2014 Jaguar XFR-S Review

Jag’s sporty cat is aging but still has plenty of fangs left
Imthishan Giado

Jaguar XFR-S

Not pictured in Dubai, obviously.

Jaguar’s XFR is one of those cars I’ll always have a soft spot for – it was the second car I ever drove as a official motoring journalist. The first was a Ford Mustang which meant this was a bit like going from Melissa McCarthy to Megan Fox; the XFR was umm, that much sportier, if you get my drift.

Giving Megan Fox a more ample bosom can only improve her appeal (if not her films) and so it goes with the XFR-S, power being bumped from 503bhp and 461lb ft to 542bhp and 502lb ft.

Surely that can only make it better, right?

1)   You won’t notice the extra power. The XFR-S weighs an inexplicable extra 112kg over the XFR’s 1875kg base weight so the additional bhp barely registers, more as a sort of additional push at the very top of the rev range.

2)   It’s still mentally quick, though. 0-100kph drops from 4.9 to 4.6 seconds, the top speed is now a derestricted 299kph and when you drop the hammer (in sport mode – regular D can dull the throttle response slightly) the supercharged V8 bellows like the sound of an incoming tsunami before launching you into the horizon. The blower doesn’t really get out of bed before 2500rpm, but don’t be fooled; with a fearsome midrange this remains one of the fastest accelerating saloons out there, nearly on par with the four-wheel drive dragons from Ingolstadt.

Jaguar XFR-S

Still not in the UAE….

3)   The handling remains sublime. Unlike just about everything else in this class, the XFR-S retains its hydraulic steering and it’s a thing of beauty; no slop to be found, good on-centre feel and precise feedback coupled with balance so good you’ll want to cry mid-corner, make the XFR-S a lovely thing to pilot. The brakes could do with a smidge more ultimate stopping power, but it’s a small complaint; the XFR-S loves the twisties, and you’ll love driving them.

4)   But it’s not a track car. Despite what Jaguar are telling you, and despite the fact that the steering is so good, it doesn’t have the sort of ultimate precision that marks a 911 or – ugh – a Panamera out from the herd. Instead, what the burly Jag really wants to be is a drift car; it’ll make smoke as long as your local AutoPro can keep slapping on new tyres, and pull shapes as long as you have run-off room.

5)   It really, really needs a new interior. When the XF first came out in 2007 the electroluminescent lighting in the interior was modelled after the then-fashionable teal-tinged keypad of the Motorola RAZR, which gives you an idea of how old it feels.  Unlike recent Astons the Jag feels well made, but there’s little surprise-and-delight, the navigation screen is too small and too slow…bottom line, you’ll be jealous of your Range Rover owning neighbour.

6)   It doesn’t need new seats. How does Jag do it? The seats are perfectly sized for my bottom, no matter how long and short the journey you always arrive refreshed. And you don’t slide around in the bends either, the bolsters holding you without digging into your sides on the straights. Gotta give a big thumbs up to the stereo as well: the Meridian setup is light years ahead of the old Bowers & Wilkins stereo with crystal clear reproduction and perfectly judged levels. The only thing better – period – is the Burmester system you get in the Mercedes S-Class. And it would be a very close run thing indeed.

Jaguar XFR-S

Where *does* Jag shoot these cars, anyway? HDR-land?

7)   Being old doesn’t mean it isn’t damn near perfect. Here’s the thing. On paper, the car isn’t as fresh-looking as the German competition. It lacks the billion driving modes of the BMW M5, it will be left behind by the outright pace of the Audi RS6 and isn’t as grippy as the 4WD Merc E63.

But in the real world – the one not on a racetrack or measured by test track numbers – the XFR-S is fast, comfortable, composed and confident whatever you throw at it. Sure, the XFR is nearly as good. But when’s the last time you felt like settling for a ‘nearly as good’?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

2014 Jaguar XFR-S

Price: AED 469,000 ($127,685)
Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8, 542bhp @ 6500rpm, 502lb ft @ 2500-5500rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Fuel Economy: 9.63L/100km (Est)
Performance: 0-100kph 4.6 seconds, Top speed 299kph (Est)
Weight: 1987kg

 

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