Jaguar XFR

Supercharger turns up heat on exec class leader

When Jaguar was at the height of its powers in the Fifties and Sixties it sold its elegant and sporty saloons under the banner ‘Pace, Space and Grace’.

More recently, the Coventry firm’s fastest four-doors have failed to live up to this legend – but that’s set to change with the all-new 503bhp XFR. It is designed to combine speed, practicality and good looks in a BMW M5-beating package.

Despite its potential, the XFR keeps its sporty design cues to a minimum. The sleek looks of the standard car are subtly enhanced by a deeper front bumper, neat bootlid spoiler and understated side skirts.

loser inspection reveals two cooling vents in the bonnet, quad exhaust pipes and a discreet ‘R’ badge on the boot. The same low-key approach has been followed inside. Heavily bolstered front seats, red needles for the dials and a small ‘supercharged’ logo on the rev counter are the only obvious changes.

Otherwise, the beautifully built cabin is exactly the same as the standard model’s. It can’t quite match the M5 for space, but there’s comfortably enough room for four adults, while the boot holds a useful 500 litres of luggage. That’s the grace and space taken care of – but what about the pace? Treacherously wet conditions at our test track meant plenty of wheelspin from a standing start and a disappointing 0-60mph time of 5.7 seconds. Braking was equally problematic, with the slippery surface significantly increasing stopping distances.

However, once off the line the XFR’s acceleration was blistering. With an incredible 625Nm of torque from only 2,500rpm, the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 gives devastating mid-range performance. It propelled the super-saloon from 30-70mph in 3.9 seconds – that’s 1.2 seconds faster than the BMW.

A slick-shifting six-speed automatic gearbox makes driving the XFR a joy. It provides quick and seamless changes, while steering wheel paddles allow you to control the shifts manually. But point the XFR down a twisty back road, and it’s clear there’s much more to it than searing straight-line pace.

Thanks to an Adaptive Dynamics mode and Active Differential Control, the British car is surprisingly agile and poised. The steering is well weighted and direct, and body control is excellent. Better still, the XFR has supple ride comfort when you just want to cruise.

Only in terms of outright grip does the British model lag behind, particularly in slippery conditions. Switch off the XFR’s traction control in the wet, and even light throttle inputs will see the rear wheels spin wildly.

This is easily forgiven when you consider the car’s £59,900 price – it undercuts the BMW by more than £5,000. Is that enough for the Jaguar to take victory in this test?

Details

WHY: Don’t be fooled by its understated looks – the latest Jag saloon to wear the R badge delivers huge performance.

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