By: Mike Ginsca
Model: Diana P.
The Jaguar XK model is now in its 2nd and, unfortunately, final generation of production. This second generation model was the precedent for all-new forthcoming Jaguar cars. It featured a new styling language for Jaguar and a completely new body structure. But before it went into the history books, Jaguar created a special edition XKR-S model as a last “hoorah” for the model.
Performance – The Jaguar XK is one of the few cars out there that has managed to fend off from receiving a smaller and more economical engine such as a V6 or turbocharged inline 4. If anything, the size of the V8 engines that were offered with the XK have grown and have had supercharges added to them. The biggest V8 engine that Jaguar put in the XK is a 5.0L supercharged unit which is coincidentally under the hood of this XKR-S. It produces 550hp and 502 lb-ft of torque with the industry standard 0-100km/h test getting done in just 4 seconds but sadly the top speed is electronically limited… to 300km/h. Like most Jaguar V8 engines, this 5.0L is smooth, responsive, and feels almost like it’s American made due to the abundance of low end and mid-range torque. You have to be gentle with the throttle when accelerating from a stop light in a city because the torque will easily overwhelm the tires and the traction control light will be flashing like it’s the 4th of July. Another great attribute of this engine is the noise that it makes. It still has a nice V8 rumble but it crackles and snarls when you take your foot off the throttle. It is a very intoxicating noise and sometimes you just want to put the transmission into “Sport” mode with manual override and never leave 2nd and 3rd gears. Speaking of shifting, the transmission is a ZF made 6-speed unit with Jaguar’s sequential shift and JaguarDrive selector. ZF is world renowned for making the best automatic transmissions and this one in the Jaguar XKR-S is no exception. Smooth shifting under normal driving conditions but fast and responsive when you want to have some fun.
Although the Jaguar XKR-S tips the scales at 1600kg, it is still lighter than its rivals from Germany. The, relatively, light weight was possible due to a new all aluminum construction that included the chassis and body work. This reduced weight, coupled with the ferocious power from the engine, means that the XKR-S is very quick around a twisty mountain road. It surprisingly feels nimble around corners as steering response is quick but the steering feel is just a tad on the vague side because in the end it is still a GT car. It probably won’t out-corner a Porsche 911 but when compared with its direct competitors from BMW and Mercedes-Benz, it is leaps and bounds better.
Comfort – Jaguar cars have always had the reputation of being exquisitely designed and feature the most luxurious interiors of any vehicle. The Jaguar XKR-S is a little bit different though. In their attempt to make a GT car into a sports car, the XKR-S features some non-traditional luxury amenities. The sports seats for example offer plenty of side bolstering when carving around a corner but they may not be the most suitable type of seats for a long distance trip. Wood trim is replaced by black piano and aluminum trim while the seats are covered in rich British leather but with a trim that is made to look like carbon fiber. Sound insulation is also lacking compared to other models but with the exhaust noise coming from the engine, I’m not one to complain about excess engine noise.
The design of the interior is also non-traditional and is more in tune with the technologies of the 21st century. Satellite navigation, touchscreen controlled climate control, and phone connectivity are the norm but the stand out feature of modern Jaguar cars is the JaguarDrive selector. As you depress the brake pedal when entering the car, the center console mounted push button start pulsates red as though it were the beating heart of a fierce animal. Pressing it brings the engine to life as you hear the V8 burble underneath the hood and the gear selector rises from the center console. The starting procedure alone of this Jaguar XKR-S involves more drama than its German rivals can ever infuse into their vehicles. One thing that may annoy some drivers is the design of the steering wheel. The top and bottom of the steering wheel has a good sized diameter but at the 9 and 3 positions, the diameter increases and the wheel feels bulky. This is a trait that is unfortunately shared with most Jaguar models.
Odds and Ends – To set the XKR-S apart from other XK models, Jaguar has given it a lot of sporty credentials to the exterior. It has a carbon fiber rear spoiler and diffuser, larger exhaust tips, a carbon fiber front lip, air channeling ducts on the side of the front bumper, and special “Vulcan” 20” wheels. All these additions, along with the blue paint which is ironically called French Racing Blue, make the Jaguar XKR-S stand out like a sore thumb everywhere it goes. That’s not to say that it’s a bad thing but if you want to be incognito, this is not the car to be in.
Taking a GT car and turning it into a sports car is nothing new these days but Jaguar’s attempt at doing this has resulted in a memorable and obnoxiously brash vehicle. It’s not a proper sports car like the Porsche 911 but it can keep up with the best of them and it still retains some aspects of a luxury GT car. The Jaguar XKR-S blends the lines between a sports car and a luxury GT with lightweight agility and good old fashioned brute power.
Thank you to Autoform Performance Inc. for providing the car.