In a world of downsizing, higher efficiency, hybrid drives and steadfast diligence, the Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake is a super-estate that reminds us there are car designers out there with a keen sense of humour. Geoff Ashcroft reports.
We have already enjoyed time in Jaguar’s impressive diesel-powered Sportbrake, which packs a healthy shove from its three-litre twin turbo V6 diesel.
But with the price of fuel finally on the slide, the XFR-S is one which deserves a special place on the Christmas fantasy list.
Packing 550hp from a supercharged V8 five-litre petrol engine, the XFR-S is a suitably practical antidote to dark winter days. Sliding into the leather-filled cabin and snug sports seats, I feel an air of trepidation as the Jag wakes. Like the deck of the starship Enterprise, stirring the big cat into life is an event. Instruments flicker, air vents roll gently open and a brushed aluminium gear selector rises gracefully from the centre console.
A push of the start button splits the morning air with a loud crack from its four exhaust pipes, before settling into a smooth, low idle. We could stop and restart the engine endlessly just to hear that V8 wake up call.
But with all that fire-power going through the rear wheels, the XFR-S Sportbrake is hampered on a damp winter road. And we soon learned to treat the throttle pedal with respect.
That said, a flick of our right ankle has the XFR-S heading for the horizon at an alarming rate, its supercharged engine pulling harder and harder through the rev range as tyres claw furiously at the tarmac.
Yet behind us is a loadspace which measures almost 2m in length and more than 1m at its narrowest point. A powered tailgate makes it easy to access, and the tug of a lever from the load area drops the back seats flat in one easy move, without the need to remove or reposition headrests.
The use of load rails in the load floor with adjustable tie-downs and a load divider makes it all the more versatile. It could not be easier to use. If it has a downside, that rear diffuser prevents fitting a towbar.
Nobody needs a 550hp estate car anymore than they might need a 200hp scraping out tractor – and a severe dose of Christmas man-maths will have you scanning the classifieds in search of some affordable high performance estates which can be justified entirely on their ability to collect vital spare parts in a hurry.
Like a high-horsepower tractor, if you put aside the stomach churning buying and running costs, the XFR-S’s exhilarating performance delivers a level of hysteria not seen since feed wheat passed £225/tonne.
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