Jaguar has always had a reputation for deftly balancing a smooth, compliant ride, with capable performance under the whip, a combination unmatched by almost any other marque with the possible exception of its Bavarian rival, BMW. Although the Gulf Coast of the American Southeast may not seem like the ideal testing grounds for the 2013 Jaguar XFR-S, the fastest production sedan in the marque’s history, Motor Trend’s Arthur St. Antoine made good use of the big cat’s highway manners in an entertaining tour of the third coast, starting off at Sebring, the site of Jaguar’s first motorsports victory in the U.S. in 1955.
St. Antoine explains the historical significance of Sebring in Jaguar’s motorsports history, as in 1955, it represented the brand’s first American victory, with Mike Hawthorn and American Phil Walters taking the checkered flag in the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Leaving Central Florida, St. Antoine grows weary of the flat, straight roads that characterize the Sunshine State, but his curiosity is piqued by an alligator farm at the side of the road. A brief detour to see the gators at feeding time turns into a southern luncheon including, naturally, alligator, a culinary first for St. Antoine.
On his trek toward Texas, St. Antoine takes a tour of the Don Garlits Museum, with none other than “Big Daddy” himself giving the tour. After looking over some of the historic cars in the collection, St. Antoine challenges the 81-year-old drag racing legend to a drag race between Garlits’ V-10-powered Dodge Challenger, and the XFR-S. Not surprisingly, the Jag gets smoked by Garlits and the Viper-powered Challenger.
Finally, at the end of the journey, St. Antoine meets up with veteran hotshoe and Motor Trend regular Randy Pobst, who takes the XFR-S to its limits, laying down a 2:39.16 lap around the Circuit of the Americas. Check out the full video below, and don’t forget to catch Epic Drives every fourth Friday on the Motor Trend channel!