Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake (2014 - 2015): review, specs and buying guide
The handsome XF Sportbrake estate with Jaguar's most potent, 542bhp supercharged V8 and Nürburgring-developed chassis upgrades. What's not to like?
A departure from Jaguar’s traditional performance saloons, the XFR-S Sportbrake was unveiled at the 2014 Geneva motor show as the marque’s first RS-developed estate. Designed to go head-to-head with the likes of the Mercedes-AMG CLS 63 and Audi’s C7 RS6, it remains one of the loudest performance estates of recent years, both in terms of design and sound…
At its core is JLR’s ubiquitous 5-litre supercharged V8, identical in tune to the saloon with 542bhp and 502lb ft of torque. Sent to the rear axle alone through a snappy ZF eight-speed automatic and an electronic differential, 0-62mph happens two tenths slower than the saloon at 4.6sec, with top speed at 186mph.
Powertrain aside, Jaguar altered the rear diffuser and added a roof-mounted spoiler to improve aerodynamics on the estate body, adding a new anti-roll bar, stiffer bushes, new geometry and even a strengthened axle for a 30 per cent increase in lateral stiffness. The front end received updates too, with new wheel bearings and suspension knuckles further improving stiffness and feedback.
Our time with the XFR-S Sportbrake proved that these changes couldn’t quite lift it to the same heights as the sharp saloon, with more body roll than we’d like. Regardless, it's a remarkably transparent machine, with its limits very easy to determine. In our 2014 review, we said: 'The Sportbrake feels at home on roads less arrow-straight, too. The ride is on the firm side but the damping is very good indeed. Wheel control is assured and although you can feel ragged surfaces, the Sportbrake remains composed. Through long, medium-speed corners it feels terrific. There’s perhaps more body roll than you might expect and less grip than a BMW M5, but you can feel the limits very clearly and work around them with real accuracy.'
Electrical gremlins can occasionally make themselves known, but it's a solid machine overall. Its engine has been known to show signs of timing chain wear and skipping in cars with higher miles, but clattering and an increase in unusual sounds is an obvious early indicator. Water pumps can also fail, with various plastic and rubber components prone to degradation – these issues aren't specific to the Sportbrake though, or even the XFR-S for that matter, with owners reporting very few issues. Besides, its 5-litre V8 has made its way into so many models that finding spares is unlikely to be much of an issue – just try to keep that rare XFR-S Sportbrake bodywork intact.
While evo appreciates an eccentric, V8-powered estate, the general public didn’t respond quite as well. Loud looks, a high price tag and strong competition made the XFR-S Sportbrake a tough sell, with only 61 said to have been built during its short production run. Predictably, used examples are far from easy to come by, with auction sites seemingly the best place to look. Prices are hard to determine given the low number on offer, but in the region of £40,000 should be enough to secure a good example, with exceptional, low mileage cars likely to sell for around £50,000.
What we said
'Sadly, we never trouble the limiter but there’s no question that the Sportbrake is a fabulous car in which to munch through a long journey at high speed. The gearbox is smooth and very fast, the engine sounds deliciously potent and has that any-rev flexibility that conveys a sense of omnipotence, and the stability at high speed is superb. Add to that the typically Jaguar smooth, consistent steering weighting and a ride that is firm but still breathes with the surface and you can only conclude that the XFR-S Sportbrake is a very tasty proposition indeed.
The Sportbrake feels at home on roads less arrow-straight, too. The ride is on the firm side but the damping is very good indeed. Wheel control is assured and although you can feel ragged surfaces, the Sportbrake remains composed. Through long, medium-speed corners it feels terrific. There’s tons of oversteer to be had if you want it, but actually the Sportbrake is at its best when it’s hooked up and just teetering on the edge of a slide.
So the XFR-S Sportbrake is a seriously desirable superestate. The engine has just the right combination of smooth manners and brutality (although the delivery lacks a bit of top-end sparkle) and the chassis is controlled but can get down and dirty when you fancy it. It hasn’t quite got the control of an E63 AMG, nor the sharpness of steering response, and it’s a slightly less aggressive proposition than the saloon version. Even so, we’d like to spend a lot of time in this car.'
Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake specs
|5-litre supercharged V8