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Jaguar Launches a High-Performance Missile


Piloting a machine powered by a supercharged 5-liter, 510-horsepower V-8 able to burst from a standing stop to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, with a top speed of 155 mph, won't win over many, if any, environmentalists.

So why would Jaguar, the British maker of luxury machines, owned by Tata of India, even bother with the 2010 XFR?

Because while the number of enthusiasts who can spring for an $80,000 missile is limited, "There's still a market for those who want the ultimate in high-performance machines," says Jaguar mouthpiece Stuart Schorr.

So those who putter around in $20,000 hybrids have no reason to complain.

Tata has owned Jaguar, along with Land Rover, for about a year since taking both off Ford Motor Co.'s hands so it didn't need U.S. government cash.

The XFR performance addition to the XF lineup is a child of Ford, adopted by Tata. Tata officials, in fact, just approved more product plans that not only ensure a future for Jaguar and Land Rover but also venture into four new segments, starting with a compact Range Rover LRX in 2011. Jaguar's mum on its cars of tomorrow.

Step hard on the accelerator of the 2010 XFR, and it's difficult to come up with reasons for not having one of these trophies in the display case.

Open slots in the hood with "supercharger" written alongside, and the rich honeycomb grille, draw attention to the sedan.

And the engine seals the deal. With those 510 hp and 510 pound-feet of torque, the XFR flies -- literally. The excitement of a power takeoff sucks the air out of your lungs. It's like being strapped to a rocket. You leap forward and head for the horizon until it's time to tap the brake pedal. Fuel economy is only 15 mpg city/21 highway, but who cares? There's no gas-guzzler tax.

Thankfully, the brakes respond quickly and firmly. Carry a helmet until you get used to the feel though.

The suspension absorbs rough patches below and ensures the body stays level and balanced into and out of the twisties. Stability control is standard.

Perforated leather seats offer great support and security in aggressive motoring. Their easy-chair comfort is heated and cooled to the toasted and ice-cube degrees.

Those relegated to the rear seat must sacrifice head room to the sharply slanted coupe roofline that minimizes fuel-robbing drag. Leg and knee space is lean too. And lean doesn't begin to describe the door openings, which make entry and exit a feat of athletic agility.

A minor thing concerns the finicky glove box. Rather than pushing a button to open it, you press a target-like decal on the dash, often more than once.

Nice touches include a trio of holders in the center console for cups or cans, iPod or IPass or the large fob for the push-button start. USB, MP3 and power-plug connections are under the armrest.

Another nice touch is the motorized gear dial. After starting the engine, what looks like a screw cap on a bottle rises from the center console. Shift gears by twisting the dial left or right. Push the engine button off, and the selector retreats into the console.

Rather than yanking an unsightly emergency brake in the console, give the lithe lever a pull. Fingertips only please. And, when the engine is off, the air ducts in the dash close fashionably. A very neat look.

At another touch of another button, the rear-window shade motors down to keep the cabin cool -- and private.

The XFR starts at $79,150 and comes with no options. Just add $850 in freight and more in tax, of course, to slip in, push start, lower the top, take off and bid the world "ta ta."



Wheelbase: 114.5 inches
Length: 195.3 inches
Engine: 5-liter, 510-hp, supercharged V-8
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
MPG: 15 city/21 highway
Price as tested: $79,150
(Add $850 for freight.)

(+) Sooo quick
(+) Stand-out styling
(+) No gas-guzzler tax
(+) No options to fiddle with

(-) Price
(-) Mileage
(-) Entry/exit tight


Jim Mateja can be reached at transportation@tribune.com.


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