It is not an often heard phrase but I’ve driven a big angry Smurf.
Strange it may seem but that’s my overriding impression of driving the Jaguar XFR-S – though this may have been influenced by the fact that the car I drove was the same hue as Papa.
I believe that the colour is actually called French Racing Blue, and there are other colours available too, but the striking driving experience of the XFR-S deserves a paint palette to match. And since I’m not actually buying one and driving it every day (more’s the pity) the novelty never had time to wear off.
So on to aspects of the car that can’t be altered by one tick of the options list.
The angry adjective of my opening statement still holds true. The big Jag looks menacing in just about any colour scheme thanks to some extensive fettling of the exterior design.
It seems churlish to call the changes a body kit since normally the XF is one of the best looking and understated cars on sale today, but add ‘R-S’ to the end of the badge and everything changes. The looks tell everyone how quick this Jaguar is even if they have no interest in cars at all. And that’s just when you look at it from the front and ignore the huge rear spoiler. It all serves a purpose though as, combined with use of lightweight carbon-fibre, the exterior changes reduce lift by about two-thirds according to Jaguar.
This might seem a little boffin-ish so I’ll tell you the headline news from the marque which is that the XFR-S is the fastest and most powerful Jaguar saloon ever, and you can well believe it.
To give you the bare facts, the 5.0 litre supercharged V8 produces 550hp and 502 lb ft of torque. This beast of an engine propels the big cat from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and on to a limited 186mph.
It’s quick, very quick. And that’s an understatement.
But those power figures don’t mean this is a car that struggles around corners – remember that this is a Jag after all and anything less would by ungentlemanly.
There are few manufacturers in history that have a better reputation for sports saloons. The balance between having a car that handles well but is comfortable is so difficult to strike – but the XFR-S somehow manages it.
The comfort side is understandably not as good as the standard XF, it’s firmer and less adept at soaking up pot-holes. But it’s not uncomfortable in the slightest and will deal with town driving easily.
Crucially though, the Jaguar doesn’t come up short out on the open road. The handling has a lovely feel about it, precise and with a bite that allows the driver to quickly get the Jaguar into a corner on the right line and not have to take another stab at it. Even if you do get it wrong, you can correct either with the steering wheel or with the throttle such is the flexibility it all.
The handling ability of the XFR-S is remarkable and gives you a huge amount of confidence while still managing to keep the Jaguar as a day-to-day runner should you wish.
But the best thing about the XFR-S is not the epic quantities of power on tap. Nor is it the subtle blend of comfortable cruiser and snarling supercar. It’s the overall feeling of it all that gives the greatest impression.
The sum is greater than the total of its parts as everything blends together to create one of the best cars on sale today. The interior is still of the excellent XF spec, spacious and comfortable with lovely touches such as the rolling air vents and gear selection dial.
Set off and the Jaguar will pull away hard, shoving you into your headrest, whitening your knuckles as you grip harder to the steering wheel and generating such acceleration that it actually morphs your face . . . into what I believe is medically called a ‘huge grin’.
Fire through the eight-speed automatic gearbox until you come to a corner and then stamp on the brakes, which will attempt to throw you through the windscreen such is their stopping power. Then flick the XFR-S into said corner with excellent precision, feeling as though you are a superb driver even if you aren’t, and then power out, listening to one of the best aspects of the whole car – its noise.
The big V8 sounds as though they used the Spitfire as inspiration behind the acoustics and there is even a whistle of supercharger as an undertone. When you brake and change down it pops and bangs as you decelerate – the whole unit urging you to keep the rev needle hovering around the red-line until you run out of road when it rewards you for your commitment with that fantastic soundtrack.
As a driving experience, there are few better than the Jaguar XFR-S currently. Sure, there are better handling cars, more spacious ones, quicker models and better looking vehicles. There are few that bring so many high quality attributes together and even less that give you such a sense of driving theatre.
See our gallery of images of the Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake
Tech spec of the Jaguar XFR-S reviewed
On the road price Price: £79,995
Engine: 5.0 V8 Supercharged
Max Power: 550 ps @ 6500rpm
Max Torque: 502 Lb [email protected] 2500-5500rpm
Max Speed: 18 mph
Acceleration: 0-62 mph in 4.6 seconds
Claimed MPG: Urban 16.7, Extra Urban 32.8, Combined 24.4
CO2 Emissions 270 g/km
VED Band – M
Gross weight 2400 kg
Kerb Weight: 1987 kg
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