For over two decades, families wanting to go faster have been able to pick from a growing number of souped-up estates. Yet only now has Jaguar joined the fray. It’s famous for its hot coupés and saloons, but this is the first time the brand has given one of its load-luggers a high-performance makeover.
The racy new XFR-S Sportbrake is based on the sleek and stylish XF estate, and features a thumping 542bhp supercharged V8, a heavily uprated chassis and some aggressive visual add-ons. Yet these go-faster credentials don’t come at the expense of practicality, as the new model shares the same roomy boot and spacious cabin as the standard car.
However, the Jaguar faces some stiff competition in the upmarket fast estate sector – and no rival is tougher than the Mercedes E63 AMG S. The flagship S model stands out from the already rapid standard car with an astounding 577bhp power output, as well as a vast 695-litre load bay. But it costs nearly £3,500 more than the Jaguar, at £85,900.
So which of our hard-hitting heavyweight estates carries off the spoils in this high-octane encounter? We put them to the test on the road and track to deliver the definitive verdict.
Read the full verdict on each car by clicking the links above, and scroll down to find out the winner...
The Mercedes leads the way on practicality. With the back seats in place its boot boasts a 695-litre capacity, which is 145 litres up on the Jag. The load bay also benefits from a number of shopping bag hooks, as well as a hidden compartment beneath the boot floor and a 12V power socket.
The Sportbrake isn’t as spacious, but it features a powered tailgate, a flat load lip and an adjustable load rail system in the boot floor.
Despite giving away 35bhp and 120Nm of torque to the Mercedes, the XFR-S put in a strong showing at the track. Thanks to its slick and responsive eight-speed gearbox, it was only narrowly beaten by the more powerful E63 AMG S in our tests. In the real world there’s little to separate the two.
Careful suspension upgrades help these hefty estate cars handle with the same agility and poise as their lighter saloon counterparts. Yet with its meaty steering, excellent body control and confidence-inspiring grip,
the Mercedes is the more involving of the two.
It's close, but the Mercedes just edges ahead in this encounter. While it’s more expensive to buy, the E63 has the advantage when it comes to driver involvement, plus it was fractionally faster at the track. It also features a thunderous soundtrack and a luxurious cabin packed with sporty touches. Yet it’s the cavernous carrying capacity that gives the AMG the crucial edge in this finely balanced contest.
The handsome Jaguar is brimming with character, serves up sledgehammer pace and is entertaining on a twisting back road. It’s also luxuriously appointed, well equipped and surprisingly comfortable. However, while the Sportbrake is packed with handy family friendly touches, it can’t match the vast Mercedes when it comes to boot space. High running costs also count against it.
|Mercedes E63 AMG S Estate||Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake|
|On-the-road price/total as tested||£85,900/£91,345||£82,495/£84,245|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)||£35,820/41.7%||£32,008/38.8%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£5,949/£11,898||£5,695/£11,389|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£3,838/£6,397||£3,706/£6,177|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||49/£672/L/£485||50/£713/M/£500|
|Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service||£45p/m (3yrs)||£260/£360/£260|
|Peak power||577/5,500 bhp/rpm||542/5,000 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque||800/2,000 Nm/rpm||680/2,500 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||7-spd auto/rwd||8-spd auto/rwd|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||80 litres/foam||70 litres/foam|
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)||695/1,950 litres||550/1,675 litres|
|Turning circle||11.4 metres||11.5 metres|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (unltd)/4yrs||3yrs (unltd)/3yrs|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||Variable/136||20,000 (1yr)/97|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||9th/21st||2nd/7th|
|0-60/30-70mph||4.4/3.2 secs||4.4/3.4 secs|
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th||2.0/3.0 secs||2.3/2.9 secs|
|50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th||3.9/4.9 secs/N/A||5.6/8.0/7.1 secs|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||155mph/1,800rpm||186mph/1,500rpm|
|Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph||72/49/61/68dB||69/46/61/66dB|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||19.8/4.4/348 miles||20.5/4.6/316 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||382/234g/km/35%|
|Auto box/stability/adaptive cruise ctrl||Yes/yes/£2,345**||Yes/yes/no|
|Metallic paint/LED lights/keyless go||Yes/yes/£595||Yes/no/yes|