2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake review

What Car? drives the 542bhp, £82,495 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake. Can it compete with the cheaper, faster Audi RS6 Avant and Mercedes E63 AMG Estate?

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Unlike the XF saloon, Jaguar doesn't offer its XF Sportbrake in 'R' spec. So if you want a performance-orientated estate, it's this full-fat XFR-S version or nothing at all.

It gets the same 542bhp supercharged V8 engine and suspension upgrades as the saloon XFR-S, but the added bonus of a boot that can carry up to 1675 litres of luggage (with the rear seats folded).

Also standard is Jag's tweaked 'Quickshift' eight-speed automatic gearbox, but is this enough to recommend it ahead of other performance estates such as the Audi RS6 Avant and Mercedes E63 AMG?

What is the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake like to drive?

Extremely fast. The extra bulk of the estate boot means that the XFR-S Sportbrake is a little slower than its saloon counterpart – 0-62mph takes 4.8 seconds compared with 4.4sec – but you'd be hard-pushed to notice the scant difference in performance when accelerating hard.

The staggering power and torque can overwhelm the wide rear tyres, but the traction control system is effective and makes sure grip is maintained on wet, grimy roads. Rest assured, driving with it switched off requires your full attention.

Changing gear using the new Quickshift gearbox is a slick and smooth process, and it blips the throttle on downshifts to match the engine revs, emitting an addictive snarl at the tailpipes. The steering wheel paddles are satisfyingly quick to respond, too, which means you are never in the wrong gear for a turn. 

The steering is light but beautifully precise and there's a decent amount of bite at the front wheels when turning in to corners. The XFR-S keeps its large body in check in tighter turns, too. 

Although not as cosseting as the rest of the XF range, the XFR-S Sportbrake still does a good job of damping large potholes and speed bumps at low speed. At a cruise, though, its 20-inch wheels mean tatty surfaces and expansion joints tend to unsettle anyone sitting inside. 

At least at motorway speeds things are more relaxing, because the V8 engine fades away into the background and the XF does a brilliant job of keeping out unwelcome wind and tyre noise.

What is the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake like inside?

The XFR-S Sportbrake is much the same as any other XF inside. The two bits that stand out are the carbon fibre-effect trim – which covers parts of the door panels and the seat backs – and the coloured stitching on the dash. There are also some R-S logos on the seats.

In many ways this familiarity a good thing, though, as it means practicality is just as good as in the standard Sportbrake. This means a decent amount of space for two adults in the rear, although three will be quite a squeeze.

The boot is a regular shape widthways, but the swooping roofline makes it comparatively shallow. Ultimately, there's a lot less space than you'll find in the taller, boxier Mercedes E63 AMG Estate.  

Standard equipment isn't an issue, though, because there are very few options left to add. Luxuries such as satellite-navigation, an 18-speaker sound system, Bluetooth, climate control and heated seats are all included.

Should I buy one?

Those stumping up the £82,495 for the keys to an XFR-S Sportbrake aren't likely to be disappointed. Its blend of pace, comfort and boot space makes it a superb performance car that really could be used every day (as long as you can afford its endless thirst for fuel).

However, it's hard to ignore the fact that an Audi RS6 Avant is nearly £5500 cheaper to buy, and the Mercedes E63 AMG Estate is more than £6500 less. Both are more powerful, quicker in a sprint and – according to Government figures at least – use less fuel. 

When you consider the E63 AMG is just as well equipped, has an equally high-quality cabin and offers considerably more boot space, the XFR-S fails to make as much sense, excellent though it is. 

What Car? says...



Rivals:

Audi RS6 Avant
Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Estate

Specification
Engine size Supercharged 5.0-litre V8
Price from £82,495
Power 542bhp
Torque 502lb ft
0-60mph 4.8 seconds
Top speed 186mph
Fuel economy 22.2mpg
CO2 297g/km

 
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