2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake first drive review

Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake first drive review

New high-performance estate delivers an appealing combination of big power and load-lugging ability

The XFR-S Sportbrake is Jaguar’s first high-performance estate. Unlike the XF saloon range, there’s no 503bhp XFR Sportbrake to provide a stepping stone between the sensible four and six-cylinder diesel estate models and the range-topping XFR-S, so if you want a V8-engined XF estate, it’s this full-house version or nothing.It’s a big leap up from the 271bhp of the next most powerful model in the Sportbrake line-up, the 3.0 V6 Diesel S, and there’s an equally yawning £30k price gap to the next most expensive six-cylinder model.Jaguar admits that it will sell only about 100 examples of the XFR-S Sportbrake (mostly in the UK) in its current life cycle, what with its thirsty V8 petrol engine and £80k-plus price tag.But there’s something strangely appealing about the concept of taking an inherently practical estate and turning it into a hot rod, in this case by bolting in the mighty 542bhp supercharged 5.0-litre V8 from the XFR-S saloon (and most recently the F-type R coupé).The R-S Sportbrake’s £82k list price makes it around £5k more expensive than Audi’s 552bhp RS6 Avant and just a few hundred quid cheaper than the 549bhp Mercedes-Benz CLS63 Shooting Brake. That’s ambitious pricing, given that it’s less powerful and is shaded on standing-start acceleration, especially by the all-wheel-drive RS6 (4.6sec to the Audi’s 3.9sec), although unlike its German rivals, the British car is allowed to run to a governed 186mph.Compared with the regular Sportbrakes, the R-S gets an aggressive body kit that is said to reduce lift and improve stability. There’s a deeper front bumper with larger air intakes at the front for improved engine cooling, a prominent carbonfibre rear diffuser and a bigger roof spoiler, while it rides on 20-inch forged alloy wheels and bespoke Pirelli P Zero tyres.Underneath, the standard models’ rear air springs have been replaced by steel coils and there’s a new rear subframe that contributes to a 30 per cent increase in lateral suspension stiffness all round. The XFR-S saloon’s adaptive damping, active electronic rear differential and stability control settings have all been adopted but recalibrated for use in the Sportbrake, too.

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