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Jaguar XFR-S

 

Take the high-performance Jaguar XFR, add 30kW/55Nm and a whole lot more handling and braking ability, and you have the XFR-S. Warning: spoilers ahead.

Base price: $185,000.

Powertrain and performance: 5.0-litre supercharged petrol V8, 405kW/680Nm, 8-speed automatic, rear-drive, Combined economy 11.6 litres per 100km, 0-100km/h 4.6 seconds.

Vital statistics: 4961mm long, 1460mm high, wheelbase 2909mm, luggage capacity 500 litres, fuel tank 70 litres, 20-inch alloy wheels.

We like: Old-school supercharged V8, accomplished chassis, good value for money.

We don’t like: Thirst, cabin showing its age, clunky infotainment system.

How it rates: 8/10

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? After the sound and fury of the F-Type as it has launched in convertible and coupe forms over the last 12 months, the XFR-S is proof that Jaguar can still do high-performance motoring in a subtle way.

The $185,000 XFR-S sedan is the same price as the flagship F-Type coupe R and has the same engine: a storming 405kW/680Nm supercharged V8 that puts it firmly in the super-sedan league. It has 30kW/55Nm more than the XFR – itself a pretty hot machine.

Yet you wouldn’t necessarily look twice at the XFR-S, which looks very similar to any other upmarket XF. It wears bespoke bumpers and body kit, slivers of carbon-fibre trim and black finish on the grille and window surrounds, but it’s actually pretty low-key.

It doesn’t even sound that loud; there’s a nice V8 rumble under load, but it’s nothing compared to the window-shattering soundtrack of the F-Type R.

None of this is intended as a criticism. The XFR-S is very much a super-sedan for grown-ups: it still has extreme performance and handling capabilities, but just doesn’t need to shout about them. Stealth brings its own sense of pleasure.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? Jaguar’s supercharged V8 is pretty old-school compared with new-generation powertrains coming from rivals like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. It’s an oldie but still a goodie, with the instant surge of torque you get from a supercharger and the very best of brutish muscle when you’re pressing on.

Old-school is cool, but it does come at a cost. A big V8 with a supercharger cannot be thrifty and the XFR-S is no lightweight at 1875kg, so the official Combined fuel consumption of 11.6 litres per 100km is really the best-case scenario on a 100km/h trip. We averaged 15.6 l/100km in a week of mixed running and that’s probably an indicative real-world figure if you’re going to enjoy this car. If not, why have it?

The XFR-S does have its share of high-tech driver aids. Like the XFR is gets adaptive dynamics and an active differential, while the S steps up to a more powerful braking system and even stiffer sports suspension.

The XFR-S still corners will all of the finesse you’d expect of a Jaguar sedan. It certainly doesn’t have the tail-out leery feel of the short-wheelbase F-Type R, although you can let the chassis have a bit more leeway by selecting the dynamic mode for the stability control, which brings up a little chequered flag graphic on the dashboard. Says it all, really.

This car is so composed, you can’t help but wonder just how nimble it might have been if Jaguar had forged ahead with plans to make it out of aluminium. It’s doing just that with the forthcoming XE compact-executive sedan, so the promised 300km/h high-performance version (probably a V6) should be quite something.

IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? Relaxed performance and a still-decent ride make the XFR-S very easy to live with. It’s a big car, remember – nearly five metres long. So there’s plenty of space for adult occupants front and rear.

However, the XF dates way back to 2007 and the interior design is looking a bit tired. It’s still beautifully finished with soft-grain leather and stainless steel, but the signature XF ‘handshake’ features such as the blinking stop/start button (like a heartbeat), the rotary gearlever that rises from the console to meet you and the air conditioning vents that lock shut and wake up automatically are all seeming a bit gimmicky now. Perhaps they always did.

The infotainment system is also badly in need of an upgrade. You get sat-nav, full iPod integration and even control of the heated/cooled seats through the touch-screen, but the graphics look clunky by 2014 standards and the system can be slow to respond to commands.

There’s plenty of luxury, including an awesome Meridian 825-watt sound system. But a lot is still optional, including gas-discharge headlights, blind-spot monitor, ‘JaguarVoice’ control, television and tyre pressure monitoring. It’s all stuff you might assume is standard on a car like this.

It’s pretty hard to fault the driving position and/or seat comfort, though. The cabin could do with some sprucing-up, but travelling in the XFR-S is still a feel-good experience.

SHOULD I BUY ONE? It’s perfect for the gentleman racer. The XFR-S is feeling its age in a few areas, but it’s also still an entirely convincing rival for the likes of the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. Arguably more charming too, not to mention good value for money compared with the German establishment – notwithstanding that the XFR-S is not as comprehensively equipped (see above).

The XFR-S is a car that gives you very warm feelings as you’re rocketing down the road. It’s still not a car to attract too much attention, which is a good thing. Although we’d be tempted by the giant rear wing that’s available on this model (it’s a delete-option in favour of the smaller spoiler on our test car). It’s okay to boast just a little bit.

EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST

  • Air conditioning: Dual climate
  • Audio: CD, iPod compatible
  • Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes
  • Blind spot warning: $1100
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Cruise control: Yes
  • Driver footrest: Yes
  • Head-up display: No
  • Heated/ventilated seats: Yes/Yes
  • Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
  • Lane guidance: No
  • Leather upholstery: Yes
  • Parking radar: Front and rear with camera
  • Power boot or tailgate: No
  • Power seat adjustment/memory: Yes/Yes
  • Rear ventilation outlets: Yes
  • Remote audio controls: Yes
  • Satellite navigation: Yes
  • Seat height adjustment: Yes
  • Self-parking technology: No
  • Split/folding rear seats: No, 60/40 split optional for $1150
  • Steering reach adjustment: Yes
  • Stop-start: Yes
  • Trip computer: Yes

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