'Jaguar chief engineer, Vehicle Integrity' is Mike Cross's official job title, but within the automotive world he's known as a legendary test driver. And he's the man charged with sharpening the claws of the thrilling new supercharged Jaguar XKR and XFR.

"We've focused on ensuring that these cars have a totally new level of dynamic performance," says Mike.
The supercharged XKR and XFR are the first production Jaguars to highlight this new R focus. Last year's limited-edition XKR-S, with its sensational handling capabilities, showcased the harder-edged side of the new R. The new XKR and XFR ensure drivers of these sports and saloon cars enjoy the latest technology.
It's the total package that sets them apart from the competition and their predecessors that wore the iconic red, green and chrome ‘R' badge. As well as the engineering integrity in the shape of an all-new 5-litre V8 generating a mighty 510PS (503bhp), there's been a total dynamic overhaul of the technology in the cars. There's an all-new Adaptive Dynamics suspension that monitors and varies the damping 100 times a second for more precise body control. There are more powerful brakes, new wheels and tyres, the already class-leading transmission has been optimised to offer faster shifting, and a new electronic, technically advanced active differential provides greater traction and delivers breathtaking agility through the curves.
"They are as quick, if not quicker than any rival out there," Mike explains. "But their performance is delivered in a true Jaguar way - it's more accessible.
"Even though we're deliberately making the new R models much more dynamic, these cars are refined and comfortable and have a unique duality. It means that when you step on it they become remarkably responsive, very fast and extremely rewarding, but never intimidating or tiring."
"The combination of immense power, refinement and driveability is what our customers now expect of one of the Jaguar R cars," says Mick Mohan, director, Jaguar Programmes. "Despite having more power than a BMW M5, the supercharged V8 is exceptionally smooth around town. But when you want to drive quickly, it's hugely responsive and delivers that classic Jaguar sound quality – that muscular growl at higher revs."
The engine in a modern super high-performance car needs to be more than just powerful, though. It needs to have lower emissions and better fuel economy, and the new engine delivers both those attributes.
Ian Callum, Jaguar design director, says the R badge should denote “the ultimate expression of Jaguar's new design language” carrying visual design cues that are intrinsic to Jaguar's new R philosophy. In the case of the XFR, that means a fresh front design with a larger, lower mesh grille opening, unique outboard bumper air intakes, new side-sill extensions and a new rear bumper design. 20-inch alloy wheels and quad tail pipes complete the look. The XKR also benefits from new wheels, bumpers and quad exhausts that confidently signal the new R direction - which Ian describes as “muscular performance. Visual muscle as well as performance muscle."
Mike O'Driscoll, Jaguar's managing director, agrees: "We're placing a greater emphasis on R. The focus offers drivers a whole new level of driving enjoyment, new technologies, more distinctive design, truly exhilarating performance and sharper driving dynamics, all with added efficiency. This is the new R."

[Issue 1, 2009]

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