It’s been called “the fastest, most powerful production sports car Jaguar has ever built.” In other words, it had us at “hello.”
This beautiful feline – offered as both a coupe and a proper ragtop – has been in the wind for the better part of a year, but only recently landed in Canada. We called Jaguar, sweet-talked them, gave up some first-borns, and convinced them to hand over the keys. It certainly beat driving our desks for the day.
Think of the XKR-S as a once-delicate Miss Universe contestant who suddenly decided to take up ballet, Mixed Martial Arts and an addiction to whey protein shakes. The gentle XK has been transformed into something more agile, more driver-focused and just a little bit scary. It’s billed as a “sub-exotic,” not quite a Lambo or Ferrari, but still capable of 0-96 km/h in 4.2 seconds and a full 300 km/h.
Walking up to this cat, you know it’s got some sharp claws. The rear spoiler’s the most obvious hint, but there’s also a lower ride height, carbon-fibre add-ons and those front “nacelles” (didn’t Kirk’s Enterprise have those?) Ian Callum, Design Director of Jaguar Cars, said, “the physics required to achieve 300km/h have led the aesthetic; if you don’t like the way it looks, you probably won’t like the way it drives either.”
But we do.
WATCH: The Jaguar XKR-S
This Jag’s got a stiff upper lip, more so than anything else from the British marquee in recent memory. In other words, the XKR-S is meant to be driven and handled with a decided firmness (do avoid potholes with that recalibrated steering, though.) Built from a featherweight aluminium architecture, the car feels more alive than any six-figure sporting machine we’ve piloted in recent memory. Maybe even a little dangerous in the sweaty clutches of a ham-fisted driver.
The 5.0-litre supercharged V8 under that long bonnet (‘hood’ in Limey-speak) has been extensively recalibrated and bolts on all kinds of new plumbing to allow for another 40 lb-ft of torque and horsepower over the standard XKR. This means that, in total, you’ve got 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. And the pièce de résistance? The new active sports exhaust system. Witnesses say they could here us coming back to the office blocks away.
“Duality” is one of XKR-S’ goals, i.e. a car that can drive to the famed Nürburgring in total comfort, but still turn a benchmark sub-eight minute lap. As such, the interior still possesses an intimate, luxurious space, complete with a red start button that pulses “like a heartbeat,” new features and trim (like the carbon leather accents), a new steering wheel and snug performance front seats. Our favourite feature? The way the Jaguar Drive Selector rises from the centre console when you stab that start button. Drama…
Only 15 examples of the $139,000 XKR-S Coupe are bound for Canada ($146,000 if you prefer to go topless).