Put through the paces : Jaguar XF-R

Priced just shy of the 100k mark, the Jaguar XF-R enters serious territory. The XF-R is Britain’s answer to Germany’s beefed up GT cars: Audi RS6, BMW M5 and Mercedes E63 AMG.

When you first step into the XF-R it feels like an executive GT sedan should. There is plenty of room both for driver and passenger, even 6+ footers like me. The options and accommodations help drive home the luxury car feel as well. Heated and ventilated seats along with a simply laid out console makes any long drive more than enjoyable.

As you start to explore more of the car’s options you notice where the sporting feel creeps in. Alcantara roof lining and bits of carbon fiber catch your eye and you wonder why racing materials are in your GT sedan. As you customize the seat adjustments to your liking you notice you can bring the side supports in for a real bucket seat hugging feel. Next you see the setting marked ‘R’ on the gear selector and you’re not NOT going to put it into Race mode… then you hit the accelerator and it all makes sense.

A 5.0-liter super charged V-8 burbles back at you, the burble turns to a grunt and then a roar with the unmistakable whine of a super charger. Before you know it you’re above highway speeds and you realize you weren’t even close to half throttle. Give it the full weight of your right foot and the big cat will do 60 mph from a stand still in 4.7 seconds.

Taking the materials and the acceleration time away from a compromised track car, the XF-R could easily be mistaken for one… on paper. After driving around English backcountry roads all afternoon you’ll learn it is the furthest thing from it. Even with the larger wheels, low profile tires and stiffer spec’d suspension than the base model it rides incredibly smooth. Despite the 1 ton weight, the executive 4 door can handle country corners with ease and still absorb the ancient Roman road work.

In the fight against the Germans the Brits have brought a serious contender. The simplicity and user-friendly capability definitely swings in the Jag’s favor. The power and everyday drivability makes this beast the healthy alternative to the Bavarian big 3.

Following Cadillac: Looking Forward

“History repeats itself”, one of the most used cliché’s in the English language. Nevertheless, a cliché that proves itself true time and time again. For a certain car company, I would imagine they are banking on that.

In 2002 Cadillac unveiled the Cien concept at the Detroit Auto show. With a 950 bhp, mid-mounted 7.5 liter V-12, a design inspired by the F-22 Raptor and an exotic European stance, it looked like the epitome of what a performance car should be. Sadly, though, it was never to be put into production. It was more of Cadillac just flexing their muscles.

Now jump forward 8 or 9 years. Cadillac has, arguably, one of the best performance sedans and coupes in its class. Coincidence? I think not. When car companies produce a concept never to see light or even a halo car that makes it to production, the trickle down effect is inevitable. The CTS-V may not have a 950 horse V-12 in the back seats, but if you dilute and filter the Cien enough you sure would come close to it. And that’s saying a lot.

The point I’m trying to make is that Cadillac is at it again. Cadillac unveiled the Ciel at the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. One of the most prestigious car shows in the world. It is home to the most expensive and luxurious cars known to man, past and present.

The Ciel is powered by a twin turbo 3.6 hybrid V-6. I know that doesn’t sound like much compared to Cadillac’s of old nor does it even hold a candle to a Rolls or a Bentley V-(insert large number). But that’s because Cadillac is aiming this luxury car at the 99%ers, if you will. The level of luxury however could easily be mistaken for a 1%er. From the swooping lines and suicide doors on the outside to the smooth olive wood dash and elegant yet simplistic interior, it robs from the rich and gives to the middle class. Passengers, who you might mistake for the owners, have more   than enough room for comfort. The headroom has to be measured in miles due to the drop top.

If Cadillac follows a similar path to that of the Cien to CTS-V route, starting with the Ciel, the possibilities are limitless. At the very least I would suspect a car that could easily compete with the top range BMWs, Mercs and Audis in the luxury and grandeur department yet still be half the price.

If history has anything to say about it, the Germans should start to worry… again.