Jaguar XFR-S – First Impressions

My four-year-old daughter doesn’t like travelling quickly in the car. Whether it’s going around corners, through dips or over crests, she really doesn’t like it unless Daddy is driving very slowly. So I’m absolutely certain she’d hate it if Daddy bought a Jaguar XFR-S (oh, how I wish I could).

On the face of it, the XFR-S is an ideal candidate for a family car. It’s a large saloon with lots of space in the very nicely appointed cabin. It’s got all of the safety gear you need to keep your precious family as safe as possible. It’s also got enough boot space to easily swallow the necessary belongings for day trips and holidays. What more do you need from a family car?

What it also provides is a stonking great 5.0-litre V8 that can propel it forwards at ridiculous speeds. That’s 550PS and 680Nm being channeled through a slick eight-speed automatic gearbox to the rear wheels. None of that namby pamby four-wheel drive here, this is all about good old-fashioned rear-wheel-drive.

That big V8 will also happily propel the XFR-S sideways. It will do this with only the slightest encouragement and that turns roundabouts and T-junctions into a test of will. Can you exercise enough restraint when you flex your right foot? Or will you mash it to the carpet and revel in the feeling of the Jag’s rear stepping out of line, something it’s more than happy to do on cold, damp tarmac?

You only need to glance in the direction of the accelerator pedal and you’ll be doing 30mph so you really need to keep your wits about you when driving through town. The eight-speed ‘box shuffles through its lower ratios incredibly quickly and it’s all too easy to be travelling at naughty speeds if you’re not paying attention.

Once you’re out on the open road you discover that the acceleration is fierce, relentless and completely addictive. You may only be able to (legally) enjoy it in short bursts but you will want to enjoy that savage kick in the back time and time again. While accelerative forces try to shuffle your internal organs your ears are treated to the rich sound of eight cylinders bellowing through four exhaust pipes.

Then there are the looks. To my eye the XFR-S looks stunning in its metallic Italian Racing Red paintwork. It takes the sleek XF profile to a new level, making the XFR look quite mild in comparison. 20-inch Varuna alloys, even bigger air intakes at the front trimmed in carbon fibre, more prominent side sills, a carbon fibre rear diffuser and on the boot lid – yes, even more carbon fibre in the shape of a large spoiler.

Subtle? No, not at all, but if you want subtle you can stick with the XFR. OK, if you really don’t like the spoiler you can ask Jaguar to leave it off, but just bear in mind that it’s part of a functional aerodynamic package – Jaguar claim it reduces lift by 68 percent.

You won’t be surprised to hear that the ride is setup to be stiffer than the XFR but it’s the amount of changes that surprise. Both the F-Type and XKR-S have donated some of their components to improve the handling. There are also firmer springs, retuned dampers, stiffer rear suspension bushes and a recalibrated active differential. This is much more than a XFR with an ECU remap.

The suspension changes make the XFR-S feel much more alert and the front-end response belies the bulk of this large saloon. The revised dampers do a good job of rounding off the worst that the road throws at those big wheels and, while the XFR-S is unmistakably firm, it is far from uncomfortable. Which should help when the little ones are trying to get to sleep in the back seat.

So if you’ve got kids who are immune to motion sickness you should be able to find enough reasons to justify the Jaguar XFR-S as a sensible family car. Otherwise you’re going to needs reserves of willpower deeper than the Marianas Trench to resist the temptation to drive this car at the speeds it was designed to travel. Sadly that means I’ve got no chance, much to the relief of my daughter.

Jaguar XFR-S Specifications

Engine:5000cc V8 supercharged
Transmission:Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power:550PS / 542bhp
Torque:680Nm/
0-62mph:4.6 seconds
Top speed:186mph
CO2 Emissions:270g/km
Official Economy:24.4mpg
Price:£79,995

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Author: Chris Auty

Voted the Breakthrough Blogger of 2013 by SEAT and the Guild of Motoring Writers , Chris has lived and breathed cars since he was old enough to say 'faster'. With a penchant for hot hatches and an allergy to public transport, he would much prefer to drive a bad car than never drive at all. Fortunately his family has learned to put up with this obsession and the internet has provided a channel for his ramblings.

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