Jaguar’s New Jamboree of Luxury
by Holly Reich, with additional reporting by Erik Netcher
The 2012 Jaguar XJ, XKR and XFR
When one puts the pedal to the metal in any of the 2012 Jaguars, a heightened state of being is reached. Driving the super-powered R versions, however, is an even more sensual experience. The vehicles purr, pounce, and slice through traffic with confident precision.
Beneath the bonnet of the Jaguar XFR hums a 5.0-liter direct-injection supercharged V8 engine that delivers 510 hp and 461 lb.-ft. of torque and can accelerate the car from zero to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds. The XKR accomplishes the same in 4.6 seconds with the same horsepower and torque.
The unique JaguarDrive Selector—a knob that rises up when the engine starts—the driver can choose the drive function by rotating the control with the fingertips. (This design drew its inspiration from the grip on a Leica camera lens.) For manual gearing, there are paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel—a common feature on today’s luxury autos.
A High-Design Ride
What truly separates the Jaguar XF from the herd are details that Ian Callum, Jaguar’s director of design, calls “those small, intuitive touches that many people may not notice, but make a Jaguar a Jaguar.”
In describing the design of the XF sedan, Callum points out the two artfully shaped blades of chrome in the area where the fog lamps would normally reside. They were fashioned after a Philippe Starck knife.
He says that the Jaguar’s skins were “stretched to maximum efficiency” for a simple, seamless profile and feature special effects like ingots on the front haunches, the Jaguar growler on the front, and the leaper on the rear. “We did things to make people smile,” Callum notes. “It’s important to put stuff in that’s a bit of fun… the Brits have a sense of irony and wit.”
Touches like a start/stop button that lights up like a heartbeat and beats red when the car powers up is a prime example. “We wanted to imply that the car is coming alive,” the designer says. The visual ballet continues with the air vents, which open (like eyes) when the car starts and close when it turns off. Mobile phones inspired the phosphorescent blue lighting that pools in soft halos around the switches. The dash, which combines clean lines with high-tech controls, is similar to a Bang & Olufsen stereo.
Every detail receives attention. To finish off the edges of the real wood surfaces, technicians used a finely tuned saw to avoid gaps. Even if one doesn’t notice these touches, Callum says that the overall effect is intuitive. “The driver comes away with a feeling of quality,” he says.
In the Driver's Seat
Buyers of the Jaguar XKR or XFR coupe receive a complimentary course at the Jaguar R Performance Academy located in cities including LA, New York, Las Vegas and Miami. The program, taught by world-class driving instructors, was developed to offer drivers the opportunity to explore the performance of the Jaguar line on some of the most technically challenging road courses in America. For those who have not purchased a car, a test drive ($1,850) includes a Jaguar for your use, a track facility and all-star instructors from Formula 1, Endurance Racing, IndyCars and more. Enjoy the ride.