Monday 28th February 2011


JLR's ride and handling guru on Jaguar's hardcore new XKR-S

With the new 186mph Jaguar XKR-S set to be one of the stars of the Geneva motor show, we thought we'd ask the man responsible for how it drives, er how it drives...

PistonHeads: So what's the thinking behind bringing in a sportier XK to the range?

Mike Cross: We wanted to create the fastest XK ever, but without losing the duality of a Jaguar - the ability to combine refinement with huge levels of performance.

In fact, the XKR-S is probably the most 'track-capable' car we've ever made (even more so than the XKR 75), but it's also a great car for covering long distances fast. It's the sort of car that you could drive to the Nurburgring, do a quick lap or two, and then drive back, without the car ever feeling out of its depth.

The XK range has also evolved a lot since the last time we did an XKR-S back in 2008. Obviously, that car had the old 4.2-litre V8 and the new one has the 5.0-litre engine, but there have also been various dynamic improvements, such as the introduction of the E-diff electronic differential and improved, variable dampers.

PH: So how does the new car relate to the XKR 75 special edition from last year?

MC: Apart from the extra power and torque (up 19bhp to 542bhp and 18lb ft to 501lb ft), the 'S' is actually very close in concept to the 75. It uses extremely similar chassis settings, for example, including the stiffened front and rear suspension and the same revised rear suspension upright. There is a slight difference in the software for the adaptive dynamics system, too.

PH: One major point of difference is the more extroverted look of the car. What's the thinking behind that? Is it functional or cosmetic?

MC: I think it's a bit of both, really. I can't speak for Julian Thompson or Ian Callum (the Jaguar's designers), but from an engineering point of view there is a small benefit to performance and high-speed stability.

PH: Can we expect to see the 'S' treatment extended to any other cars in the range, the XFR, for instance?

MC: I think we'll have to see what sort of reception the XKR-S gets first, but we could well work up a similar treatment with other cars... but we have no official plans.

PH: The PR for the new car is full of lines about how the XKR-S is the fastest production Jaguar in history. It also has 542bhp - the same as a certain famous supercar. How does it compare with the XJ220?

MC: The XJ220 was a bit before my time, really, but that car was more about top speed anyway; the XKR-S is more about creating a super-fast GT car that's as at home on the track as it is on the autobahn.

We also asked Mike about just how fast, on a point-to-point basis, the new XKR-S is, but he wouldn't be drawn. We do hear, however, that the XKR-S ought to be capable of a sub-eight-minute lap of the 'Ring, should Jaguar see fit to put a stopwatch on it at some point...

Author: Riggers
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