2012 Jaguar XFR (© Rick Wait)

2012 Jaguar XFR

Jaguar unveiled a 2012 model year refresh of its entire product line at the New York International Auto Show, and presented a pair of performance-boosted editions of those models. For the most part, the updates are minor — the all-aluminum frame XJ sedan, for example, has a redesigned interior and more available options, including a rear-seat massage function. With its current aesthetic in place, and selling well, Jaguar isn't taking any chances.

So the bigger news is in the XKR-S coupe and XFR, which inject a dose of tuner aggression into the brand. Intake ports and borderline ridiculous style choices, like the go-fast-red XKR's equally red interiors, ugly these cars up a bit. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It also calls attention to the brand's rising confidence, as its engineers try to lure the performance crowd, who, in past years, might have dismissed Jaguar as too classy to ever be truly powerful.

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More coverage from the New York Auto Show

2012 Jaguar XF & XFR

What is it? An update of Jaguar's sporty sedan.

What makes it hot? This is a Jaguar that wants to be a muscle car, and almost succeeds. So while the exterior now looks closer to the XJ, additional intake vents and a range of 18- to 20-inch tires bring a touch of menace. The XFR, on the other hand, is downright mean, with harder lines everywhere and even more vents, presumably in the service of its supercharged engine, capable of 510 horsepower and 461 lb-ft of torque (compared to 380 horsepower and lb-ft on the standard XF).

What concerns us? Is something lost when Jaguar's stately DNA mixes with the speed-metal soul of the Fast & Furious crowd? The XFR pulls it off by going full-tilt, and supplying the power to back up the look. The standard XF might be an unhappy medium, catering to a crowd that isn't worthy of Jaguar's classic cool.

How much and when? The entire line will be available this year, but specific dates and prices are yet to be announced.

Our verdict? By playing to a new audience, the XF sacrifices Jaguar's sense of velvet-rope exclusivity. Snobby as it sounds, that doesn't feel right.

Watch Video:  2011 Jaguar XF

2012 Jaguar XK & XKR-S

What is it? An update of Jaguar's coupe and convertible models.

What makes it hot? Unlike the XF, the XK retains Jaguar's sleek curves, and has a range of available paint schemes that recall the brand's old-school racing heritage. Then there's the XKR-S, with its ludicrous 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque, capable of zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, and a top speed of 186 mph. The base model boasts plenty of dynamic control features, while the XKR-S ups the ante in distinctly Jaguar fashion, including "bespoke software" for the active damping suspension.

What concerns us? There's not much to be worried about with the XK, or its performance-enhanced cousin. That is, until Jaguar announces the price.

How much and when? The entire line will be available this year, but specific dates and prices are yet to be announced.

Our verdict? All signs point to this being an instant classic, fitting neatly into this brand's storied lineage while also satisfying those drivers who crave speed but don't have to brag about it.

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Based out of the Boston area, Erik Sofge is frequent contributor to Popular Mechanics and Slate.com. He specializes in everything scientific and technical.