For a company synonymous with high-performance motoring, it’s a little puzzling that Jaguar has let the likes of Mercedes and BMW slip away in the power race at the top of the supersaloon class.
Although the brand has served up plenty of high-octane thrills over the past three decades, generations of Mercedes AMGs and BMW M cars have always been that bit faster and more powerful, and taught Jag a lesson in how to make the ultimate high-performance saloon.
Now, though, Jaguar finally reckons it has the firepower to take the Germans on at their own game and win. The new XFR-S is the most powerful XF ever, with 542bhp on tap and performance that puts it at the sharp end of the class.
To test its credentials, we’re pitching the newcomer against one of the mightiest supersaloons ever built – the Mercedes E63 AMG. Tested here in range-topping S form, the V8 powerhouse generates 577bhp and carries a premium of £4,095 over its British rival.
So has Jag finally found the winning formula for the ultimate supersaloon? Or will the E63 prove that power is everything in the world of fast four-doors?
For decades, Mercedes, BMW and Audi have battled to produce the most powerful supersaloon in the world. Barely a motor show passes without one of the brands announcing that their engineers
have managed to find enough extra horsepower to elevate their latest car to the top of this hard-fought class. Now, finally, Jaguar has the firepower to take on the Germans – and it’s great to have it back competing with the best.
Jaguar used to have a terrible reputation for customer service, but the company has transformed its operation. If our Driver Power results are anything to go by, even Mercedes could learn a lesson or two from it.
If you’re bamboozled by Bluetooth and worried by Wi-Fi, these cars won’t appeal. Both have the latest entertainment systems and dynamics programmes. In-car hi-fi has become ever more important in recent years, with manufacturers experiencing a surge in demand for high-end systems. The XFR-S gets an 825W Meridian system as standard, while the Mercedes comes with the option of a Bang and Olufsen BeoSound stereo that adds £4,230 to the asking price.
The big question is whether the XFR-S and E63 AMG S are worth the extra outlay over their standard siblings. For instance, the standard XFR isn’t exactly sluggish. Its supercharged 5.0-litre V8 develops 503bhp and blasts the Jag from 0-62mph in a claimed 4.7 seconds. And while it doesn’t feel quite as sharp to drive as the heavily re-engineered S, it costs £65,415, which is a hefty £14,580 saving. It’s a similar story with the Mercedes, although the premium over the £74,095 standard car is just £9,995. However, unlike the XF, the changes to the E63 are mainly limited to an increase in power, a few cosmetic tweaks and the addition of a limited-slip differential. Yet these cars add up to more than the
sum of their parts, as they deliver an even more engaging driving experience than the already exhilarating standard versions. And while they are expensive in isolation, each machine provides supercar-rivalling pace for half the price. The fact that a family of four and all their luggage can come along for the ride is the icing on the cake.
1st place - Mercedes
Victory goes to the E63 AMG S – but only by the narrowest of margins. Although it carries a £4,000 premium over the Jaguar, it has the edge thanks to its flexibility and sharper performance. Another factor in its win here is the cabin, which looks and feels as though it belongs in a race-bred supercar. THE E63 AMG S is the new flagship of the recently revamped E-Class range, and is the most powerful four-door saloon money can buy. Positioned just above the standard 550bhp E63 AMG, the 577bhp S version is aimed at the driver who wants the ultimate in performance, and is prepared to pay a £10,000 premium for the privilege. Like the standard car, it also comes as a practical estate, with a four-wheel-drive version as special order – although that’s hobbled by a left-hand-drive layout and a price tag which won’t leave much change from £100,000.
2nd place - Jaguar
The fact that the Jaguar came so close to toppling the E63 speaks volumes. It’s astonishingly fast and blessed with a wonderfully composed ride quality, and ticks almost every other box. Back in the early nineties, the only way to own a Jaguar with over 500bhp on tap was to part with £470,000 for a new XJ220 supercar. Today, buying into the 500bhp club involves little more than a trip to your local Jaguar dealer. The new XFR-S sits at the top of the brand’s XF range, and is charged with tempting buyers away from the likes of Mercedes, BMW and Audi supersaloons. To achieve this, Jaguar has pulled out all the stops. Nearly every part of the standard XFR has been modified to make the S more focused. If Jaguar could improve the cabin and squeeze a little more power from its glorious V8, it could have a winner.
|Mercedes E63 AMG S||Jaguar XFR-S|
|On-the-road price/total as tested||£84,090/£99,740||£79,995/£81,995|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)||£35,402/42.1%||£31,198/39.0%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£5,824/£11,647||£5,521/£11,043|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£4,364/£7,274||£3,750/£6,251|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||49/£934/L/£475||50/£846/M/£490|
|Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service||£45 per month (3yrs)||£360/£260/£360|
|Engine||V8 twin-turbo/5,461cc||V8 s’charged/5,000cc|
|Peak power||577/5,000 bhp/rpm||542/6,500 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque||800/1,750 Nm/rpm||680/2,500 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||7-spd auto/rwd||8-spd auto/rwd|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||80 litres/collapsible||70 litres/space saver|
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)||540 litres/N/A||540/963 litres|
|Turning circle||11.4 metres||11.0 metres|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (unlimited)/4yrs||3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||Variable/136||16,000 miles (1yr)/97|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||5th/10th||3rd/7th|
|Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars||N/A||79/73/62/4|
|0-60/30-70mph||4.3/3.0 secs||4.8/3.6 secs|
|30-50mph in kickdown||1.4 secs||1.6 secs|
|50-70mph in kickdown||1.8 secs||2.0 secs|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||186mph/1,800rpm||186mph/1,350rpm|
|Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph||72/57/66/72dB||67/55/65/71dB|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||16.5/3.6/290 miles||19.2/4.2/296 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||459/232g/km/35%||394/270g/km/35%|
|Airbags/Isofix/rear parking camera||Seven/yes/£390||Six/yes/£400|
|Automatic box/stability/cruise ctrl||Yes/yes/yes||Yes/yes/yes|
|Climate ctrl/leather/massage seats||Yes/yes/£1,790*||Yes/yes/N/A|
|Met paint/xenon lights/keyless go||Yes/LEDs/£595||Yes/yes/yes|