2014 Jaguar XFR-S
It’s not easy being a hot-rod sports sedan. In the company of giants like the BMW M5, Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, and Audi RS7, 510 horsepower and 4.3 seconds to 60 mph only earns you second-class status. So although Jaguar’s XFR is hardly a slouch, it has struggled to stand out among the German cars that dominate this segment. rnWith the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S, the Brits aren’t keeping up with their competitors so much as they’re catching up. Jaguar is hurriedly expanding its offerings, intent on becoming a full-line luxury manufacturer. In addition to the new F-type sports car and a forthcoming crossover, the Brits are bent on developing a proper performance brand. In 2012, Jag leapt into action by transforming the XKR into the XKR-S before going even further with 2014’s XKR-S GT. Now the company moves into more-competitive waters with an R-S treatment of its bestseller, the mid-size XF sedan. And if there’s one thing the new XFR-S proves, it’s that the XFR left plenty of performance on the table. rnIt only took a new calibration and a revised exhaust system to boost the XFR’s output by 40 horsepower and 41 lb-ft of twist. In the R-S, power builds smoothly into a heady 550 horsepower at 6500 rpm. Brake-torqued from a standstill, the XFR-S runs to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and clears the quarter-mile in 12.3 seconds with a trap speed of 117 mph. Those are improvements of 0.4 and 0.3 second compared with the quickest XFR we’ve tested. The times won’t, however, beat a dual-clutch M5’s 3.7 seconds to 60 and 12.0 seconds in the quarter-mile. rnPower is relayed to the XFR-S’s rear meat via the eight-speed automatic that was retrofitted to every other XF model for 2013. Compared with the XFR’s old six-speed, the R-S’s eight benefits from shorter ratios in the low gears that aid acceleration, as well as taller top gearing that helps it earn the same 15/23 mpg city/highway splits of its less-endowed stable mate. rnThe ZF-designed gearbox is common throughout the industry these days, but as we’ve learned from good (BMW and Audi) and not as good (Chrysler) executions, there’s a tangible difference to be felt in how the transmission is calibrated. The XFR-S version lands somewhere in the middle, largely due to downshifts that are too soft for a machine this hard-core. To put a finer point on things, the gearchanges are slightly slurred and noticeably slower than this transmission is capable of.