By Mike Hanley on June 22, 2009
You know you're not living in ordinary times when an automaker touts the gas mileage of its new 510-hp, supercharged V-8, but that's what Jaguar did when it visited the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill., with a 2010 XKR coupe and convertible and XFR sport sedan in tow. The event was designed to showcase these models’ performance capabilities to potential customers, but Jaguar let us lowly auto journalists drive both cars, too. The early judgment on the new supercharged V-8? It’s an enthralling blend of power and refinement.
The V-8's vitals are 510 hp at 6,000 rpm and 461 pounds-feet of torque at just 2,500 rpm, but all you need to know is that this engine makes enough thrust to snap your head back against the leather-covered head restraint when you mash the gas pedal. Jaguar cites gas mileage estimates of 15/22 mpg city/highway for the XKR and 15/21 mpg for the XFR, with zero-to-60-mph times of 4.6 and 4.7 seconds, respectively. Those times are impressive, but it's the everyday livability of the R models that should make them most appealing to luxury car buyers.
When you're done driving like an unruly teen — and, to an extent, even when you still are — the XKR and XFR still have a luxury bent to them; the engine's smoothness and the six-speed automatic's composure befit these cars' standing. Jaguar also touts the quietness of the V-8's Eaton supercharger, which is also used in the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. After driving both Jags, I can attest to its muted operation; I never heard any supercharger whine driving on the street or the track.
Both are equipped with Jaguar's Adaptive Dynamics technology, which can adjust the suspension based on driving conditions. This suspension yields taut ride quality and transmits pavement irregularities to the cabin, but it's not so firm that you'd end up dreading the commute to the office. Considering that the R lineup is Jaguar's outlet for its highest-performing production cars, ride quality is quite livable.
The XFR starts at $79,150, while the XKR begins at $95,150 for the coupe and $101,150 for the convertible. The more I drove both of these cars, the more I preferred the XFR over the XKR. This probably has something to do with my affinity for sport sedans, but I think there was more to it than just the body style; the XFR felt nimbler and its drivetrain seemed a little more responsive. Its lower starting price compared to the XKR is just one more reason to like it.
Senior Editor Mike Hanley is a father of three boys; he reviews new cars, admires classic cars and has embraced the minivan lifestyle. Email Mike