The Jaguar XFR-S is a response to the German super-saloon power war. Since the standard XFR was launched in 2009, BMW’s released a twin-turbo 552bhp M5 to huge acclaim, only recently outdone by the new Mercedes E63 AMG. Switching from a normally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 to a 5.5-litre bi-turbo, the Mercedes musters up to 577bhp – and that’s before you’ve considered the CLS63, or Porsche Panamera Turbo S…
To fight back, Jaguar has equipped its flagship saloon with the uprated version of its supercharged 5.0-litre V8 from the XKR-S, good for 542bhp and 502lb ft. It’ll hit 62mph in 4.4sec, is limited to 186mph flat out, and returns the same claimed economy as an XFR. But can it really be worth £15k more than an XFR, at £79,995? And is it a true M5-slayer? Read on for the complete CAR verdict.
What else has changed between Jaguar XFR and XFR-S?
A new bodykit, with a bespoke front bumper, rear diffuser, and mercifully optional bootlid spoiler – with or without the rear wing, lift is reduced by 68% versus the regular XFR. You get a new design of 20in alloys, the eight-speed automatic gearbox from the F-type, and there's stiffer suspension too. The electrically adaptive limited-slip differential is another F-type carryover, as are the wheel bearings. Brakes are standard XFR items.
Aside from new fabrics and R-S badges inside, it’s standard XFR. It’s still a welcoming cabin crammed with thoughtful attention to detail, but it’s neither as spacious nor as tech-heavy as its German rivals.
Does the Jaguar XFR-S feel noticeably faster?
It certainly sounds it: there’s more muscle car backbeat than an XFR can muster, and there are subtle, violent undercurrents of supercharger whine too. If it sounds more explosive, it certainly feels it, the extra power and closely stacked eight-speeder conspiring to throw you down the road at eye-widening pace, your head involuntarily squashing into the headrest, fingers tensing around the steering wheel.
Up-shift at high revs and the acceleration feels endlessly linear, like someone’s thrown a towrope onto a passing asteroid and you’re being dragged along behind it. It’s a visceral sensation augmented by gearshifts that are smooth at a mooch but thunk with mechanical precision when you go hard.
Is the handling spoiled by the extra power and revised set-up?
Press the Dynamic button and the suspension tightens and the throttle sharpens, but it still manages to work on the road where German set-ups get OTT crashy. Yes, it is firm, it’s busy, but it’s perfectly usable.
Turn in to faster corners and the front end feels sharper than before, the slight smudge of the XFR replaced with a bite of intent, the steering that once lightly twirled now feeding back a chunkier, more defined kind of meat, the body feeling flatter, more together. Feed in the throttle progressively and there’s a hyper-responsive tippy-toes feeling from the rear – you’re balancing it right on the edge. Get to the next corner and flatten the throttle and that tippy-toes feeling turns into a fast slide, one that you tweak any which way you like thanks to an abundance of power.
Is it too hardcore for most drivers now?
No – what’s particularly impressive is that the XFR-S does exactly what Jaguar intended, building on the XFR’s strengths without compromising any of its usability or cruisey refinement, where the harder, faster XK models can feel too stiff and a bit too manic.
Perhaps the trickiest thing about the XFR-S is the price, at £80k a chunky £15k more than the XFR, and £6k more than the M5 and E63. Factor in the M5 Competition Pack and E63 S, and you are back into similar money, but those cars again move the goalposts by piling on a little extra performance, Jag hitting back with what’s likely to be a lower final spend on optional equipment, the Germans parrying with better mpg and CO2 figures.
If you’ve got deep pockets though, you can be sure your XFR-S builds on the driver-pleasing fun of the regular XFR, without compromising its usability.