A 300km/h superwagon? Yes, that's 186mph in an executive estate. Meet the Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake, the E63 AMG-chasing and Audi RS6-bashing British behemoth that can crack a metric triple-tonne with enough room to frighten your kids and the family pet.
Why has Jaguar built the high-performance XFR-S wagon? To give the ageing XF range a lift… and some lift it is. Read on for our full first drive review.
What’s the spec of the new Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake?
Until now, the Jaguar XF Sportbrake has been a rational affair, with its 1675 litres of cargo space, split-fold rear seating and flat flooring, powered by a bean-counter friendly diesel.
Now Jaguar’s turned this on its head with the most potent engine in its line-up: the 542bhp supercharged all-alloy V8 – and given it the R-S treatment.
That spells a monster 502lb ft of torque, as well as stiffer suspension, bigger brakes (380mm discs up front, or pay extra for ceramics) and a 0-62mph time of 4.8sec, just 0.2 behind the XFR-S saloon. Perfect for families in a rush...
It’s essentially an XFR-S saloon with a bigger stowage area?
Yes, but there are a few tweaks to the Sportbrake that had to made when transforming it from a diesel miser to a motorway mauler. Of course it has its own aero package, with the same gaping front bumper leading to a unique set-up at the rear.
What you can't see from these photographs is the difference in in the XFR-S Sportbrake's chassis set-up: the diesel estate has air suspension on the back axle to achieve ‘the desired blend of performance and comfort’. Instead, the R-S reverts back to steel coil springs at the rear, for greater compliance as part of a stiffer overall arrangement.
What’s the Jag XFR-S Sportbrake like to drive?
From the driver’s seat, you’d have no idea you’re in an estate, as the cabin identical to the saloon's: the grey leather with brightly coloured stitching, thick-rimmed leather steering wheel and reasonably bolstered seats. The driving position is pretty good, apart from slightly restricted visibility through that small rear windscreen.
Hit start, and the V8 growl is somewhat subdued: it won’t wake up your neighbours like an AMG that gives an auto-rev when it starts. It’s a strong exhaust note, but even when you’re pushing it, the R-S is still not quite loud enough for a lout’s car – the F-Type R Coupe, for instance, is as raucous as they come.
It’s clear, then, that the XFR-S Sportbrake estate is made for comfort as well as cracking the whip, and overall refinement is pretty good bar some wind noise at higher speeds. The ride is firm, as you’d expect, but there’s still a playful amount of roll, dive and squat yet it’s too jiggly in town and also at its 186mph top speed (which we did indeed test on our Nurburgring test pictured above).
As a performance car on the curves, it’s competent, but you can’t escape its 1875kg mass nor the steering’s inconsistency. It weighs up, but oddly so, with an uneven feedback that seems to fight you when it should be working with you. That makes fluid cornering difficult, as you have to wind the lock off instead of neatly and smoothly returning to the centre.
Same goes for the throttle: the response is good, thanks to that eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, but not as sharp as you’d think for a car with stats this good. It is amazingly capable and quick, though, as the lateral grip on the 20in Pirelli rubber has it hanging on beyond belief. Again, though, roll out of the throttle smoothly, and the engine switches on and of like a light switch. It's just not fluid enough, not quite as cohesive a package as an AMG, for instance.
And the price of the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake?
That’s the other point: its £82,000 asking price is £5k more than your pick of an RS6 Avant or E63 AMG estate, and both are much sharper to drive. There’s also no denying that the XF is a generation older than its opposition, and that a new model is due in 2016. That makes it hard to reconcile against its rivals, but it’s still a supreme wagon.
The Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake's 186mph (300km/h) v-max makes it the fastest production wagon on sale today, claims Jaguar, and is sure to embarrass many locals on German autobahns. Back home in the UK, it’ll prove a comfortable, capable and potent estate that loses none of the Sportbrake’s charm, has even better looks and is just as practical. Just don’t mention the fuel bill…