Just how super does a supersedan need to be? That's the question posed by the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S. This winged warrior promises to take the already potent XFR to the next level. Visually, we'd say that it does; particularly in French racing blue, the XFR-S looks very much the part of a supersedan. Compared with the R, the R-S gets unique twenty-inch wheels wrapped in ultra-low-profile high-performance rubber, a deeper front air dam with vertical vanes, extended lower body sills, a rear diffuser, and that giant rear wing. (Those who find the latter excessive can opt for a trunk spoiler instead.) The interior is a different story, with patches of carbon-weave leather the only element kicking it up a notch over the XFR. Both cars, though, have excellent, highly bolstered sport seats with adjustable lateral support and an 825-watt Meridian sound system. Both also suffer from a small, outdated touch screen and dark mesh aluminum trim that doesn't pack much visual impact.
Mechanically, the R-S brings an extra 40 hp and 41 lb-ft of torque, for new totals of 550 hp and 502 lb-ft, announced through a more vocal exhaust. Parsing that output is a reprogrammed eight-speed automatic transmission, which again uses Jaguar's dial gear selector along with shift paddles. The chassis has the same upgraded brake hardware as the XFR but 40 percent firmer springs and thicker antiroll bars. Like the XFR, the R-S is rear-wheel drive only. Why not use all-wheel drive to help put the power down? "We developed all-wheel drive as a traction aid, not as a performance aid," explains chief program engineer Andy Dobson.
Even without the off-the-line traction benefit of all-wheel drive, the XFR-S zooms from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds (versus 4.7 seconds for the XFR). More lenient electronics allow a top speed of 186 mph (it sounds even better in European: 300 km/h). Not surprisingly, the XFR-S is a monster in the passing zones of rural two-lanes, and its throaty exhaust pops on throttle liftoff. Despite its grippy, ultra-wide tires, there's no tramlining and the ride quality remains pretty decent. Accessing the dynamic mode is an easy, one-button action that alters throttle and transmission mapping, dampers, steering, and the locking of the rear differential. Switching the stability control is a separate button. Out on the track, the R-S is a playful companion, rotating easily with the stability control in competition mode (it also can be switched off altogether). The supercharged V-8 is very strong, rocketing the car out of corners, but even in sport mode the eight-speed automatic can't always keep up with track work. Unlike the Speedshift automatic in Mercedes AMG cars, this gearbox is not aggressive enough to be left to its own devices during track driving. Using the shift paddles is easy enough, but then you wish for throttle blipping on downshifts and a head-up display to keep from running out of revs.
The tough situation that the XFR-S faces is that the standard XF is already the finest athlete in its class. And then there's the XFR, which has many of the goodies found here at a price that's nearly $17,000 less. We'd like to see rev-matched downshifts, a head-up display, and a sportier interior (not to mention -- in all XFs -- a larger, more up-to-date touch screen). The 2014 Jaguar XFR-S is good as far as it goes, but as an ultimate statement, one that better backs up its appearance, it could go even farther.
2014 Jaguar XFR-S
|Engine:||5.0-liter supercharged V-8|
|Power:||550 hp @ 6500 rpm|
|Torque:||502 lb-ft @ 2500–5500 rpm|
|Tires (f,r):||265/35 ZR20, 295/30ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero|
|Fuel Economy:||15/23 mpg|