BMW teams up with Italian styling gurus at Pininfarina for slick new coupe
Have we found the perfect supercar?
Last month Steve questioned whether it is possible to actually live with a supercar after we spent a very memorable 24 hours in Lamborghini's brilliant Aventador.
You can read his rant here, but in summary he suggested that if you needed to use an Aventador, or indeed any brooding supercar, on a daily basis there's a good chance you'd soon get sick of the constant attention, the gymnastic routine for entry and exit, and a noise that will see you at a tinnitus clinic in later life. Of course, the honeymoon period would be an absolute blast!
First drive: Lamborghini Aventador
However, I think we may have found the perfect antidote to the supercar, a car with the performance of a low-flying jet, seating for five and the sort of placid styling that won't cause shock and awe when you drive down the high street. That car is the Jaguar XFR.
That's not a supercar
The Jaguar XFR probably isn't a supercar by the usual definitions. Super-saloon maybe, performance saloon most definitely, but it's the fact that it doesn't suffer from the usual supercar foibles that makes it such a compelling supercar choice. Confused? Stick with me.
Packing a 5.0-litre, V8, supercharged engine, pumping out 510hp, the XFR goes about its business with devastating effectiveness. 510hp might sound a little weedy in comparison to today's supercars, regularly pumping out closer to 600hp, but consider this: the Ferrari F430, which ended production in 2009, had a 'mere' 490hp. A bona fide Italian supercar has less muscle than an exec express built in the Midlands.
Also, don't forget supercars are as highly strung as an aggrieved wasp and egg you on to push them harder and harder until you either wrap it around a lamppost or end up in the Daily Mail leaving court with a blanket over your head. The XFR is more laid back than this. It isn't that devil sitting on your shoulder telling you to see what it can do.
How fast is it?
The benchmark for supercars these days is to hit 60mph in less than four seconds. The XFR will sprint to that speed in 4.7 seconds. So a supercar maybe has less than a second's advantage off the line, not a great margin considering the XFR is a bit of a fatty, topping the scales at 1,891kg and with the ability to carry your family, too.
Will I get an Asbo?
The best and consequently the worst part of driving a supercar is the constant noise. Mechanical whirrs, fizzes, bangs, squeaks, rattles and pops turn me to jelly but after an hour I just want the car to SHUT UP. The racket is just as bad on the outside, and as you accelerate hard birds will fall dead from the sky in shock and old ladies will reel in horror of the grim reaper's appearance.
Read an Aston Martin review
The XFR, by comparison, is like a new-born kitten, mostly quiet but occasionally a little raucous and playful. It is not a full-on, shouty, look-at-me roar. As you drive around at normal speeds the interior is as tranquil as a beach hut in the Seychelles, but plant your foot to the floor and the inner wild cat emerges with guttural roars and aggressive bangs on the exhaust.
Can I use it like a normal car?
If by normal you mean you can drive to work and take your family out occasionally, then yes, you could use the XFR as a daily driver. The rear has space for three people, though it is at a pinch, and the boot is big enough for the supermarket run or a holiday to Bordeaux. The chassis too is divine and while other performance saloons would bounce and bang from one surface imperfection to the next, the XF glides over them with barely a ruffle felt beneath your Levis. Then, when you've dumped the kids off and you feel like driving with abandon, the XF can be programmed to toughen up via buttons that hone the suspension and gearchange. Now it feels like a supercar.
Read a Porsche review
Does the interior feel supercar-special?
Some thought has gone into making the XFR a special place to reside. Climb in and the starter button pulses like a heartbeat, inviting you to awaken the beast. Do so and the circular gear selector rises out of the centre console like something from an eighties sci-fi movie, while the air vents swivel automatically to pour cold air on your sweaty brow as you take stock of the 510hp under your right foot. I haven't been in any supercar that can pull off these marvels.
What price for such supercar-esque capability?
The XFR will set you back £65,380, certainly out of my price range and I'm sure ill-affordable for the majority of you, too. But, and I'm loath to use the word cheap here, it is something of a performance bargain when you consider that you will need to spend close to £200k to get into a Ferrari 458 Italia, nearly £250k for a Lamborghini Aventador and even £100k to get into a decent-spec Audi R8. With the XFR you're getting some of the thrills, more practicality and everyday usability for less.
And my point is?
If you need one car to do the jobs of many but want the thrill of a supercar there are alternatives to the traditional choices. Yes, the XFR is a compromise, as is every car below it, but the chasm of that compromise isn't the Grand Canyon you might expect in swapping from a Ferrari to a hot Jag. Of course, this is all nonsense, because if you've got that kind of cash to spend on a car, you'll have a fleet of motors anyway.
What would reside in your dream garage? Three cars, any price... share your comment below.
related stories on msn
Three cars I'd like in my garage
A Fisher Fury Menace with full on supercharged Hyabusa 1400 engine - that should sort out the sub 3 sec 0-60 time and my hooligan instincts.
An early (but low mileage and concours condition) Jaguar XKR to sort out the Classic Car desires for an aesthetically pleasing grand tourer.
A current edition top of the range Range Rover as daily driver and tow car for the Fury
Latest Cars videos
MSN Cars' Steve Walker takes the UK's cheapest new car for a test drive to see if it's worth parting only £5,995 for.
Date 23/05/13, Duration 4:17, Views 863