This is how the English do muscle cars, five-star luxury with supercar performance and looks to kill.
- 2010 Jaguar XKR; 5.0-litre, V8, supercharged petrol; six-speed automatic; two-door coupe - $255,000*
Words by Anthony Crawford Photos by Anthony Crawford, Alborz Fallah & George Skentzos
If the superseded Jaguar XKR 4.2-litre lacked anything, it was torque during mid-range acceleration. That’s all been fixed, with a new sledgehammer-like 5.0-litre all aluminium quad-cam V8, supercharged of course.
Step on the throttle unmercifully, and you can’t help but light up the massive rear tyres, as all of 625 Newton-metres and 375 Kilowatts attempts to find its way down onto the tarmac.
That’s substantially more than its non-supercharged XK sibling, which develops just 283 kilowatts. That’s courtesy of the highly efficient sixth-generation twin vortex supercharger with twin intercoolers.
My first decent and prolonged prod of the throttle, and I’m muttering to myself, “this thing’s got some serious mumbo”. Better still, it’s all on tap from 2500 rpm through to 5500 rpm.
It feels every bit the 4.8 second car it is from 0-100km/h, or if you like, slightly quicker that the considerably more expensive Maserati GranTurismo S.
Some would even argue that the XKR is also considerably more beautiful than the Maserati, with its smooth flowing lines, wide rear track and subtle styling hints from the legendary E-Type Jaguar.
For all its good looks, it has an imposing presence on the road; from the ultra wide rear guards and its low-slung stance, along with four extra large exhaust tips, looking more like a GT racer than a luxury Grand Tourer.
So it’s no surprise then that the stunning new JaguarRSR XKR GT prepared for the 2010 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) uses the standard XKR lightweight aluminium monocoque and their own naturally aspirated 5.0 litre AJV8 engine, which puts out 410kW (550 hp) @ 7000 rpm and will hit 290 km/h (180 MPH) down the straights.
The car also weighs in at a super-light 1245 kilograms. That said should we expect a limited edition XKR RSR production model with some extra kilowatts and a roll cage? I’d love to think so.
Back to the stock XKR and there’s absolutely no throttle hesitation whatsoever (it was the same story with the previous XKR 4.2), you punch it, the rubber bites down hard and you’re gone baby gone!
Credit for the quick off-the-grid starts must go the Active Differential Control, a fully automatic system, which varies the amount of torque sent to each wheel, and the reason why there is so much traction from an all out standing start.
And as brilliant as the Bowers & Wilkins audio system is (and it’s nothing short of sensational) it doesn’t come close on the fun scale to the induction roar when you’re up around 4000 rpm.
I thought I’d miss the supercharger whine (there isn't any), but the mechanical concerto that ensues simply demands that you lower the driver’s window, and maintain that position until you arrive at your destination.
Launched in 2006, the current shape of the XK and XKR has changed little over those last four years, but it’s the interior in this latest iteration, which has had a complete facelift, Jaguar XF style.
Gone is the English private club look, and in its place an ultra modern business-like blend of leather, knurled aluminium and authentic dark oak veneer housing the unique JaguarDrive Selector.
It’s all beautifully laid-out and uncluttered, due to most systems being controlled by functions within the easy to use touch screen. It's also got one of the best in-car satellite navigation systems I’ve ever used.
You can’t fault the top-shelf materials either, Jaguar has employed nothing but the best from plush carpets, which also make their way onto the door trim, to the twin-needle stitched leather covering much of the interior surface.
The super-soft Alcantara headliner is another standout feature inside the XKR, as is the hand stitched three-spoke sports steering wheel embossed with the “R” logo, an absolute treat.
But enough on the luxury kit, I’m keen to know how the big cat handles the thirty-kilometre twist-fest through the Royal National Park to Stanwell Tops.
It’s a good thing that Jaguar chose to up the power stakes in the XKR, because my colleagues will be tailing me in a Bentley Continental Supersports, the only one in Australia I might add, so I won’t be holding back.
And like many roads in NSW, the route is not overly well maintained, but that should tell us a good deal about the suspension set-up in the XKR.
As I pull up to the entrance to park, the attendant asks for the usual fee to enter, but is told in a thoroughly polite manner that “we won’t be stopping luv”, its straight through to Stanwell Tops and the Sea Bridge at Coalcliff.
While its been a rather relaxed drive in the XKR to this point in the standard ‘D’ for drive mode, the tempo is about to get a whole lot quicker, so I’ve pulled off the side of the road to make a few adjustments.
One click to the right with the Drive Selector to engage sport mode, and I’m switching on Dynamic Mode via the small chequered flag button, for a faster throttle response and quicker gearshifts.
But I’ll be using the paddle shifters on this run, which I find more useful on twisty roads such as this.
Five minutes into it, and I'm thinking it’s a better road than I remember, and the Jag is seriously quick out of these corners, but already, I’d like less power assistance in the steering. There’s no issue with accuracy or response though, I’d just like more weight for even greater feel and control on those early Sunday morning drives out of town.
For a large car though, I’m gob smacked at how nimble the XKR feels, you can throw it in and out of bends, as if you were driving an MX-5.
There are a few decent length straight sections out of some very tight corners, and the XKR’s acceleration from point-to-point is downright explosive.
The traction control seems to be having a field day in the hairpins, but thankfully, it’s allowing the back end to step out a little, which Alborz confirms from his position behind me in the Bentley.
Nonetheless you can feel the massive 285/30 series Dunlop SP Sport Maxx rubber bite down with huge grip on a fairly average surface.
But its not all about the tyres with the XKR, equally accountable, is the superbly balanced chassis and Jaguar’s latest generation Adaptive Dynamics, which is partly why the XF is such a good four-door steer.
It’s a complex system of monitoring, which in tern, controls the car’s damping rates through the measurement of vertical movement, roll rate and pitch rate to the tune of 100 times a second.
Hitting some of these corners at speed, the Jag turns in perfectly and there is nil body roll. For a big front engine car, that’s enormously satisfying.
And as planted as the XKR is on all sections of this drive route, at no stage is there any sign of jarring through the body, every pot hole and imperfection (and there are hundreds) is absorbed by the suspension for a comfortable ride.
Again, that’s part of the Adaptive Dynamics, which monitors the wheel position five hundred times a second, to effectively manage the damping rate for control of issues like wheel hop on uneven roads.
You would expect the brakes on the XKR to be good, but not this good. Step on the anchors from seemingly any speed, and you best be prepared for a serious G-force assault on your torso region. There's no brake fade either, none.
If there’s a smoother, quicker and more robust six-speed gearbox than the ZF unit deployed in this car, then I’ll ride a Honda Postie bike to Timbuktu.
For a mid-week drive just one hour from Sydney, the Royal National Park is hard to beat, and over all too soon.
We probably should turned around and driven it again but we were keen to get a few photos on the well publisised Sea Bridge at Coalcliff before heading back to Sydney up the highway.
While the front seats are supple and more than supportive, I would have expected far more side bolster in an “R” spec car, but not once through the twisty bits, did I cry out for more side support, given that you sink further into the seat than most designs.
As traditional Grand Tourers go, the XKR is a proper 2+2, but if you think for one moment that your mother can get into the rear seat, then you're horribly mistaken. If you have kids under 7-years old, then they could probably handle short trips to the shops.
But its a different story if you play golf or are into water sports. Open the rear hatch and there's a tonne of space back there and enough room for several large soft bags and other goods.
If fuel consumption is an issue for you, despite considering the purchase of a performance thoroughbred such as the XKR, don’t stress. After a week of relatively hard charging, my worst reading was 17.2 litres per 100 kilometres, and that’s under the published figure of 18.9 litres/100km for urban usage.
If most of your driving will be to the office each day, then the combined figure of 12.3 litres/100kms would seem entirely reasonable, as would the CO2 emissions of 292 (g/km).
The 2010 Jaguar XKR is intended not as a sports car, but rather as five-star Grand Tourer and with that in mind, it ticks all the boxes and then some.
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