Open Season: Jaguar XKR Convertible


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.






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Comments (43) Join the discussion on the forum

  • DSLiverpool 09 Feb 2011

    bl5150 said:
    In terms of feeling detached I can understand that if you are after a sports car but if you're after a GT (or 4 door in the XFR's case)with very sporty intentions then , for example , it's no more detached than my recent 5.5L V8 Merc CLK and I don't mind it.

    Your XFR gearbox does sound a worry though. The XFR has had almost universally good press and Jaguar are well acknowledged for getting the best out of the wonderful ZF auto. If it's "hormonal" I wouldn't discount there being an issue with yours because mine in the XKR is a ripper and sounds great.

    A test drive in an XKR (and perhaps another XFR) will make up your mind.

    Edited by bl5150 on Monday 7th February 22:12


    Edited by bl5150 on Monday 7th February 22:20
    Ive driven about 5 XFR`s now - all the same, the gearbox says drop a cog sod the torque in normal mode, in sport mode its just nuts, I dont want a balls out racer and the Jag aint a balls out racer but the gearbox thinks it is. Just tried a XKR and have now driven 3 5.0`s SC and they need a Fuse 22 (Aston speak) removal option, they are too quiet unless nearing peak revs. An aftermarket exhaust on a new car isnt a good idea - pity

  • bl5150 07 Feb 2011

    In terms of feeling detached I can understand that if you are after a sports car but if you're after a GT (or 4 door in the XFR's case)with very sporty intentions then , for example , it's no more detached than my recent 5.5L V8 Merc CLK and I don't mind it.

    Your XFR gearbox does sound a worry though. The XFR has had almost universally good press and Jaguar are well acknowledged for getting the best out of the wonderful ZF auto. If it's "hormonal" I wouldn't discount there being an issue with yours because mine in the XKR is a ripper and sounds great.

    A test drive in an XKR (and perhaps another XFR) will make up your mind.

    Edited by bl5150 on Monday 7th February 22:12


    Edited by bl5150 on Monday 7th February 22:20

  • DSLiverpool 07 Feb 2011

    Hmmm My XFR sounds crap, has a hormonal gearbox and feels "detached" - surely a XKR with the same box and engine cannot be so much better ? I am very interested in an XKR but I really cannot believe its so much better than the XFR. Can anyone with inside knowledge enlighten me ?

  • TRUENOSAM 06 Feb 2011

    Driven many and still love the noise

  • Tom Clarke 06 Feb 2011


    I'm not entirely sure why we're comparing any of the Jaguar XK range to a 911? An Aston Martin DB9, BMW M6 or even the Maserati Gran Turismo would be a more helpful comparison. I know it's easy to use the Porsche 911 as a yard stick for sports cars, but the Jag and the above cars aren't out and out sports cars, they're grand tourers, with lots of horsepower.

    If you want to compare the performance of the 911GT3 with the XKR cab, it's only fair that you also mention the fact that the 911GT3 has no boot, no back seats (although the ones in the jag are useless for anyone over the age of twelve) and also no convertible roof.

    Comparing the XKR, which I used to own, to a more logical competitor, say the BMW M6, which I now own as my daily drive, the Jag's a smoother, softer more comfortable place to be, and the interior is a little less vulgar than the M6's. I also think the jag is better looking than the unimaginatively styled M6, although that's a matter of taste, and having any.

    In terms of the driving experience, on a day to day basis the Jag's gearbox is far better than the M6's SMG, which is impossible to park with and in automatic mode near useless. However, on a sweeping B road when the mood takes you the BMW delivers miles more excitement. Compared to the Jags V8, even with that amazing supercharger whine the BMW's V10 sounds epic, and revs to 8000rpm, with the jag interfering when you get near 6000. When you put the jag into a corner enthusiastically it feels much to soft, and doesn't give you any confidence in the cars ability, whereas the M6 handles superbly, for a car of it's weight, and then settles down to a great day to dayer again when you want it to.

    The reason I sold my XKR and bought an M6, is because the Jag was too soft through the windy stuff and the steering was to detached. Having owned both, I'd say the Jag does the day to day stuff better than the BMW, but the BMW does the quick stuff a lot better than the Jag.

    I wouldn't expect either car to perform like a 911, and I wouldn't expect a 911 to be as practical as either. The M6 is good, but the XKR remains for me, the reason I'll probably never buy an Aston, and with the roof down, it's got to be one of the best all rounder cabs I've ever driven.


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