2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 5.0 V8 S/C review – A 542 BHP Practical Monster

Immensely fast and powerful, beautiful soundtrack, comfortable & luxurious cabin, lots of boot space, surprisingly fuel-frugal

Outdated touchscreen system, new interior 2015 will be nicer

Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake?

Practical and luxurious Jag XF Sportbrake with a 542 horsepower 5.0 litre supercharged engine - 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 5.0 V8 S-C review

What do you get when you frankenstein together a perfectly practical and luxurious Jag XF Sportbrake with a 542 horsepower 5.0 litre supercharged engine and sports suspension? A monster, of course. Yes, the handsome but rather unassuming XF estate has been taken, experimented on by Jaguar’s mad scientists, and they’ve essentially created a Hulk version. We were sent the 186 miles-per-hour-capable 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake to see what happens when you make one angry…

Exterior. Butt-ugly or beauty?

Front 3/4 view of the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 5.0 V8 S-C

The Jaguar XF is decent-looking thing even in standard guise, and should you want one that combines class with sportiness seamlessly, Jag do that beautifully too. However, I’m a big fan of estate versions of cars and the XF Sportbrake is no different, providing all the practicality of a big boot whilst retaining good looks.

In the case of the XFR-S Sportbrake, Jag took a standard XF and made the car look kick-ass hard, but to the average onlooker it’s simply a sporty estate, and they’ve no idea of the ultra-potency it possesses. In the design department, the R-S Sportbrake easily rivals other fast estate model ranges like Audi RS Avant, BMW M5 Touring and Mercedes-Benz AMG Shooting Brake.

Side view of the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 5.0 V8 S-C

So, what differences are there to other Sportbrakes? It’s certainly much more aggressively styled than its siblings, and firstly you’ll perhaps notice the lower stance (a 10mm difference), and huge 20-inch rims which fill the wheel arches perfectly. Behind those are red brake callipers over the 380mm discs – part of Jag’s High Performance Braking System. The front air intakes in the bumper are massive, there’s a lower front splitter made from carbon fibre, an all-black grille with R-S badging, and perhaps the coolest and most noticeable thing to set the XFR-S apart: bonnet cooling louvres with ‘Supercharged‘ stamped into them.

Close up view of the front wheel and discs on the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 5.0 V8 S-C

Down the side there are pumped-up side sills, and aeroblade mouldings behind the front wheels serve to create a sharp break-off point between the lower bodywork and the road surface in order to keep the airflow attached to the car’s sides for as long as possible, the deeper side mouldings behind the rear wheels acting in the same vein.

Rear 3/4 view of the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 5.0 V8 S-C

At rear there’s a subtle but effective roof spoiler, a touring-car-sized rear diffuser made from carbon fibre which reduces rear lift, and there are polished quad exhaust ports too – always a sign that a car contains a beefy engine. Blacked-out rear glass finishes things off nicely, and gives the roof and almost floating appearance thanks to the gloss black C-pillars.

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Over the time I had the XFR-S Sportbrake on test it drew a ridiculous amount of attention, whether parked up or roaring along, with the petrolheads clearly defined by their ear-to-ear grins and excited exclamations as they clapped eyes on the R-S. This isn’t just because of the looks, but the fact that you’re lucky to see one of these on UK roads as they’re such a rarity.

Overall though, the XFR-S Sportbrake is an awesome-looking machine which pulls absolutely no punches about its formidable performance. On exterior looks alone, I want one quite badly.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

Drivers cockpit dials steering wheel on the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 5.0 V8 S-C

The R-S Sportbrake interior is almost identical to the higher-end XF models, with only minor differences such as the front seats having R-S logos, carbon-pattern leather trim on the doors, arm rests and seat bolsters – though I think this looks a bit tacky – and you get a choice of blue, ivory or red contrast piping and stitching. The facia and dash also get Dark Aluminium trim which is unique to the R-S only.

You always get a pleasant feeling stepping into the cabin of an XF. Jaguar have done such a great job of making it a serene, comfortable and quiet place once you close the doors, that it’s genuinely a relaxing place to be. The aggressive exterior looks perhaps hides the fact that the XFR-S is actually a highly luxurious car, and not some stripped-down road racer.

Jaguar badge on the steering wheel - 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 5.0 V8

Touch and feel the interior, and it is immediately obvious that nearly every single piece and part is high grade and built to a high standard too. It is, in fact, sumptuous – rightly so for its £82,500 asking price. The design is classy and modern, and there’s lots of obvious expensive materials being used, such as the Suedecloth headlining, stitched leather lining on the dash and doors, patterned aluminium pieces and beautifully-finished piano black panels.

The front seats are superb, being both supremely comfortable and supportive, and provide a wide range of adjustment including being able to move the base of the seat to suit your leg-length, and inflate the back-section bolsters to make sure you’re help firmly in place. To add further to keeping you perfectly happy, they’re also three-stage heated and cooled.

Driver's seat and centre console - 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 5.0 V8 S-C

The rear is certainly comfortable too, at least on the side seats, and they are raked at the perfect angle. Sat in the back it’s luxurious enough that you feel very much like you’re getting the V.I.P treatment, and there’s surprisingly good leg room too. The Sportbrake allows rear passengers 48mm (1.9″) more headroom over the saloon, which doesn’t sound a lot but does make a big difference, and also allows the car to feel slightly more airy than the saloon version.

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The attractive centre console is ergonomic for driver-usage, with only minimal but essential controls keeping it uncluttered to the eye. Fire the engine into life via the starter button, and the hidden gear selector dial rises gracefully, whilst an electronic handbrake control just behind eliminates the need for a bulky handbrake. Press either of the inconspicuous chrome buttons on the piano black trim, and the section will raise gently to reveal storage compartments and two cupholders. A nice touch.

At night, the XF provides soft blue lighting around the driver and front passenger’s inner door handles, and surrounding the gear selector, heating and stereo controls are lines lit in neon blue which appear as chrome-finished in the daytime. Supremely cool, and it suits the Jaguar perfectly.

The XFR-S comes standard with an 825W Meridian surround-sound system, which includes a huge 17 speakers – ten more than the standard XF has, in fact.  The sound is immensely high quality, and four different types of surround make sure the music wraps around you to make you feel ultra-involved in it, and indeed adds much to the driving experience, should you especially love your music.

The touchscreen multimedia system also incorporates the rearview camera plus the settings for the heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel, satellite navigation, phone, bluetooth, DAB radio, digital TV (a £700 option), reverse camera and voice controls, amongst other things.

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While couple of years ago the system was modern, I believe it’s outdated in the graphics and useability sense, and indeed the all-new 2015 Jaguar XF has that much-needed update.

Boot room in the Sportbrake is generous as you’d expect, and with the rear seats folding completely flat it creates a huge stowage space. If you spec the tyre repair system over a space-saver wheel you gain an extra 40 litres overall. With the repair kit you’ll have 550 litres behind the rear seats (measured up to the load cover), and 1,675 litres with those folded.

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In summary, the XFR-S cabin is a really pleasant place to spend time in, and there’s nothing I really have issue with. It’s a comfortable, refined and  beautifully-designed space, and there’s an individuality and character about it, which is more than can be said for some of the German rivals.

That said, this 2014 XF Sportbrake is the last of the generation and it’s starting to feel a little outmoded, which is exactly why Jaguar have bought in the entirely new 2015 version, and at precisely the right time too.

Engine & gearbox

An almighty petrol 5.0 litre V8 engine with a Roots-type twin vortex supercharger powers the XFR-S – the same one that can be found in the mad F-Type V8 S and XKR-S. Except this one – in an estate car, remember – develops 54 horsepower and 41 lb ft (55Nm) of torque more than the F-Type. Yes, you read that correctly.

This isn’t just some big ol’ V8 throwing buckets of fuel into the system though, but instead features technology such as spray-guided direct injection (SGDI) and dual independent variable cam timing (DIVCT), to make the XFR-S surprisingly frugal for such a powerhouse.

The almighty petrol 5.0 litre V8 engine with a Roots-type twin vortex supercharger in the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 5.0 V8 S-C

It develops an almighty 542 bhp at 5,000 rpm, and 502 lb ft (680 Nm) of torque between 2,500 – 5,500 rpm. The power is actually more accessible in the XFR-S Sportbrake over the XKR-S though, as the XK’s max is developed at 6,000 – 6,500 rpm, and it’s all sent through the rear wheels.

Also, unlike the XK you get Jaguar’s throughly-slick 8-speed automatic transmission, which incorporated the Quickshift tech that the F-Type uses. More on that in the drive section.

0 – 62 mph is done in 4.8 seconds (4.6 it’s measured to 60 mph), and it’s limited to 186 miles-per-hour at the top. Limited. I’d like to know it’ll do without that stopper. 200 mph? Quite possible. Either way, keep in mind that this is a practical estate car, with room for all the kids stuff, or a (fast) run to the rubbish tip if needed, and that kind of top-end speed in this car warps the mind quite a lot.

2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 5.0 V8 S-C review-0094

If you’re buying an XFR-S, do you really care about the fuel economy? You shouldn’t, but actually you’ll be surprised that you could do a cross-Continental blast without having to stop for fuel at every services, as official figures (in UK mpg) are: urban: 14.8, extra urban: 31.4, combined: 22.2. CO2 emissions are rated as 297 g/km, which’ll pinch the pocket nastily over here in the UK. Still, if you can afford the car…

Real-world mpg? Actually it’s good if you’re on a run. Because of the eight-speed ‘box, at cruising speeds of 70 or 80 mph, you’ll only be doing around 2,000 rpm, and those lower revs means an unstressed engine meaning better economy. On a motorway run I managed a 29 miles-per-gallon average – incredible for such a big, powerful engine!

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

Driving the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 5.0 V8 S-C

Starting the XFR-S Sportbrake’s supercharged V8 almost always made me a grin like a Cheshire cat. It’s quite hilarious walking up to such a potent-looking car and hearing an almost straight-through exhaust system spit out an enormous lion-like roar. It’s a truly wonderful noise, and there’s so much race car authenticity to the sound that it game me goosebumps.

I can safely say that aside from super and hyper cars, Jaguar absolutely make some of the best-sounding cars on the market today. Press the starter and the V8 fires into life with a loud growl, like you pushed down on the throttle slightly as it’s started. After that it idles quickly for a while as the big motor warms, and then settle into a gentle but obvious gurgle.

Blip the accelerator a couple of times and you’re rewarded with throaty bellow, and on the way back down the revs the exhausts spit and crackle angrily. What a thing to hear – pure, unadulterated excitement sent down a metal tube.

Actually though, under normal acceleration, and especially at lower speeds, it’s not as loud as the F-Type V8 S with the Switchable Active Sports Exhaust option, which provides a soundtrack so aggressive that it gives heart-attacks to everyone you pass, even at slow speeds. Superb stuff.

Drive selector on the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 5.0 V8 S-C

Turn the gear dial selector to drive, and the XFR-S Sportbrake pulls forward with an immediacy that gives you a sign of what’s to come. In normal driving mode the R-S is unexpectedly well behaved, and others who drove the Sportbrake were genuinely surprised at just how easy a thing it is to drive through city traffic.

Driving the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 5.0 V8 S-C

The steering is light, and the Jaguar Adaptive Dynamics system – which reads road conditions and adjusts damper rates in response up to an incredible 500 times a second – means the XFR-S Sportbrake tackles badly-maintained sections of roads, and even speed humps, rather smoothly. Of course, the ride is quite obviously going to be firmer than a normal XF, but then you’re surely buying the car with that in mind.

The brakes are powerful, for sure, but they’re useable and progressive enough that they don’t bite with an uncomfortable viciousness. If you’re using the R-S Sportbrake for long-distance runs, you’ll find it a quiet and relaxed place thanks to the 8-speed gearbox and a cabin clearly well put together with plenty of sound deadening. The exhaust system doesn’t roar annoyingly either when you’re just cruising, and you pushed to notice it. Get on that throttle though, and it opens the pipes in satisfactory manner.

On that point, although the zero-to-sixty run is okay on the R-S Sportbrake, it’s absolutely nowhere near as fun as selecting S (sport mode) on the dial, pressing the Dynamic mode button, and at 40 mph dropping it to second gear with the paddle shifters before flooring the accelerator. I jest not here, you had better warn passengers to physically brace themselves against the headrests before you do, because they may genuinely get short-term whiplash if not, so insanely brutal is acceleration of this Jag! That’s not a joke – one of my actually passengers did (sorry about that Vicky).

Driving the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 5.0 V8 S-C

The XFR-S is a clever car with some good tech behind it to make your drive as good as it can be. Firstly, the lateral suspension and spring rate stiffness has been increased by 30% front and rear, the steering uses valving from the F-Type, the R-S specific 20″ wheels are half and inch wider at the front and an inch wider at the rear, the Pirelli tyres were designed exclusively for the XFR-S Sportbrake, there’s an Adaptive Dynamics, active electronic differential and Dynamic Stability Control systems, Jaguar’s Adaptive Dynamics system actively controls vertical body movement, roll and pitch rates, and there’s also an active electronic differential at the rear which can apply full locking torque when needed.

More tech includes Corner Recognition, which senses when the car is negotiating a bend, the transmission holding the correct gear for the exit, recognise when you’re overtaking and hold it in gear rather than change up early, blip the throttle on downshifts to keep the car balanced if you’re entering a corner or braking heavily, and it’ll make gearshifts more aggressive of you’re driving in that manner.

Safety-wise, there’s Adaptive Dynamics, emergency brake assist (EBA), cornering brake control (CBC), Pedestrian Contact Sensing System with Automatically Deployable Bonnet.

All these are just facts ‘n’ stats though, and they entirely disappear from your brain once you floor the go pedal of the XFR-S Sportbrake. You’ll likely have seen it in Star Trek wars when the Enterprise goes into warp speed, and the stars outside become lines. That’s a bit like what happens with the R-S, except it’s shrubbery and other cars you pass that become distant in seconds.

I cannot emphasise the speed of the R-S Sportbrake enough. It is a ridiculously fast car, and the way it surges forward towards the horizon makes it seem like that 186 mph limited top speed is absolutely attainable. The XFR-S is so crazily rapid that it actually makes overtaking on country roads much safer, as you’ll be past the car almost before you had chance to blink.

Driving the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 5.0 V8 S-C

It also sticks like glue through the twisties, where it sits in such a planted manner to the road that you feel entirely confident. However, in the hands of an wannabe race driver who possesses no skill, very few brains, and whose thought process is simply to mash the throttle, the R-S will be entirely unforgiving. 542 horsepower through the rear wheels will generally do that.

All said though, the XFR-S Sportbrake has been superbly well executed by Jaguar’s engineers and designers. It may be hugely powerful and tremendously fast, but it still drives in a well-mannered way around town, cruises as beautifully as a luxury car should, and is loud when you want it to be and quiet when necessary. A truly amazing performance estate.

Price

If you were expecting to get this sort of performance for a buck, best have a re-think, for the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake is priced at an eye-watering £82,450 before options. That’s a hefty sum, and you’re paying almost all of  that on performance enhancements alone, as the interior isn’t really much different to a Portfolio-spec Sportbrake, which are half the price of the R-S.

Rivals include the Audi RS6 Avant with 552 bhp starting at £77,465, at this point there’s no BMW M5 Touring available, but if there were it would have it’d have 560 bhp (the same as the M5 saloon) and likely cost around £77,000 as a guesstimate,  and there’s also the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Estate at almost £76,000 for the 557 bhp version, or £86,000 for the 585 bhp S model.

2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake verdict & score

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The XFR-S Sportbrake has a split personality: it is utterly bonkers, but also entirely practical too. On the one hand it’ll hit a limited 186 miles per hour should you want, and on the other it’ll cruise long distances and still return almost thirty miles per gallon.

The acceleration is so utterly brutal that you’re likely to suffer whiplash before the week is over, but there’s a massively roomy boot should you need to transport a fridge. Or some flat-pack furniture. And a set of drums. Just make sure they’re well strapped down, unless you like your stuff in small pieces that is.

The R-S Sportbrake will provide one of the most exhilarating drives of almost any non-million pound supercar, and the acceleration and accompanying soundtrack is utterly intoxicating, and something you’ll never tire of. On the flip side, it’ll do the daily commute or a drive to the shops in absolute comfort and luxury.

In summary the XFR-S Sportbrake is really a jack of all trades, and superb in all areas. The only place it really needs bringing up to date slightly is the interior, but with the a new XF on the cards that should happen anyway.

Do you own an XFR-S Sportbrake, or have questions about it? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

Exterior  9
Interior  8
Engine  9
Gearbox  9
Price  8
Handling  8.5
Drive & Ride  9
Overall Score  8.5 / 10 

Specs

Model (as tested)  2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake
Spec includes  RS body styling, 20″ ally wheels, Adaptive Dynamics, Active Differential, Pedestrian Contact Sensing System with Automatically Deployable Bonnet, emergency brake assist, cornering brake control, JaguarDrive Control with Sport, Winter and Dynamic modes, heated & cooled front seats, dual-zone climate control, 7″ colour touchscreen with sat nav, DAB, Bluetooth, USB & iPod connectivity, keyless entry & start, heated front windscreen See website for more details
Options you should spec  Adaptive Xenon Headlamps: £450 | Carbon Fibre engine cover: £1,295
The Competition  Audi RS6 Avant, BMW M5 Touring, Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Estate
Price  (May 2015) £82,495
Engine  Petrol, supercharged 5.0 litre V8 32-valve
Power, Torque  Power: 542 bhp @ 5,000 rpm | Torque: 502 lb ft (680 Nm) between 2,500 – 5,500 rpm
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Rear wheel drive | 8-speed automatic
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed (electronically limited): 186 mph | 0 – 60 mph: 4.6 seconds | Euro NCAP rating: 4/5 stars (2011 model)
Fuel economy (UK mpg), CO2  Urban: 14.8, Extra urban: 31.4, Combined: 22.2 | CO2: 297 g/km
Boot size, Weight  Boot (litres): rear seats up: 550, seats folded: 1,675 | Weight (kerb): 1,967 kgs (4,336 lbs)
Websites  Jaguar UK, Jaguar USA, Jaguar global

Words: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

One response to “2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake 5.0 V8 S/C review – A 542 BHP Practical Monster”

  1. Masaa Sandile

    Brilliant.

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