When Jaguar’s new XFR super saloon arrived in 2009, its styling gave little clue to its capabilities. Other than larger alloys and the words ‘supercharged’ written along the bonnet vents this M5-rivalling Jag could have been mistaken for any ordinary XF.
It was under the skin where Jaguar had spent its development budget. A whole host of mechanical changes included revised suspension, new electronic diff, continuously adjustable dampers and a more efficient supercharger. Not to mention 503bhp of muscular power, allowing the XFR to match the German competition in straight-line speed and eclipse them in overtaking acceleration. It also proved more than capable in the bends, all without sacrificing ride and passenger comfort. In short, Jaguar finally had a sports saloon that could take on the best in class and come away on top.
Having been replaced by an all new model in 2016, the XFR has now become a serious second hand performance bargain.
Which Jaguar XFR to buy?
The XFR was offered solely in four-door saloon body style and featured a six-speed automatic gearbox at launch. Suspension settings were 30% firmer than the less sporting cars in the range, but the XFR remained a comfortable cruiser. The e-diff and taut chassis only really made themselves felt when the dynamic mode was engaged. This opened up the exhaust too, while the transmission would hold onto each gear for longer.
Outwardly not much changed with the XFR until the mid-life facelift in 2011. The interior received higher quality trim, and the front and rear bumpers were updated.
Mechanically the 503bhp supercharged V8 was left unchanged, and some specialists took advantage of the engine’s latent abilities by offering ECU and exhaust upgrades to unleash a further 70-90bhp for not much outlay. Customers looking for a Jaguar sanctioned upgrade would have to wait until the release of the 542bhp XFR-S in 2013. Its more aggressive styling and massive wing may not be to everyone’s tastes, but the 4.4sec 0-60 time was universally appreciated.
The same year saw the introduction of the new eight-speed automatic transmission, retaining the steering mounted paddles but offering smoother changes and slightly improved emissions.
Being the top XF offering, the XFR came well equipped but value adding options to look out for are the upgraded Bowers and Wilkins sound system (later switched to Meridian) and adaptive cruise control. Choosing a model comes down to personal taste and there is enough choice to hold out for a desirable colour/specification combination. Early cars had slightly fiddly touchscreen interfaces but mechanically any year is a good one and you should rather focus on condition, number of owners and history.
Performance and specs
Engine 5000cc, 32 valve DOHC supercharged V8
Power 503bhp @ 6000-6500rpm
Torque 461lb ft @ 2500-5000rpm
Top speed 155mph (limited)
0-62mph 4.9 seconds
Fuel consumption 22.6mpg
Gearbox six-speed automatic
Dimensions and weight
• Having just ended production, parts and service items are widely available and there are a number of Jaguar specialists who can service your XFR at reasonable labour rates should you choose not to use the main dealer.
• Used values may be low but maintenance costs for a heavy supercharged V8 do not get any lower with the age of the car – so keep an eye out for cars with patchy service histories.
• The 5.0-litre supercharged motor has been largely trouble-free. Servicing should be done every 15,000 miles or annually, and if you are looking at a higher mileage example the 105,000 mile service is pricey, so factor this into your offer.
• ECU remapping and replacement exhausts can liberate a fair amount more power from the under-stressed motor, but watch out for abused cars or badly modified examples.
• Both the earlier six-speed and later eight-speed transmissions are reliable but oil changes at 50,000 miles to keep changes smooth are recommended by specialists.
• Exuberant use of the right foot will see you visiting the pumps regularly; rear tyres are expensive and can wear out pretty quickly as can the rear brake pads as they are used by the traction control system to keep things pointing forwards.
• Front brakes can wilt under heavy use and a judder under braking or warped rotors can indicate a hard life.
• The E-diff has been known to cause issues on some cars so a once over by a specialist can help to ensure all is well with the car.
• Check for play in the steering rack and uneven tyre wear as lower control arms and bushes tend to wear out at higher mileages and can adversely affect tyre wear and handling.
2009: 503bhp XFR range topper introduced
2011: Special edition XFR100 launched in black with dark grey alloys. Mid-life face-lift to interior and exterior carried out
2013: 2013 Updates included new eight-speed gearbox. Optional speed pack raising top speed to 174mph. XFR-S with 542bhp released
2015: Final year of XF and XFR production
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• www.xfforum.co.uk – Jaguar XF forum
• www.jaguarownersclub.com – Jaguar owners club
• www.xjkltd.co.uk – Independent Jaguar Specialists
Summary and prices
Prices range from just under £18,000 for a 2009 XFR to £38,000 for one of the final 2015 cars. The XFR-S, introduced in 2013, is significantly rarer and asking prices can be up to £50,000. Mileages may be high on older cars but the thing to look out for is a comprehensive service history, shortcuts here can cost a lot down the road. For our money a face-lifted 2011 model with under 50,000miles on the clock seems like excellent value at £25,000.
Still offering a beguiling combination of pace and comfort, the XFR can hold its head high amongst even the current crop of super saloons. At prices like these it is a no-brainer for the family man with a need for speed in an understated package.
Words: John Tallodi