OCT 23rd 2014

Jaguar XFR‑S: Coventry's first 'super estate' proves quick enough for any Labrador

As a visual statement, the Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake makes no secret of its performance. Its 20ins wheels, deep front air intakes and large rear diffuser all point towards the kind of driver who’s often in a hurry (although, without the big wing of the saloon, it’s marginally more subtle than the four-door). So the chap in the RAV4, patiently waiting for me to vacate a parking space, probably wonders what the delay is. The truth? I’ve jumped into the Jag straight after colleague Chris-R and, given that he’s over a foot taller, am slowly whirring my way towards the steering wheel and pedals on the electric seat…

Still, it gives me time to take in the surroundings. Some commentators bemoan the new-for-2014 R-S Sportbrake’s six-year old XF cabin. Eventually soles touch pedals and I can press the engine start button. A flair of revs tells Mr RAV4 I’m about to hand over the parking space, while I’m treated to the visual theatre of rotating air vents and rising gear selector knob. Despite its age, it’s still a nice place to be. Especially with the R-S’s supportive bucket seats and leather-and-carbon trim.

The 5.0-litre supercharged V8 sounds great, sharing a bassy rumble with the F-type R that uses the same engine. It could actually get away with being a bit more audible in the XF. The 542bhp sledgehammer effect may not be quite the same once its wrapped in an XF estate body, but this is still a rapid machine: 0-60mph in 4.8sec and a top speed of 186mph confirm that. OK, the Audi RS6 and Mercedes E63 AMG may be quicker to 60mph – but who’s really counting once an estate gets below the 5sec mark? Certainly not the Labrador in the boot.

Jaguar XF-RS

Besides, it’s the in-gear acceleration where the R-S is at is most hilariously quick. It’s more accelerative that you’ll ever truly need, helped out by the excellent eight-speed ZF gearbox. It needs an autobahn to really make the most of it, but sadly we didn’t get anywhere close to one in our time with the car (although we did take it to the Paris Motor Show).

On smaller roads, the R-S proves nimble (for its size) with consistently good body and wheel control. Truth is, though, that you need to be very committed before you start to trouble the R-S’s limits – although with all that power, oversteer is a matter of self-restraint with the electronics switched off. Capable and assured are the kind of words that sum up its B-road performance – even in the horrible conditions we experienced (and which you can see in these rain-soaked images).

With a starting price of £82,495, the XFR-S Sportbrake gets within £10k of its bigger brother, the XJR. In other words, genuinely Big Jag money. But Jaguar only expects to sell around 100 of them in UK, so it’ll remain Big Jag exclusive too… 

Jaguar XF-RS

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