Let’s get the quick and dirty facts out of the way, shall we? We’ve got a 550 HP, 5-liter, supercharged V8 up front, sending power through a ZF 8-speed quick-shift transmission in the middle via rear-wheel drive. Wrapped around those rear tires are Pirelli Pzero 295 rubber. That’s a lot of tire on the ground, but to be honest, they’re only good in warm weather. During the winter months or getting into the cold weather, it gets a little sketchy. How does that translate into your driving experience? Here in the interior there’s a very traditional Jaguar interior as of the last couple years. It’s nice, everything is clean and well laid out. All your soft touch materials are prevalent. There’s an alcantara heading here. You just want to touch stuff in this car; it’s really fun.
Another neat feature about this model are the carbon fiber elements. On the exterior you’ve got a front splitter and real spoiler- both being very expensive so you don’t want to break those. Then you’ve also got a carbon fiber engine cover, which is sort of a fun party favor if you want to show off to your friends. That theme continues on the interior with these carbon fiber weave armrests and also the seat inlets. The treatment is just a way to make the car feel unique and special.
In terms of the technology, it feels a little dated. There doesn’t feel like enough redundancies for the buttons; there are few buttons and it keeps things clean but I think BMW has it right in terms of having volume knobs and having all the main functions you’re going to need being tangible. Jaguar has kept it really slender and that means that some of the functionality you’ll only have through the infotainment setup, which would be fine except that things are really slow and lagging. I think that needs to be updated a bit.
Let’s talk about the one thing you’ll actually care about in this car. Performance. You can leave it in drive and you can access 99% of the performance pretty much anytime. That’s really going to help the “buyer” of this car. They’re not producing many of these, so when they do sell them to people, they’re going to sell to business exec’s who just want to cruise around town, enjoying the comforts of a luxury vehicle, but also smoking people at lights. This car can do that, and you never have to leave the normal “drive” mode.
Now if I was to switch this into sport mode, and then hit the racing mode … it most certainly goes, quickly. The illusion of speed is sort of kept away from you for the most part and that’s because it’s quiet in here. It’s really quiet, and that means that Jaguar spent time refining this vehicle. It’s not something that’s going to be blaring loud all the time.
In terms of lateral movement, it’s pretty tight which is nice, but the suspension isn’t jarring. It’s not trying to kill you, which is why this drives like something that anyone can use on a daily basis. You’re not driving a super sports car with suspension that is rocky as rails.
This transmission also deserves to be praised. This quick-shift system is a total departure from anything else I’ve tested in terms of semi-automatic capabilities. You can cruise and it’s just going to work in the background like a normal automatic, but if you switch it over to sport mode and you want to control precisely how much performance you achieve, it has no problem doing that. It lets you take control and in sport mode, it doesn’t even let you access the 7th and 8th gear. It kind of closes them off so you’re working with the first 6 to use all the power that’s available there. It’s an intuitive system. It’s really fantastic.
The more time I’ve spent with this car, one metaphor keeps popping in my head. It’s like stuffing Dwayne the Rock Johnson in a suit. Yes, you can pretty him up a bit, you can teach him manners and send him off to a dinner party. He’s going to have a conversation, he’s going to be cordial, but still… if he gets pissed off and he wants to fight you, he’s going to tear that suit off and he’ll kick your ass. That’s what this car is. It’s a dual personality. They’ve taught it manners. They’ve refined it. They’ve put a lot of thought and effort into the quality of the vehicle, but they also shoved a 5 liter supercharged V8 under the hood. That engine just destroys pretty much anything else on the road. Now granted, in the winter, if you mash your foot on the throttle you’re going to go sideways whether you’re in sport mode, normal, comfort, whatever. You’ve got to be careful. You’ve got to respect the beast.
As you’ve gathered by now, I really like this car, but its not perfect. There are a few things that I think should be improved. One of them is sort of the general technology. As I mentioned, the infotainment system feels a little slow, a little sluggish, but I also think there should be some cool tech. built into the car at a $100,000 price point … like heads-up display. I drove the new Corvette C7 and that car, at a $55,000 price point, has a heads-up display and it’s a damn good one too. In a car that costs twice as much, you should incorporate that tech. Installed, heads up display puts the important information for a guy or gal who is driving it somewhat aggressively right there in his or her eyesight.
Second, the wheels. I think they are a little … not tunerish, but they look like something upgraded in a less premium vehicle. They’re big, but they don’t look like they fit this car.
Finally, and again, this is me being picky here, but the steering wheel is the right size and thickness, but it’s missing one small element: sport grips. I had a 2007 GTI and it had sport grips and that felt like a wonderful steering wheel just because it had a place for your hands to slot into at 9 and 3. For something like $3, Jaguar could make this wheel perfect.
To the takeaways. This really is an excellent vehicle and Jaguar has done several great things with this car. It’s refined. It’s aggressive. It is unique. During the short time that I’ve had this car, maybe 10 different people have come up and said, “What is that? It’s such a nice car.” That’s because it looks business, but it’s also sort of a mystery. People can see that it’s not your average vehicle, not just your average mid-sized sedan. As soon as I tell them it’s got 550 HP, they understand; it has that dual quality, that dual characteristic that makes it such a special car. This is everything you could ever want in a sports sedan. I want it. I’m not going to give it back, actually.