2014 Jaguar XFR-S First Drive
The Quickest and Most Agile Jaguar Sedan. Ever.
The 2014 Jaguar XFR-S sedan arrives just two model years after Jaguar introduced the R-S treatment on the 2012 XK coupe. To find out whether the 2014 XFR-S lives up to the automaker's claims that it’s Jaguar’s fastest and most agile sedan ever, we drove the XFR-S on a scenic route from Seattle to Shelton, Washington, for some seat time on the street and at the Ridge Motorsports Park.
Jaguar considers the R line to be "high performance luxury" and the core of the brand's performance line, while R-S models are for those who demand "ultimate road performance." Like BMW M cars and Mercedes-Benz AMG models, R-S models benefit from a revised powertrain in addition to the expected retuned suspension and aerodynamics.
While the standard XFR is enhanced through "performance tuning," the XFR-S' abilities come from new "performance technology." For XFR-S duty, that’s Jaguar's supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 that makes 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque - increases of 40 hp and 41 lb-ft, respectively, compared to the XFR. The power increase comes from a new intake that also pipes induction sound into the cabin, a free-flow exhaust system, and a retuned ECU. The eight-speed automatic transmission benefits from Quickshift technology originally developed for the F-Type convertible. In manual mode, Quickshift provides rapid-fire, rev-matching downshifts as well as quick upshifts. When left in automatic mode, the transmission determines shift speed and shift points based on acceleration, braking, and steering inputs. Automatic start/stop is standard. Despite the additional power, the XFR-S' EPA rating of 15/23 mpg city/highway matches that of the 510-hp XFR.
The XFR-S benefits from a 30 percent increase in suspension stiffness front and rear compared to the XFR, which is already 30 percent stiffer than the standard XF. Up front, revised steering knuckles increase camber and castor stiffness, which -- along with new wheel bearings -- improves steering feel. A new rear sub-frame allows for revised suspension geometry with new rear knuckles as well as stiffer bushings and springs. Despite 0.5-inch and 1.0-inch wider front and rear wheels, the 20-inch Varuna alloy wheels weigh the same as those on the XFR. The lightweight wheels are wrapped in custom Pirelli rubber measuring 265/35R20 up front and 295/30R20 out back. Other changes include new steering valving lifted from the F-Type roadster. The Adaptive Dynamics, active electronic differential, and Dynamic Stability Control systems have been revised to work with the retuned suspension and steering systems.
Aerodynamic changes include a deeper front bumper with larger lower air intakes and a carbon-fiber front splitter. Lower side sills feature an aero blade molding behind the front wheels, while the rear bumper has deeper side molding behind the rear wheels. The extended rear bumper features a deeper carbon-fiber diffuser that aids in reducing lift. A large carbon-fiber rear spoiler reduces lift by 68 percent, while a lower, more subtle spoiler is available. New hood louvers aid in engine cooling. Gloss black and carbon fiber replace the chrome grille trim.
With lots of power on tap, the XFR-S requires only modest throttle tip-in to push the 4380-pound (mfr est.) luxury sport sedan down the road - even with the transmission in Drive. In Sport mode, the transmission downshifts almost instantly for effortless passing maneuvers, though judicious observation of the speedometer (or rearview mirror) is advised to keep below license-revocation speeds. Despite some tire noise, the XFR-S gives little sensation of speed up to 60 mph.
Rather than a direct route to the track, our drive wound from downtown Seattle through Federation Forest State Park, White Point, and Rock Point Park, past Mount Rainer to Shelton. As expected of a high-performance sport sedan, the XFR-S traveled the canyon roads much quicker than suggested speeds, with only a few curves necessitating a throttle lift or braking to slow the car.
Nestled among pine trees, the Ridge Motorsports Park is a 16-turn, 2.5-mile course. The track is 40 feet wide (four feet wider than the U.S. standard), with 300 feet in total elevation change (80 feet top to bottom), four blind corners, and a 2900-foot-long straight before Turn 1. As the fourth blind turn, Turn 13 marks the beginning of the Ridge Complex (similar to the corkscrew at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca) that also incorporates Turns 14 and 15. The Ridge Complex slows drivers down before entering the long straight after Turn 16, where the XFR-S reached 138 mph before entering the braking zone for Turn 1. Large 14.96-inch front and 14.8-inch rear discs confidently slow the wild cat under heavy braking. Under full throttle, the XFR-S growls with equal parts American musclecar and Italian sports car. For a near 2.2-ton midsize luxury sedan, the XFR-S accelerates, stops, and handles like a legit sports car, with limits much higher than the average driver's abilities.
Jaguar estimates the 2014 XFR-S will reach 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, though after spending time on the street and track, those numbers seem conservative. Especially considering that our 2012 XFR tester with a six-speed automatic reached 60 mph in 4 seconds flat, or 0.7 second quicker than manufacturer estimates. The XFR-S' top speed is raised to an electronically limited 186 mph versus the XFR-S, which requires an optional Speed Pack to increase top speed from 155 mph to 174 mph.
With a base price of $99,895 including destination, the 2014 XFR-S starts $15,800 more than the 510-hp XFR and $8050 more than the 560-hp 2014 BMW M5 sedan. Along with the near six-figure base price, the 2014 XFR-S also comes with exclusivity: Just 100 examples are coming to the U.S. in 2014.
With more thrust from the supercharged 5.0-liter V-8, a rowdier exhaust, and higher handling limits, the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S offers exclusivity with the performance to back up its street racer looks as well as a refreshing alternative to the more ubiquitous German super sport sedans.