lbs less than the smaller XF Supercharged. Though acceleration is not as instantaneous as with the smaller, blown Jaguar, you’re still capable of doing 90 mph without thinking about it as you enter the freeway. If Providence Drive is suitable for testing cars’ handling, the northbound Southfield freeway just north of Eight Mile Rd just before the expressway ends is great for short high speed runs. Detroit PD doesn’t patrol north of 8 Mile and Southfield cops generally won’t go all the way south to 8 Mile just to do traffic surveillance on 1 mile of expressway. So you have about a mile where you can open it up as much as you are willing to do, traffic allowing of course. The XJ Portfolio is still accelerating at 115. I have no doubt that it will pull hard all the way to its electronically limited top speed of 148 mph.

Attention was paid to weight (aluminum wheel for spare tire) and weight distribution (battery mounted in the trunk).

There are signs of attention to reducing weight from front to back and in between. Under the hood, you can see the lightweight castings that are used for the suspension towers. Next to the trunk mounted battery is a dedicated space saving spare tire, with its own aluminum wheel. The body panels are a mix of aluminum and composites. Jaguar did a fine job getting uniform paint color over multiple substrates.

Location: Ty Cobb home, Detroit

There is one aspect of the XJ that it unfortunately shares with the XF Supercharged that I tested last year. Right off of dead idle, throttle response is kind of flaky. After a week with the car I decided it was probably a combination of throttle and transmission mapping to keep MPGs high. I believe that under normal circumstances, the transmission starts out in 2nd gear. At least it starts out in second when you switch it to sport mode and activate the paddle shifters so I assume that from stops, the car starts in second. You step on the gas pedal and the car kind of sits there for a fraction of a second till you get past that point on the throttle. If you’re real sedate you might not notice it, and if you drive with a lead foot you probably won’t either, but if you drive like Goldilocks, it almost feels like a stumble, almost. It’s not something that would keep me from buying the car, but it is out of character with Jaguar’s sporting ways.

Location: Henry Ford mansion, Detroit. It should be noted that the Ford Motor Co. was a success before the Model T. Completed in 1908, Ford started building this home before he introduced the T.

The XJ Portfolio also had a firmer ride than I expected. Once you enter the freeway, that’s really where the XJ’s ride quality shines and it evokes memories of older XJs, but with a suspension tuned for drivers, those 20” rims give the XJ a ride on Detroit’s frost heaved roads that is surprisingly firm for a luxury car. Not harsh, but definitely on the harder edge of firm. It would be interesting to drive the XJ with 19” wheels to see if there’s a substantial difference in urban ride quality.

Perforations allow some engine noise to reach the cabin. Big cats gotta growl.

Jaguars are luxury cars for enthusiasts so they don’t entirely isolate you from what’s going on outside. There’s a little bit of road noise from the huge back tires, and there’s a perforated panel under the hood that lets some engine noise into the cabin. Still, the car cossets you in its own way. I could get very used to driving this car.

Location: Horace Rackham (FoMoCo lawyer and investor) mansion. Built in 1907, a year before the Model T was introduced. Ford and his partners were rich even before they put the world on wheels.

Once out on the open interstate or on winding back country roads the skill of Jaguar’s chassis tuners shows through. On the highway, the XJ Portfolio has all of the grace of old school XJs, though with a bit more pace, and at least as much space. On winding roads, the XJ is surefooted, quick, and will bring a smile to your face.

Gas mileage was about what you’d expect from a two ton car with almost 400 horses. I averaged 16.2 mpg for a bit more than a tank of gas, though most of that was not highway driving. Judging by the instantaneous readings, on the highway you should get into the 20s, maybe 25 mpg if you lightfoot it. EPA ratings are 16/23.

The suspension towers are lightweight castings that are fastened to the aluminum superstructure.

Not having driven a recent S klasse Mercedes, 7 Series BMW or LS from Lexus I can’t tell you how the XJ Portfolio stacks up against its direct competitors. I can say that if I could afford any of those cars, the XJ would definitely be on my short list. Yes, the infotainment system is a bit clunky, but ultimately I judge a car on it’s utility and its dynamics.  The XJ Portfolio is such an engaging car in terms of performance and handling, the comfort and aesthetics so well executed, that the question of how easy the touch screen is to use becomes almost irrelevant. We all know the Lucas, Prince of Darkness jokes and historical downsides to British cars, but at the same time the Jaguar brand and in particular the XJ has always stood for a uniquely British take on sporting luxury. A few flaws notwithstanding, the 2012 XJ Portfolio is a great Jaguar, a great XJ and should be considered by anyone in the market for a full size luxury sedan.

*Very late at night with no other traffic.

Jaguar of North America provided the car for a week, insurance and a tank of premium gasoline. Detroit’s historic Boston-Edison district provided most of the backdrops for the photos, which are courtesy of Cars In Depth.

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