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2014 Jaguar XF R-Sport review

New R-Sport trim brings sports car looks to the Jaguar XF range, without the high running costs but is it worth the price premium?

Words ByVicky Parrott

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Don’t get confused – the misleadingly named Jaguar XF R-Sport isn’t any more sporting than the standard XF models. In fact, R-Sport is a trim level, designed to bring styling reminiscent of the hotrod XFR saloon to the diesel models, being available on both 161bhp and 197bhp versions of the 2.2-litre, as well as on the 3.0-litre V6. There are, however, no mechanical changes on R-Sport cars.

Added equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels in anthracite grey, a rear spoiler and sportier front bumper, while leather and Alcantara, electrically adjustable seats finish off the racier interior .

What’s the Jaguar XF R-Sport like to drive?

Just the same as any other standard XF. We drove the lower-powered 2.2, which will be the big seller, particularly for company buyers. The eight-speed automatic gearbox blurs gearshifts well, but can be a bit hesitant when you demand a sudden burst of speed, and the engine sounds harsh if you rev it hard. It’s more at home at a calm cruise on the motorway, when engine noise fades into the background, and wind and tyre noise are also nothing more than a distant thrum.

Ride comfort on standard 17-inch wheels is quite pliant, softening the initial thump over speed bumps and potholes effectively, although there is a bit of fidgeting over scruffy, cracked surfaces. Still, body-lean through corners is tightly controlled, and the steering is light and precise, with a satisfyingly natural feel to it. All of which makes the XF an enjoyable thing to thread round corners, although it’s not quite as sharp to turn-in corners as the BMW 5 Series that remains the benchmark for handling in this class.

What’s the Jaguar XF R-Sport like inside?

The R-Sport trim gets its own interior finish, which includes a classy-looking combination of dark grey leather and Alcantara-wrapped seats with contrasting stitching, leather cabin finish, and aluminium-effect dash inserts with gloss-black highlights. It isn't dramatically different from lower-spec XF interiors, but the variety of textures, and the R logo in evidence on the steering wheel set it apart.

Sat-nav, Bluetooth, USB, 7.0-inch colour touch-screen and dual-zone climate control are among the standard luxuries, although this is no more than you'd get in the cheaper SE Business and Luxury trims.

The colour screen is a great focal point for the dash; the graphics are bright and most of the key icons are big enough to hit on the move. However, the screen can be slow to respond, and hard to navigate.

The seats are identical to the standard items, and they’re generally comfortable, although it’s a shame that they don’t get lumbar adjustment as standard, as they do feel short of lower-back support.

Otherwise, the interior is all the usual XF fare. There’s plenty of room up front to allow tall drivers to find a natural driving position, but the sloping roof means that there’s a bit less headroom in the back than in most rivals – even so, two six-footers will still be able to get comfortable in the back.

The substantial boot is big enough to swallow a couple of large suitcases or two sets of golf clubs, although the load bay narrows and steps up towards the seats, which can be a bit inconvenient.

Should I buy one?

The Jaguar XF is still one of the best driving cars in its class. Despite CO2 emissions that fall short of the class best, the slick handling and high levels of standard equipment give it plenty of appeal.

However, it’s only the looks that you’re paying for with the R-Sport trim, as the SE Business gets much the same equipment for Β£2500 less (though is only available with the low-powered 2.2 diesel), but Luxury trim is still Β£1500 less, and can be had with any of the diesels in th range.

For that reason, unless you really value its sporty styling pizzazz, R-Sport trim is pretty hard to justify in a model range that is already full of better-value options, let alone cheaper rivals from other brands.

What Car? says

Rivals

Audi A6

BMW 5 Series

Jaguar XF R-Sport 2.2d 163
Engine size 2.2 diesel
Price from Β£33,995
Power 161bhp
Torque 295 lb ft
0-62mph 10.5seconds
Top speed 130mph
Fuel economy 57.7mpg
CO2 output 129g/km

Jaguar XF R-Sport 2.2d 200
Engine size 2.2 diesel
Price from Β£35,450
Power 197bhp
Torque 332 lb ft
0-62mph 8.5seconds
Top speed 140mph
Fuel economy 55.4mpg
CO2 output 139g/km

Jaguar XF R-Sport 3.0d
Engine size 3.0 V6 diesel
Price from Β£37,365
Power 237bhp
Torque 369 lb ft
0-62mph 7.1seconds
Top speed 149mph
Fuel economy 47.7mpg
CO2 output 159g/km