2015 is the year of the spies. After the zombie genre faded away into the murky waters of the past, this year we are treated to some of the best spy stories since Daniel Craig showed us how it’s done. As I am sitting here writing away and having a lovely steak, this kind of mindset gets me edgy. The baddies are lurking around the corner. You have less than two minutes to send MI6 sensitive intel. A gun may be holstered underneath the table, and your cellphone may or may not receive an anonymous call from somebody who sounds like Christian Bale on sick leave (Batman). Everything is quiet…for now.
You stand up and leave at a brisk pace. Two minutes later you are sitting in your XFR-S and suddenly, a firefight. Noise, drama, mayhem; an assault to the senses. And all you’ve done is press the ’Start’ button.
When the XF was first introduced in 2007, Jaguar’s bank accounts were as limp as a week- old celery stick. Their accountants picked pennies from fountains and the engineers had to work with Play Doh. The XF was their last shot. And it hit right in the center, just like in a Hollywood flick. Seven years later, the car is still with us, and before it’s replaced by the brand new XF, the men from Birmingham decided to bring forth one last hurrah. Something to violently tear off Jaguar’s past image.
Under way, the XFR-S is surprisingly quiet and comfortable. Obviously, the BMW M5 was the ultimate benchmark, and although some of the plastics and materials are not quite up to par, it gets mighty close to its German rival. With five seats and a sizable boot, it’s quite practical too. Then you begin to notice the details. The eye watering blue paint job, angry stance and a rear wing that looks like it came out from one of NASA’s space programs. Inside you are treated with beautifully cascading contrast stitching, cool aluminium inserts and mood lighting from the TRON franchise. The gear lever rises up from the dash with grace and the A/C vents slowly pivot into view. It all sounds fairly classy and restrained, so you might ask yourself what was all the palaver about earlier on.
Start the engine (press the ’Sport’ button though) and hope that nobody in a four kilometer radius is sleeping. It pops, crackles and gurgles under the slightest twitch of the right foot. Every upshift sounds like the end of the world and the following downshift turns it to dust. How it passed the strict European noise regulations is beyond me.
The XFR-S is like a kitty that makes your drive to the mall feel like an intense car chase with its own soundtrack. It’s something capable of completely drying out every single petrol station in its path, and then leaves it in ruins with an angry rumble. That’s all thanks to a very familiar 5.0 liter supercharged V8 engine producing 550 BHP and enough torque to pull down Mount Everest. It’s a power plant as old as England itself, but it has aged well.
Mated to Jaguar’s wonderful eight speed quick shift automatic, and the result is a car that will happily wag its tail, even at speed. Essentially, what we have here is a British version of the M5: Quiet and comfortable, but brutal to obscene levels with the push of a button.
‘’So why not just buy a BMW then?’’ you might ask. It’s faster, lighter and put together by a nation that invented half of the world. On paper it is the better car however, and as wise people say: ‘’different strokes for different folks’’. If the M5 is like swimming with sharks, the XFR-S is like being thrown in an aquarium with electric eels sporting nothing but a steel suit.
But when it comes down to feeling like a spy for whom danger is just around the corner, there is nothing more satisfying than the sheer brutality and unpredictable nature of the XFR-S. It wants to be driven with courage, and that is its appeal.
Plus, it’s also available as a station wagon so you can completely terrify your family on your travels.