Jaguar’s hottest XF

Road test: Jaguar XFR-S 5.0 Supercharged V8

Mark Knopfler’s fine lyrics from the song 5.15 A.M. on his Shangri-La album.  He sings about the romance of using one of Browns Lane’s finest (chosen over the more stereotypical Mark 2) by the criminal under-class. Ignoring any inconvenient technicalities in today’s camera-infused world, the XFR-S must surely be the modern day equivalent – the ideal get-away vehicle.

Our test car is dressed in a loud, royal blue but is also available in gentler hues which would make it subtler for any heist. The deeper front air intake is fairly discrete and the badging is subtle (even if the rear spoiler isn’t). Inside, it retains the beautiful craftsmanship of lesser XFs but with leather sports seats, and on this car, lovely blue stitching on all the leather bits, including the dashboard.

Of course, the interesting parts are under the bonnet and this is evident from the sound, the moment the Start button is pressed. From the off, this car is rapid. Rapid in a licence-losing way. Even without Sport selected, legal speed limits are dispatched with abandon and it’s time to hit the brakes. The super-charged five-litre V8 is so quick that the lovely surge of power which pushes the driver satisfyingly back in to the seat can be enjoyed for such short bursts; each time, it seems a shame to curtail the fun – unless you have a bag of swag in the ample boot. Sport mode shortens these times further, with the added snatches of traction control while the wheels try to hang on to the tarmac.

Without a track to hand – and with a desire to keep my licence – I pushed the XFR-S only moderately.  It is well-behaved but the electronic brain allows a touch more instability than similarly-powered Mercedes-Benz rivals.  It’s just that little bit naughtier.  Handling is predictable but the limits can be sampled quite easily under power – especially as it is driven through just the rear wheels.  The sizeable brakes do their job, but could take a little extra keenness to temper the speed.

It is hard to consider the relevance of cars like these – they can be driven in a civilised manner but there’s just so much capability pent-up under the bonnet that it is frustrating not to be able to use it.  It’s an absolute scream and that soundtrack, too, merely encourages one to push it harder.  So, the XFR-S is race track play thing, fun for the continental dash or, simply, the best getaway car around.

Jaguar XFR-S 5.0 Supercharged V8, from £79,995.

Power: 550 PS (@ 6,500 rpm), torque: 680 Nm (@ 2,500 – 5,500 rpm), emissions: 270 g/km CO2 (band M), 0-62 mph: 4.6 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●○

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