Motor Heads Road Test: Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake

Normally when I sit down to write up a road test I have a stack of stats to sift through and a long list of spec options to write about. However, the XFR-S left me feeling rather different than most other cars, and that does include high performance cars too. Of course, the stats are good, and the options are great but there is something wholly more emotional about this car and it rather make all the normal facts and figures seem somewhat inadequate, this big cat needs a different approach.

Feelings

OK so let's talk about feelings! This is not something men normally jump at but when it comes to cars there are quite a few of us that are willing to show their emotional side. A road test can be many things, boring, interesting, painfully dull and mind-blowingly exciting. It can even leave you feeling proud and perhaps sad you don't own the car in question. Well the XFR-S left me with a whole raft of emotions, only one of which was negative.
Rather than dazzle you with figures it feels more appropriate to try to describe how it feels to be in this car and to drive it.


My first impressions as it was dropped off by the lovely folk at JLR was something akin to shock and awe. The Sportbrake is an imposing car, its not to say it's overly big but with all the diffusers, quad tail pipes and carbon trimmings it looked down right mean, and that front grille looks like it is ready to eat children. As you walk around it you notice more and more styling notes that show this is no ordinary Jag, not that any Jags are truly ordinary.


You then find yourself opening the drivers door to a real mix of worlds. First of all the interior is just as good as any top end car I have driven, it reminded me of my first drive of the Aston Martin Rapide the smell of leather and the total immersion in brand and comfort. However, because of the performance pedigree the XFR-S had more purposeful seats and there was no walnut in sight, in fact carbon fibre was the order of the day along with lovely flashes of the multicolored "R" badge dotted around the cabin.

Although I promised not to go on about trim options it is worth saying the Jag is well kitted out. Freeview TV, heated and cooled seats, multi zone climate control and a whole lot more. It might be a racer but Jag have not cut corners with comfort.

Power...Real Power

The R brand has always been used to show when a Jaguar has a supercharger and as someone "in the know" I have always found that a great badge. I adore superchargers for many reasons but mainly because of the instant power delivery, no hanging around for a turbo to spool up, the pull is right there from the start. I feel I should add, this all comes from a man with a turbo charged car so Im not completely biased.

From the moment you hit the start button the Jag makes it's purpose in life very clear, to deliver bags and bags of power. With a 5.0 litre Supercharged V8 kicking out 542 bhp I think it fair to say the XFR-S have fulfilled its goal

However, power on paper is not everything, that sort of power is not common but it can be found in the German car market as well as other places, it is the delivery that makes a car special. The Jaguar is certainly something special, when you hit that throttle hard all hell brakes lose, I actually have goosebumps as I write this. The noise, and torque delivery is just spectacular, ever gear you snatch is another thump of power and it will just keep going. One thing I took away from a week with the XFR-S was that you would bottle out long before the car ever did. 0-60 takes 4.6 seconds and it will top out at 186 mph....yes an estate car will do 186 mph. Yes you can drive it as a normal car and I did for much of my time with it, but when you unleash this cat you really need to be ready for some serious claws.


Family Time

I have a family consisting of a 3 year old and 10 month old, a Labrador and a wife in no order of preference. This means a visit to Oxford to see friends from rural Sussex does include carrying a fair amount of stuff. Test cars can often prove a challenge and sometimes we end up ditching them in favour of our trusty CRV but this time not only did everything and everyone fit in the car they fitted in happily and comfortably.

The contrast between the brutal performance and ability to offer a full family a level of comfort and safety uncommon in most cars it astounding. My daughter still talks about Daddies red car, it is now her favourite car of all time and although perhaps not quite in the all time bracket I do think this Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake has to be one of the best cars I have ever driven.

All Things To All Men

How many ways can I say this? You really can have your cake and eat it! This car is the equivalent to the rather politically incorrect desire for a wife that is a "maid in the living room, a cook in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom". Now, I do most of the cooking at home and also various housework jobs but in terms of a way to describe a this car that statement is perfect. It will ferry your family in comfort and safety, it will drive you to a business meeting without funny looks and when you want it too it is an utter beast; a true full fat power house.

Did I Like It?

The answer is, of course, yes. I loved it, I loved the handling I loved the power and brutal driving experience. But I also liked the fact it was not just another German car, it is different and there are not many about. I loved the flexibility and I even liked the colour.


Should I Buy One?

Well if you have about £150,000 then yes you should, without a second of hesitation. If you like power and don't want to compromise when you need to ferry people about then this is the car for you. If you have always had sports cars and need to get something to fit the kids in it is perfect. It would also make a great car for those people who own sports cars for the weekend and want to put the miles on something more robust.

The Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake is certainly my car of the year and possibly my career so far give or take the odd supercar.

....And what was my only negative feeling at the end of the test? You guessed it, giving this big cat back!

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