Unlike BMW’s M cars and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG variants, Jaguar’s R models are rather understated and somewhat under rated when it comes to high performance saloons. Models like the S Type R and the XJR were immensely quick and capable performance sedans that deserved more credit and mention.
Perhaps the new XFR will improve the image and recognition of Jaguar’s R cars. With more than 500 horses on tap, Coventry’s hot XF certainly sounds like it has what it takes to take the fight to the Germans.
The hottest XF previously available was the very discrete looking, 416bhp SV8, which is no longer available as its rather ancient 4.2-litre V8 has been surpassed by Jaguar’s new generation of AJ V8 motors displacing 5000cc.
With 510bhp on tap, the XFR’s 5000cc supercharged V8 offers quite explosive and brutal straightline performance. The 1891kg XFR will accelerate to 100km/h from rest in a scant 4.9 seconds with top speed electronically limited to 250km/h..
With maximum torque of 625Nm available from 2500rpm, the Jag’s force-fed V8 offers lots of kick in the mid-range. Low-end urge isn’t lacking either; the engine pulls cleanly from just above idling speed. The XFR’s pace at any speed is just relentless.
With so much effortless performance from the V8 with just a prod of the accelerator, it is easy to reach driving license-losing speeds in this executive saloon. In fact, cars with this performance potential offer so much pace that other road users are likely to underestimate how fast you’re approaching them in the XFR.
Disappointingly, the XFR suffers from a right pedal that has an overtly long travel – this gives you the perception that it suffers from poor throttle response. Thankfully though, this minor shortcoming can be sorted out by selecting Dynamic mode from a switch on the centre console. This not only sharpens the throttle but also quickens the gearbox and so on.
In previous Jaguar R models, the combination of a rumbling V8 engine and exhaust note combined with the whine from the Roots-type supercharger makes for a really nice mechanical symphony. The new supercharged V8 in the XFR offers none of this though – from inside the car, you’ll only hear a faint and undramatic V8 growl with no audible signs of a supercharger at work blowing compressed air into the intake. The exhaust note sounds more purposeful from the outside though.
The XFR offers a six-speed automatic transmission. It is operated by what is one of the most talked about feature in the XF when it was first launched just over a year ago. The traditional Jaguar ‘J’ gate gear selector in previous models is history and is replaced by a rotary knob that rises from the centre console when you start the engine and retracts back when the ignition is cut. Steering wheel mounted gear change paddles are a standard feature for control freaks. The box is a smooth operator in all situations but the mapping for the shift patterns in default mode somehow feels a tad too lazy for a performance variant like this.