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2010 Jaguar XFR: The ultimate family car

Four doors and 510 horsepower - who could ask for more?
by: L.E. BASKOW, Sleek and sexy, the new KX raises the bar for performance coupes at a critical point in Jaguar's history.

'My name's Bond, James Bond. And these are my wife and kids. We're looking for a car.'

Although it's unlikely you'll ever hear such dialogue in a 007 movie, Jaguar has the perfect choice for a licensed-to-kill secret agent with a family - the 2010 XFR.

With its British heritage, Bond can stay loyal to the Queen. With its four doors, roomy interior and large trunk, he can take everyone on vacation. And with its rear-view camera, he won't run over toys left in the driveway by the children or Q.

But if a high-speed chase across the continent is suddenly required to save the world from evil-doers, the XFR is up to the challenge. Its supercharged 5.0-liter V8 pumps out an awesome 510 horsepower, reaching 60 miles per hour in a reported 4.7 seconds before topping out at a rev-limited 155. The cornering is flat and sure. And the big four-wheel-disc brakes will also stop the car at the edge of a cliff quicker than almost anything else that could possibly be chasing it.

In fact, the abrupt transition between routine and high-speed driving is one of the XFR's most remarkable traits. Driven gently, the Jaguar sedan is sedate and comfortable. But step hard on the gas and the car lunges forward with ferocious speed, immediately jamming the occupants back in their seats.

Only the best Bond films jump into their action scenes so quickly. Think early Sean Connery, not Roger Moore.

In fact, the 2010 XFR bears only a passing resemblance to the iconic Jaguars that came out of England in the Swinging 60s. The power bulge on the long hood recalls the XKE sports car, as do the well-bolstered leather seats. But the XFR has much more in common with the highest-performing sedans produced by Audi, BMW and Mercedes, including aerodynamic styling, excellent interior materials and the latest in comfort and convenience features, such as Bluetooth and touchscreen controls. The Aero Performance Package helps set it off from such competition with its large air dam, side moldings and rear spoiler.

There was a time when auto enthusiasts did not believe Jaguar would be keeping such company. When the company was British owned, its cars were plagued with reliability problems. Although such issues declined after Ford bought the company in 1989, the earliest models were more pedestrian than exciting. But that began to change when the newest ones began coming out in recent years, including the midsize XF sedan that was introduced in 2008 as a replacement for the aging S-Type.

Powered by a 4.2-liter V8 producing 420 horsepower, the XF drew rave reviews and won awards for reliability, heralding a new day for Jaguar. Adding the supercharged 5.0-liter ups the ante considerably. Especially when driven with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters in the manual mode, XFR feels like a true sports car - not a 4,300-pound family sedan.

Of course, all this refinement and power comes at a price - $80,000 and an EPA estimated 17 miles per gallon, to be exact. But such competitors as the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class cost as much or more, while not getting any better gas mileage.

Ironically, the XFR is coming out after Ford sold Jaguar to Tata Motors, the India-based company best known for making the cheapest car on the world, the microscopic Nano. Auto enthusiasts around the world are hoping the new owners can maintain - if not approved on - the gains.

No car or Bond film is perfect, however, and even the XFR is no exception. The touchscreen controls in the XFR are awkward, sometimes requiring changes between screens for simple adjustments. Larger drivers and passengers will also find the seat bottoms narrow, a problem not found in the sport seats offered by most other manufacturers.

But these shortcomings quickly fade to insignificance when the XFR is driven aggressively - especially with the Goldfinger soundtrack on the stereo.

Facts and figures

• Model: 2010 XFR

• Manufacturer: Jaguar.

• Class: Sport sedan.

• Layout: Front engine, rear-wheel-drive.

• Style: Four-door, five passenger car.

• Engines: 5.0-liter supercharged V8 (510 hp, 375 ft lbs).

• Transmissions: 6-speed automatic.

• EPA estimated city/highway mileage: 15/21

• Price: Beginning at approximately $80,000.