Jaguar XKR Convertible

Recently, North Texas had a week that was unseasonably warm, especially enjoyable after all that ice and snow. You can imagine my surprise when my test vehicle turned out to be a convertible. Had it been delivered during the freezing temperature, I would have left it parked for much of the time. However, with mid-70 and 80-degree temperatures beckoning me, it was impossible to resist having that top down every time I was behind the wheel. To top it off, this was a new Jaguar XKR – the top-of-the-line turbo-charged model.

This is the fifth year for Jaguar to provide the XK model, with very minor changes. Why should they spoil a great car by changing it? It has been tweaked a little bit each year, but the XK and the supercharged XKR remains a gorgeous and high-performance entry into the luxury sports car line-up.

The Jaguar XKR has beautiful styling and a head-turning appearance, but the power under the hood is the real story. The supercharged R model boasts a 510 horsepower, V8 engine. Power is instantly available, whether you are standing still or mildly cruising down the highway. The power is transferred from the engine to the rear wheels by a smooth six-speed automatic transmission. Paddle shifters are unobtrusively placed behind the steering wheel and are so instantly responsive, they beg to be used.

The 510 hp V8 engine is a monster. For a sports car, it rivals the best models available with a 4.5 second time from 0 to 60. No, I did not try it specifically, but it is difficult to restrain yourself when the light turns green and no one is in front of you. The punch factor is also present when driving down the road at highway speeds. Even a light push on the pedal and the car is suddenly passing everyone else, causing me to look more closely for local gendarmes.

This was a convertible and is an absolute joy to drive as a convertible, whether in slow traffic in town or out on the open road at hair-blowing-off speeds. The simple one touch button takes the fully closed vehicle to fully open in less than 30 seconds, which is plenty of time to accomplish at most traffic signals. The front windows roll down, the back windows roll down, the trunk opens to the front, the top begins to fold up and back, the top lowers into the storage compartment, the trunk lid lowers nicely and seals against the back of the seating area, and you twist the steering knob to “D” and take off.

Having the top down reduces the trunk space by a few cubic feet, but there was not much there to begin with. Remember, this is a sports car and not the family sedan. Most of the time, I was able to place all my carry items in the trunk area so they wouldn’t blow away with the top down. However, a few times, I had to use the rear seat area for a box or case because it would not fit in the trunk. But that was a very minor trade-off for driving a sports car convertible.

The Jaguar XKR, like other “R” models, adds high-performance brakes with the high-performance engine. This not only improves stopping power when needed, but also adds more a more aggressive suspension setup, and that provides a firmer ride and less body roll. It also lowers the ride heights. The XKR is certainly low to the ground, as sports cars are, and climbing in and out is not as easy for me as it was when I was a few years younger. But if you asked me if I objected to that, the instant answer would be “No.”
There is a laundry list of standard equipment including a multi-adjustable driver’s seat, power tilt & telescoping steering wheel, 19-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, nice leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, and a touch screen control interface. The burled walnut wood trim was beautiful, the powered seat switches were great, and the soft suedecloth wrapped around the windshield pillars and across the top of the windshield was a great touch.

There were very few things that I could find to complain about while driving such an enjoyable and beautiful car like the Jaguar XKJ, but two items stand out. First, the rear seating is for small children only. It is there for emergency trips or for additional storage of cargo. Second, the navigation and electronic interface screen was difficult to use. It was necessary to go through a displayed menu to locate the sub-menu, such as Audio, Climate, or Nav, and then further navigate to the heated seats or fan controls. Attempting to locate and tune to a specific radio station took much too long. Possibly with time, this would be more intuitive for the driver, but it is not a simple push of a button or turn of a knob.

The “R” model is different from the regular XK model by the addition of air intakes on the hood, quad exhaust pipes, and more creases on the hood. The EPA mileage ratings for the Jaguar XKR are 15-mpg city and 22-mpg highway. The MSRP includes destination charges and five-year warranty coverage, scheduled maintenance, and 24/7 roadside assistance. Bottom sticker price on my test model was $103,000.

Measured from any way you want to add up the figures, the Jaguar XKR is terrific. It comes with a car company history, it has performance capability, and the beautiful design always stands out in a crowd. The supercharged V8 is there when you need it or want it, but it is capable for everyday driving as well. Check out the XK, the XKR, or the XKR convertible yourself. See if you agree with my thinking – this is a car for the ages.

By Alan Gell - MyCarData