June 26, 2010-The Targa Trophy Triple Crown rally series finished its first event at the W Hotel in San Diego. This is ec's third year participating in the event, and this one is special because we've partnered with the Trophy as an official media sponsor.
Targa Trophy has made up quite a bit of ground in the four years since its inception. It began as a single event and has expanded to three individual events, hence the Triple Crown moniker. Initially beginning and ending in the Orange County/Los Angeles areas, this year it has expanded once again to include Northern California and Scottsdale, Ariz., in addition to SoCal.
The Trophy is open to anyone who wants to participate; you don't need some kind of high-powered exotic or even a European car to get in the running. Hell, all you really need is a car. The format is somewhat unique in that it isn't a trial of all-out speed. Event organizers pre-run a set course, noting their odometer reading at the end of said course as well as their overall elapsed time. For participants, the trick is coming as close as possible to their distance and time. So you don't have to really hang it all out trying to sustain the fastest possible speed. In fact, if you drive conservatively and consistently, you'll do much better in the long run. This helps encourage entrants to be courteous to their fellow motorists and effectively negates any sort of danger factor (not to mention keeping you off law enforcement radar).
In a field of no fewer than 73 entries, event number one's first-place finisher was Radoslav Kalla in his screaming orange Gallardo Spyder. "Targa Trophy did a great job and everything went very smooth," he says. "This was by far my best rally experience." Kalla's first-place schwag included a custom black diamond Targa Trophy pendant and around $6,000 worth of travel packages, automotive gift certificates-and even a free pass to a party at the Playboy Mansion.
Event number two will run from the W Hotel in San Francisco to the W in Silicon Valley-but if you're just reading about it now it's almost too late. No worries; you still have plenty of time to register for the final Desert Challenge event at the W Hotel in Scottsdale.
For more information, the official press releases, and points standings, visit europeancarweb.com or targatrophy.com. And if you think you've got what it takes to place, or just want to get out, have a little fun and enjoy your car the way it's meant to be enjoyed, reserve your spot at the Targa Trophy website.
Even though we weren't actually competing for the prize, being insecure magazine guys and all, of course we had to get a hot car to run in the rally. Mercedes turned us down for an E63 AMG-since the disaster on the Gumball a couple years ago, the mere word "rally" tends to strike fear into the hearts of auto PR types. But Jaguar did come through for us with the equally studly XFR.
When we learned an R-branded XF was in the offing, it was the first Jaguar in a long time that I really got excited about driving. And when I finally found myself in the hot seat, it didn't disappoint. Whereas the old Rs were simply supercharged versions of the standard V8 and pushed slightly north of 400 hp, the new R represents a third tier over the mid-level XF Supercharged. A massaged version of the standard supercharged V8 now pushes 510 hp and a great big slug of torque, 461 lb-ft peaking from 2500 to 5500 rpm. It also has such standard goodies as Adaptive Dynamics that analyzes body movement and steering inputs and adjusts the suspension accordingly for maximum stability, Active Differential Control to maximize traction (and believe me, you'll need it), and a thundering 14-speaker Bowers & Wilkins surround sound audio system.
In AMG-esque fashion, the thing is just a brute. Mashing the throttle from a standstill will smoke the rear tires for a split second before the active diff hooks up and launches you off the line. I couldn't stop doing it, it's just so much damn fun. Surrounding traffic seems to fall away like wind-blown leaves.
So it's fast. Even better, it's damn comfortable. The cabin is very well appointed and seems cosseting and inviting in a way many German cars simply are not. It may come down to the little touches, like the ignition button that pulses red like a heartbeat, or the way the rotary gear selector rises into your palm and the vents roll up and open. As though the car is actually aware of your presence: Hello sir, nice to see you again. Let's haul some ass, shall we?
And running up through the twisty bits the XFR remains poised and confident. It feels heavy, sure, because it is, but because of that fact the way it rails around bends sort of boggles the mind. Turning the drive selector one click past D puts you in S sport mode, and the transmission will wind closer to redline under acceleration and hold higher revs off-throttle for more spirited driving. Or you can just shift it yourself using the wheel-mounted shift paddles. Despite the fact that it's a true automatic, the gear changes are about as fast as they come.
Overall, it's a firebreathing, tire-shredding conveyance that remains comfortable and welcoming enough for your mom to drive.
2010 Jaguar XFR
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
5.0-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve, supercharged
Peak Power: 510 hp @ 6000 rpm
Peak Torque: 461 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
0-62 mph: 4.7 sec.
Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)
Fuel Economy: 15/21 (city/hwy)
To add a little personal flavor to our Targa coverage, we decided to pick one car from each leg of the rally that really stood out from the rest. Sort of as a representative of the kind of stuff you can expect to see on the events. For leg one, we chose Joey Seely's '85 Porsche 911 Carrera. It was one of the few vintage Euros that came out, is in beautiful shape, and since Seeley is one of the proprietors of BBI Autosport in Huntington Beach, Calif., it's been set up to run. It was reportedly hanging with a Pratt & Miller Corvette C6RS and a tuned-up C63 AMG in the twisties. And somehow we believe it. Look out for a feature in an upcoming issue.