The car that Jag built

The Jaguar XF-R - the souped up version of the impressive XF that went down so well on its launch last year - has now reached British shores to something of a fanfare. Having driven it on a Spanish test track earlier in the year, we can agree that it's well worthy of the superlatives.

Forget the timing (yes, amid the gloom that engulfs the car industry right now, there is something unfortunate about a 503bhp five litre V8-engined saloon being unleashed on an suspecting market but what are you going to do?), this is a British (well, Indian-owned) success story.

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A car that throws its less showy hat - the front air intakes and small boot spoiler are a nicely understated nod to its capabilities - into the ring with the German big three and not only competes, but as an overall package, makes a very compelling case.

For while this car has grace and hushed elegance when carrying out its everyday tasks in traffic and at mid-range speeds, access to its latent power, capable of leaving a BMW M5 in its wake, is only a nudge from a leather driver's shoe away, overtaking with breathtaking ease. It hits 60 in 4.7 seconds and its 155mph top speed would probably be nearer the 200mph mark without its limiter. Inside, as with its less aggressive relation, comfort remains the priority. 

If the original characteristics of Jaguar involve a balance of refinement, good looks and bowel-moving speed, the XFR is an undeniable return to form. £59,000, www.jaguar.co.uk