Thursday 3rd February 2011


OPEN SEASON: JAGUAR XKR CONVERTIBLE

Supercharged, super-torquey and super-fun...


Lunging. It's the word that, more than any other, springs irresistibly to mind whenever you drive a Jaguar XKR. A combination of a sharply responsive throttle, lively six-speed ZF auto and, most of all, a prodigious 461lb ft if supercharged torque that's available from 2500rpm all the way to 5500rpm means that the big jag positively leaps forward even with the mildest of provocations.

Generally, this is a good thing - when you want to quickly and safely merge into faster-moving traffic on a multi-lane motorway, for instance, or if you want to leap frog several slow-moving cars along a country road, you can do so with no more than the gentle flexing of your right foot.


Occasionally, however, it can be a pain. If you want to accelerate smoothly but quickly out of a junction in damp or cold conditions, for example, the supercharged V8 can all too easily overwhelm the fat rear tyres and, even with the traction control on, you'll end up wheelspinning down the road like bit of a berk.

Once you've mastered the art of tickling the throttle, however, you'll find that the XKR cab is actually as fine a car for a cosseting cruise as it is for high-speed belt down your favourite road.

It's comfy, relaxing and makes a lovely grumbling burble. With the roof down it will keep you warm even on the coldest of days, courtesy of efficient climate control, heated seats and even a heated steering wheel, while your barnet should remain unruffled even at high speeds, unless you are exceptionally tall, or you take you coiffure cues from Jedward.


Roof up, apart from the sensation that the noises form the outside world are a little louder than they ought to be, you wouldn't know you were in a fabric-roofed car.

The XK's basic design is getting on for five years old now, but the cabin, if anything, is better than it ever has been, as Jaguar seems to have consistently upped both the quality of materials and the fit and finish of them. Okay, so the design isn't as brave as an XF's or an XJ's, and the touchscreen infotainment system feels a bit clunky to use these days, but it generally feels like a classy place to be - if not quite up to the standard you might expect, having just shelled out £83,900 for the privilege of owning one.


But what about the performance credentials? With 503bhp and a 0-60mph time of just 4.6secs, you might reasonably expect the XKR cab to be a bit of a B-road beast. And indeed the XKR is quite a hoot down a challenging road. But if you're expecting 911 GT3 levels of flingability, you will be disappointed.

The XKR is just too big, too soft for that. Task it with one of those clichéd jobs, such as cruising down to the Riviera for a summer break, and it would no doubt be a superb - if fuel-heavy - tool, but on your average British country road it just doesn't seem all that fast.

Curiously, though, this is in no way a criticism of the car. Yes it's big, yes it's soft, and no, you won't be able to go all that fast in it, especially on damp roads with the ESP switched off. But the thing is, you will have a hoot all the same.


The steering, although light, is deliciously accurate and quick-acting, the suspension settles the car quickly into a steady cornering attitude, allowing the braver driver to adjust the car's line on the throttle, and the ZF six-speed auto still works more intuitively and more effectively in a Jaguar than in any other application we've tried.

And with that gurgling 503bhp V8 and pleasingly little supercharger whine the straight bits are, of course, also marvellous, albeit over rather too quickly.

The XKR is, in short, a pretty brilliant soft-top companion. Just don't expect to be able to keep up with a Porsche.






Author: Riggers