2014 Jaguar XFR-S
Watch out, luxury automotive world: Jaguar Land Rover is on a "product offensive." The tip of the spear for this was an SUV, 2013's lightweight, high-style aluminum-chassis Range Rover, followed quickly by a roadster, the sublime Jaguar F-Type. Now, JLR, the Tata-owned umbrella corporation for Jaguar, Range Rover, and Land Rover, is giving Jaguar's high-performance R-Line a long-awaited update. The centerpiece is the XFR-S, a premium casting of last year's refreshed, and gorgeous, XF sedan. This is a 4-door on steroids – a super-sedan, if you will – with looks that kill and a fierce new powertrain that earns it a spot on the roster alongside the BMW M5 and the Mercedes E63 AMG.
The XFR-S is the most powerful sedan built by Jaguar – ever. Under the hood, you will find Jaguar's brand-new 5.0-liter, supercharged V8, which produces 550 horsepower (that's 40 more than the previous V8) and 502 pound-feet of torque. It hits the 0-60 mark in 4.4 seconds, a tad slower than the nimble M5 (and at $99,000 and change, a tad more money).
But these performance stats are just stats. The XFR-S is a sensory experience: From the matte-black grille mesh to the supercharger's bulge on the hood to an exhaust note that sounds like the good Lord Himself is shredding a giant piece of sheet metal (that's a good sound, by the way: raspy, rich, profound). It has a top speed (which we didn't test; we're taking Jag's word for it) of 186 mph. Behind this engine is a liquid-smooth 8-speed ZF "quickshift" transmission that utilizes what Jag calls "Intelligent Torque Management." For the driver, it means zero shiftlag.
On the road (or the track) the XFR-S, which has a steel frame, feels sharper and lighter than it should. The chassis is twice as stiff as the standard XF sedan, with a sportier suspension that makes the XFR-S noticeably more responsive in corners.
And that slick carbon fiber wing on the back isn't just for show: It reduces high-speed lift, and you're going to need the back wheels on the road when you test out this saloon's impressive middle-of-the-dial acceleration in the passing lane (the XFR-S travels from 50 to 75 mph in a paltry 2.46 seconds).
Fast, stylish, roomy, with a thoroughly impressive new engine, Jaguar's latest "product offensive" is quickly amounting to a next-generation evolution for the brand. These cars are no longer so precious or laden with extravagance that the driver can't feel the road for all the Altantara leather he's wrapped in. The new R-line Jaguar is for driving enthusiasts, not just lovers of luxury. [MSRP from $99,000; jaguarusa.com]