The playboy's choice
Playboy was founded three years later but came to epitomise the new found confidence of America. It was cool and aspirational. So too was Jaguar. This was the era of the C-, D- and E-Type. It was a time when movie star Clark Gable drove an XK120 and Steve McQueen posed happily beside his XKSS. Gable’s car will be at this year’s Concours in a couple of day’s time.
period of expansion.
The car I’ve driven here from San Francisco was the first rallying call of this renaissance. The XK was the first of the modern Jaguars to be designed by Ian Callum and was launched in 2006. Over the past decade or so Callum has grown in confidence and so have his cars. With its multitude of slats and spoilers, my XKR could best be described as ‘pimp’ and not just because it’s dressed in white.
Every since its mid-life facelift introduced a 510hp, supercharged 5.0-litre V8 and a few chassis tweaks, the XKR has been my favourite Jag. The XKR-S might hit slightly harder, but the teatray boot spoiler is not to my tastes and in the pursuit of performance, it’s sacrificed the standard R’s enviable balance of comfort and control.
On the famous Pacific Coast Highway that links San Francisco with Los Angeles, it just feels sorted. You can select Dynamic mode, turn off the stability control and engage in all manner of tomfoolery, or you can just let the systems do their thing and cruise. The ZF automatic gearbox is also happy to play host or let you get busy with the paddle-shifts. So good are the downshifts that the case for all-conquering double-clutch ’boxes appears suddenly weaker.
muscle car progress gave the Jag an easy win.
It might have been around for a while, but it’s still been fascinating to see just how much attention the XKR gets, even before the Playmates arrive. For all its woes and despite selling just 12,276 cars here last year, the Americans retain an affection for Jaguar. It’s a brand that people want to succeed.
This XKR is showing its age - the cabin style and quality feels at least a generation behind the XF and XJ and the gearbox lacks a couple of ratios – but it remains a convincing proposition. If the new F-Type (essentially a cut-down version of the XK), can build on this, then it will be some car. Couple this with the new four-wheel drive XF and XJ – critical for the states in the US snowbelt – and Jaguar should finally have the tools it needs to satisfy to Uncle Sam.