Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake

Meet the 180mph dog-carrier that’s blessed with many other fine features

The market’s constant craving for more of everything has resulted in Jaguar introducing this Sportbrake XFR-S, a car with the same power as a Jaguar XJ220 and a greater carrying capacity than the largest Volvo estate.

And if that sounds pretty tempting, the reality is not a lot less so. The idea of a car capable of carrying a brace of Labradors at more than 200mph (as this one undoubtedly would, were all its electronic limits removed) is hardly new – Mercedes has been doing it for years. But Jaguar’s take on the theme is subtly but significantly different.

Whereas others appear to have made a high-performance car out of an estate, Jaguar seems to have tried harder to create a fine-handling and genuinely sporting car that just happens to be unusually practical. The result looks similar, but the emphasis is different.

For all its family-friendly credentials, this is a car with a full complement of those nuances and the sophistication we now expect from high performance Jaguars. Its handling is for instance beautifully damped, maintaining its ride height on self-levelling rear suspension over the worst undulations and apparently almost regardless of load. The ride is exceptional, too, despite those vast wheels and liquorice tyres.

As for the performance, the XFR-S didn’t feel that fast and for once I see this as a positive thing. Make no mistake, the power is all there and you need only look at the sweeping arc of the speedo needle to know it. But it is not overt or brutish in the way you’d imagine any car might be with a 5-litre supercharged V8 doing the talking. Its delivery is even, its voice just loud and rich enough to do justice to the car’s positioning without ever being an irritant. In all regards, given the raw material at its disposal, Jaguar has done a fine job.

And I’d like to leave it at that, but I can’t. For this is a car that costs £82,495, a fact that should be remembered in the context of the entry-level XF priced at less than £30,000. And while the cabin is outstanding for a car of this lower price, no amount of additional brightwork can make the same hold true at nearly three times the money.

There are other problems as well.

A 70-litre tank might be just fine with a tiny 2.2-litre four-cylinder sipping diesel at 57.7mpg, but when there’s a vast V8 gulping unleaded at 22.2mpg, it’s nothing less than inadequate. On your dream drive from home to the South of France or anywhere else not very near, you’d be beaten hollow by your neighbour in his standard diesel XF (or Ford Focus hatchback, for that matter).

If this is of little or no importance, buy away because the XFR-S is a well realised example of a genre I’ve loved since I drove my first BMW M5 Touring, 20 or more years ago.


Engine: 5.0 litres, 8 cylinders, supercharged
Power: 542bhp@5000 rpm
Torque: 502lb ft@2500 rpm
Transmission: eight-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph: 4.6sec
Top speed: 186mph
Economy: 22.2mpg
CO2: 297g/km