20 Jan 2015

Jaguar XFR-S First Drive Review

I'm running a Jaguar XFR-S for a week. Here's my first drive review

Jaguar XFR-S
Jaguar XFR-S

The Jaguar XFR-S introduces itself like the bloke in a whacky tie at the office party. Bright blue, bodykit, deep chin spoiler, mahoosive rear spoiler, big wheels, exhaust note like a bull elephant in mating season.

Inside it's the usual XF fare but with accruements such as R-S logos in the seat headrests, dash and on the infoscreen, a carbon effect leather and blue piping (although you can spec red or ivory) in the seats and swathes of aluminium throughout.

You can buy an XF for a shade over £30k but this XFR-S costs £80k. It needs to be an awful lot better than the base 2.2 Diesel Luxury to justify that price tag, especially when you bear in mind the batty XFR, with the same 5-litre supercharged V8, costs just £65k.

Whilst the XFR looks quite a lot like the Diesel Luxury and has the same range of paint schemes available to it the XFR-S can only be ordered in Ultra Blue (garish), Italian Racing Red (garish), white, silver or black. If you order one in anything other than red or blue you are daft.

The whole point of this car is that it stands out. You can spec a much more subtle rear spoiler but why would you? That huge spoiler tells the world you've spent more money on your car than most people earn in three years - which is the point of a car like this.
Jaguar XFR-S
Jaguar XFR-S

So once you've told the world you've ordered a big, brash, fast Jag you want it to be an enjoyable experience, right? It had better deliver.

The XFR-S gets suspension that is 30% stiffer than the XFR's, huge brakes, 20 inch wheels, a firmer, more finely tuned steering rack, and that engine, whilst being the same 5-litre lump, has 550bhp - 47bhp more than in the XFR.

It also gets a unique rear subframe which is meant to improve grip and handling.

As long as you only use 10% of the throttle it goes and drives just like any other XF, which is to say it is very smooth and refined, very comfortable and it steers better than a 2 tonne saloon should.

But give it the beans and the XFR-S turns into the slavering monster that bright blue paint and huge spoiler suggest it is. It is insanely powerful.

On a dry, wide, flowing road it is fun, safe and brutally fast - and it'll spin the rear wheels at anything up to 60mph without trying particularly hard.

In anything other than perfect conditions you have to treat it with kid gloves or else it will catch you out again and again. Traction overcomes grip with such ease even Pastor Maldonado could drift it like a pro.
Jaguar XFR-S
Jaguar XFR-S

The fact the feedback, steering and brakes are as good as they are mean at least you can correct the frequent tail waggling episodes you'll encounter.  At 40mph on a wet road I pressed the throttle just a tiny bit more than I should have which induced a tank slapper that only experience gained from driving many powerful rear wheel drive cars saved me from a backwards excursion into a ditch. And probably the hedge and field beyond that.

If you're from the north of England you'll know what I mean when I say the Jaguar XFR-S will put hairs on your chest.

It does justify the additional expense over the XFR, and it does justify the £50k hike over the standard 2.2 Diesel Premium by dint of how it looks, how it drives and how it makes you feel.


Price - £79,995 
Engine - 5 litre, V8, supercharged, petrol 
Transmission - 8-speed automatic 
0-60mph - 4.4 seconds 
Top speed - 186 mph 
Power - 550 bhp 
Torque - 502 lb ft 
Economy - 24.4 mpg 
CO2 - 270 g/km 
Kerb weight - 1,987 kg
Jaguar XFR-S

Jaguar XFR-S

Jaguar XFR-S

By Matt Hubbard