Jaguar XF XFR
XFR's changes hard to spot from a distance
- New V8 offers huge performance with ease
- Cabin is a delight to look at and use
- Compromise between ride and handling is close to perfection
- Good value against rivals
- Inevitable high running costs
- Exterior may be too discreet for some
- More changes to signify 'R' model would be welcome
- No manual gearbox option
Jaguar has grabbed plenty of headlines with its stunning XF, a car that signalled its attempt to move on from retro-inspired designs of the past. The other key aspect to the brand is its sporting credentials; hence the XF gets the R treatment and in doing so becomes the fastest car to come from the manufacturer.
Jaguar's 'R' brand may not have the same motorsport heritage as some of its key rivals, but in the minds of the buyers at least it signifies high performance but not at the price of comfort. In the XFR, the exterior styling adds increased visual muscle without abandoning the good proportions and refined taste that makes the standard car so attractive in the first place. Bigger wheels, a subtle bodykit and less chrome are all appealing changes.
Underneath the ski, the changes between standard XF and XFR are focussed on detail rather than major overhaul. The one exception to this is the engine. The previous supercharged petrol engine as seen in the XF SC model has been replaced by a new unit with increased power and torque, yet thanks to efficiency improvements it also manages to be more efficient, with reduced emissions and comparable fuel economy despite the performance increase.
Other key changes are a more powerful braking system and a quicker ratio steering rack to suit the more enthusiastic driver that the XFR will attract. Active Differential Control and Adaptive Dynamics are two electronic systems that control the actions of the car's various systems including gearbox, differential and stability control depending on your mood and to ensure best performance.
The increased focus on performance has not come at the expense of luxury however, as the XFR is exceptionally well-specified and can be further enhanced with a range of tantalising options. Passengers may not think this is anything other than a regular luxury saloon, such is the understated nature of the car.
Our verdict on the Jaguar XF XFR
The XFR takes the good points of the standard car and moves them up several notches. The performance is accessible and flexible, the handling is unflappable and yet thrilling, but none of this comes at the price of the impressive comfort and high standard of luxury. As an all-rounder it is unbeatable, and as an outright performance car it is right up there with the best.
There's no hiding the fact that the XFR is not a cheap car. However, it is surprisingly good value when its level of standard equipment is compared with its rivals, especially as it scores so highly on dynamic and design aspects.
Space and practicality
Past Jaguars have never been regarded as packaging masterpieces, but the XFR goes a long way to overturning such perceptions. Front seat occupants fare well, with plenty of head, leg and elbowroom. At the rear legroom is good, although headroom could be better if you're tall. Oddment storage is good for a car in the executive class - MPVs are the overall benchmark here. At the rear the XFR's boot is a good size and will accommodate a couple of suitcases with room to spare.
Controls and display
The XF's main dials are very easy to read and the central colour display is straightforward and intuitive. The touchscreen properties require a light touch though, as the display can get crowded with various options. Down to the centre console, and the XF's radical gear selector is actually easy to use. The rotary device rises and falls with the ignition on and off respectively - the starter is a red, pulsating button. Simply spin it right for Drive (plus down and further right for Sport) and left for Reverse and Park. The car's steering wheel paddles can be used at any time.
Plush seats, a quiet cabin and plenty of creature comforts all make the XFR's cabin a pleasant place in which to spend a few hours. Engine and road noise are noticeable by their absence. Rear seat adult occupants of a tall nature might find the sloping roofline less attractive from the inside, however.
All the usual remote locking and immobiliser features are present in the XFR. Depending on the model, you can have a completely keyless operation - just walk up to the car, get in and start it - for extra convenience. It also negates the need for you to fumble for the car's key in locations where personal safety could be compromised.
A plethora of airbags highlights Jaguar's commitment to safety, while the engineers' use of intelligent electronic stability controls ensure that keen drivers get to have some fun also. Isofix mounting points are also present, allowing you to safely transport children.
The XFR is intended to offer a more sporting experience than the rest of the XF range, not only through its high output, supercharged engine but also the standard fit adaptive suspension. In normal driving there is no apparent compromise in comfort levels, yet in the right conditions the XF is an entertaining car. The impressive paddleshift gearbox mode, plus the option to stiffen the suspension and loosen the dynamic stability control means the driver can easily set the car up for maximum pleasure.
Family car appeal
If you look past the plush cabin upholstery the XF could pass as a family vehicle. The entertainment system would certainly pass muster with young, bored children, and access to the rear is straightforward if you're only concerned with the welfare of little people. Oddment storage can't match that of a people carrier and the shallowness of the XFR's boot might struggle with pushchairs and the weekly shop together.
First car appeal
The XF, particularly in XFR form, is unlikely to suit a new driver, thanks to the combination of power, high purchase price and running costs. Four-door saloons aren't the most popular choice for younger drivers either.
Quality and image
Despite still being a new car, the XF's image is strong thanks to the car's visual appeal, and the XFR can build on that. It's also helped by the cache of the 'R' brand. Quality has moved a long way in a short space of time and Jaguars are now seen as offering very good quality, if not best in class.
The XFR's sleek appearance is impressive but it comes at a slight cost. For most people it will be fine, but that sloping roof does impact on rear headroom and the car's rear doors could be larger - to better aid entry and exit. At the rear, the car's boot is a good size for a modern Jaguar, although the boot aperture is on the small side.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
Standard fit is a well specified system boasting all the usual premium refinements. Along with steering wheel and fascia controls, the car's colour touchscreen is the main control. Sound quality is excellent and depending on model and options selected, a more powerful amplifier, more speakers and full control of a connected iPod can be experienced.
Colours and trim
With less chrome on the outside, darker body colours seem to suit the XFR best. Complimenting the exterior is the subtle use of chrome highlights for the grille and other areas. Inside, the refined ambience is topped off by the measured use of wood and silver trim. A good option to go for is the Alacantara roof lining, which looks superb.
Although big, in principal the XFR is a straightforward car to park and manoeuvre. The steering is light and accurate at low speeds and forward visibility is good. The view aft could be better, though; the rear screen is small plus the rear head rests and high level brake light restrict what you can see. The parking sensors do work well and make life easy once you're acclimatised to the car's dimensions.
XFR models get a space-saver as standard.
Petrol engine options - 3.0-litre (238bhp); 5.0-litre (385bhp); 5.0-litre supercharged (503bhp). Diesel engine options - 3.0-litre (240bhp and 275bhp). Transmission options: six-speed automatic gearbox. Trim levels: Luxury, Premium Luxury, Portfolio, XFR.
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