22 Sept 2013

2013 Jaguar XFR-S – second opinion

My Jaguar XFR-S review published last week.  Colin Hubbard drove the same car on the same day as me.  Here are his thoughts on Jag's super saloon - Matt

When the Lotus Carlton was launched in 1990 the police wanted to ban the 4 door hypersaloon with it’s crazy 377bhp and 177mph top speed from the public roads. How things have changed and now 500bhp isn’t enough, this is the story of the Jaguar XFR-S.
2013 Jaguar XFR-S in French Racing Blue

In the supersaloon horsepower race the turbo charger has brought massive decreases in emissions whilst upping the horsepower and torque to frightening levels. Jaguar already have the XFR with their thunderous 500 bhp 5 litre supercharged V8 but stiff competition from Audi, BMW and Mercedes has gone a level further so with Jaguar being British and not wanting to be defeated by the Germans they decided to re-assess the already hot XFR and add steroids in all the key areas.

The XFR is genuinely usable and supremely fast, especially as a base car but Jaguar have turned it up to 11 in RS guise.

Power’s up to 542bhp and torque up to 502 lb/ft so it’s now got serious grunt to take on the competition. This has been achieved by improvements to the intake and exhaust systems and revised mapping of the ECU to take advantage of the better breathing properties. The roots type twin vortex supercharger features water cooled intercoolers meaning the engine is fed cooler and thus denser air which is better for combustion. The exhaust system features an ‘X pipe’ in the centre section and near straight through rear pipes so it’s got sufficient bark to match it’s serious bite.
2013 Jaguar XFR-S in French Racing Blue

The XFR’s 8-speed gearbox has been utilised as it’s already up to the job but features quickshift and an auto throttle blipper on downchanges to keep the inner child happy smooth out the stepdown of gears through the gearbox and match engine speed for instant acceleration out of corners.

The chassis has not been forgotten and Mike Cross Jag’s Chief Engineer has been busy at the Nurburgring and Nardo in order to ensure James May is kept happy. It features 30% uprated springs and dampers along with revised front suspension knuckles and rear subframe to cope with the extra forces generated and precision required to keep the chassis and wheels flat to the ground The brake discs have been increased in diameter to 380mm front and 376mm rear and are clamped by some huge red calipers. To top off the chassis revisions Jaguar commissioned Pirelli to exclusively develop some 265/35 front and 295/30 rear tyres to wrap around the 20 inch Varuna Alloy wheels.

The exterior has been treated to a deeper aggressive front bumper with larger air intakes and a real Carbon Fibre front splitter, the side to some extended side sills and the rear bumper has been fitted with an extension to fit in the more defined rear Carbon Fibre diffuser. On top of the bootlid is a very DISCRETE rear deck spoiler which wouldn’t be out of place on a Mitsubishi Evo . I told you they had turned the the XFR up to 11, these changes increase the downforce by 68% to aid the stability of this beast which is electronically limited to 300kmh (186 mph (and no police threatening bans here)). Apparently with the limiter removed it can top 200mph!!
2013 Jaguar XFR-S in French Racing Blue

It comes in a restricted colour pallet of French Racing Blue (as in the pictures), Ultimate Black, Stratus Gray, Polaris White and Italian Racing Red. I would opt for black or red as in blue it looks too much like a Vauxhall VXR8 from a side profile with the lower side skirts.

On the inside the XFR is an excellent base with a beautiful interior and the changes to R-S are aimed at the younger more enthusiastic driver. It’s mainly a material change with R-S logos embossed on the seats along with blue piping and stitching (colour to match the outside on other hues). The seats feature carbon-leather on the sides which is real leather made to look like Carbon Fibre and does nothing for me. If you want Carbon Fibre then use it on the dash plastics and door trims and use the highest quality leather on the seats like in the F-Type, unfortunately it cannot be ordered without this. Luckily the lovely Alcantara headlining with it’s posh club feel and the view out of the rear window diverts your attention elsewhere.

To drive it is an experience, and a very pleasurable one at that. Press the start button and whilst the air vents are rotating that big ballsy lump fires with a small explosion. The gear selector knob also rises and you twist to select drive and make progress very smoothly and quietly at low revs, this isn’t a jumpy lumpy power plant, it has to remain true to the very core of Jaguar as a gentleman’s carriage.
2013 Jaguar XFR-S in French Racing Blue

Out onto some open A-road, foot down, carpet compressed and I get the gist of the performance figures, I can believe this car can hit sixty in 4.4 seconds but I won’t be getting anywhere near its top speeds today. Whist the R-S can be driven smooth, quiet and slow it can also raise hellfire, there’s a flap in the bulkhead that channels some of that fabulous induction noise into the cabin and the straight through rear pipes wake up above four thousand revs and with aggressive acceleration. The urge is instant with no lag like it’s rivals, instead you feel its instant kick, a bang in the back while it takes off. Having the windows down helps the sound reverberate into the cabin and what a sound, a bassy whoosh as the twin scroll supercharger quickly builds charge and when you back off the exhaust it crackles like an asthmatic satan.

In the corners it understeers as it struggles to cope with the weight of this big saloon car and the generous helping of power being applied via the road by the mechanical limited slip diff, the traction control system pulls in any excess power to a spinning wheel with undetectable control. Back off slightly, let the front end dig in to find some grip and smoothly ride the corner, the seats are hard but are coping admirably holding me in place in comfort but without any lateral movement. At this point it clicks that this can be a comfortable limo one moment and supercharged nutter bastard the next, I’m taking it close to the limit in supreme comfort and without sweaty palms.

The overtaking power this car posesses is phenomenal, the best real world figure is the 40 to 70mph and that’s demolished in 2.6 seconds leaving the plodders in it’s wake. And those oversized brakes come into their own when coming down from higher speeds, Jaguar maybe playing with carbon brakes on some ultra exclusive models but they work perfectly well on this 2 tonne road car and argue the case for steel over carbon disks.
2013 Jaguar XFR-S in French Racing Blue

You have to master the oversteer over time as the rear end is so planted and grippy, I would probably opt not to have the high boot spoiler to reign in the front to rear balance and be a little less ‘obvious’.

Whist talking to one of the Jaguar engineers he said that the XF has a stiffer bodyshell than the older XK which is fitted with a similar mechanic package and as a result the the XFR-S was a more stable and balanced cars at speed. It’s interesting that the £17k cheaper saloon car may be the better drive over the sports coupe and you can take your family along too (note: sick bags are not fitted as standard to this vehicle).

Slow down for a while to let my senses align with the real world and ordinary speeds and you notice the little things that make the base such a wonderful vehicle, the indicators are a perfect feel and noise, the stick has just the right modulation unlike our BMW for which I haven’t fully mastered after 2 years. The standard fit Meridian sound system is crystal clear even at speed and high volume but then it's rated at 825 watts and comes with 18 speakers and surround sound.

Now the test drives finished and I’m a little disappointed, not with the car but because it’s over. It may only do about 15 mpg but this is a car I would happily fill up with this in mind and take pleasure in getting that figure lower.  It's a smooth fast thundersaloon and at £17k cheaper than the XKR-S it’s a bargain.

The French Racing Blue colour would be too much after a week so I’d go for a red or black with the small lip spoiler and I can’t think of any options I would spec. At £80k it’s worth every penny!
2013 Jaguar XFR-S interior

2013 Jaguar XFR-S in French Racing Blue

2013 Jaguar XFR-S with Alcantara headlining

2013 Jaguar XFR-S rear seats

2013 Jaguar XFR-S front seats

2013 Jaguar XFR with its smaller spoiler

Article by Colin Hubbard