First drive: Jaguar XKR-S convertible review (with video blast!)

Friday, 2 March 2012 1:20 PM

Jaguar XKR-S convertible

The Jaguar XKR-S convertible makes one of the finest, deadliest noises known to man!

Ah, so this is what the end of the world sounds like! With the roof retracted, the road open and empty and the bhp-taps firmly turned, the Jaguar XKR-S opens its 5-litre lungs with the sort of chest-beating thrapp that was once the reserve of Spitfires on full-bore. And it’s just delicious, as I think our quick video below proves. But before we get into that…


First impressions:
I’m a big fan of this biggest of big cat’s styling. Yes, it’s in your face and no this Italian Racing Red paint job isn’t my favourite; it’s French Blue for me, please, but there’s just no denying that the XKR-S throbs with the kind of presence that offends the elderly and terrifies children. It’s the ultimate Jag, and this beast is at the top of the food chain.

Wide, cut, slashed and vented; spoiler’d and splitter’d, and rolling on vast 20-inch Vulcan alloys, that even with wicked rubber width out back can’t tame the pounding supercharged torque. Styling-wise, this super-GT clearly earns its “R-S” badges.

For me, there’s just no avoiding a smile of anticipation – tinged with a little fear – every time I approach this Jaguar with keyfob in hand. Sure, it’s £103,000, but you can spend a hell of a lot more on a car, and there’s not much else so classically good-looking and with a full-fat, proud Jaguar flavour. It’s a triple measure of expensive vodka served in a stylish glass, with a massive twist of fresh chilli-hit.


Into the interior:
I tend to judge a car by its seats and these Jaguar bucket seats are lashed in soft leather with careful stitching meeting every edge, they move in every electric direction, and get a stirring stamp of “R-S” above their wide shoulders.

The steering wheel isn’t the prettiest, the sat-nav wasn’t exactly easy to fathom when concentration had switched from road signs to corner apexes, and some of the switches are a little on the plastic side. But, overall there’s a look, feel and smell of general opulence that would surely keep most of us mere mortals comfy, cosseted and just a touch smug, and as soon as the sun gives me the vaguest glint I drop that black fabric roof quick and breathe deep the joys of fast-Jag-life.


The drive:
Fire up the 5-litre, supercharged V8 motor - with a prod of the Start button - and a deep, chocolatey throb drives the birds from the countryside trees in our British back lane driver’s paradise.

A light poke of the throttle rocks the XKR-S in time with the big beating pistons; the sure and exciting sign of a large capacity V8 engine. However, throttle response is quick and crisp; a lazy V8 it ain’t.

A “barking” exhaust might sound like a bit of a cliché in car world, but the Jaguar engineers really have made the most of the engine’s spent combustion gases; an aural explosion that’s bordering on the rude.

Roll the twisting, metal gear selector to D and I pootle out of the lay-by. I decide to let the big cat cruise for a while; warming the brakes and tyres, having already driven the XKR-S coupe and knowing full well what’s waiting to roar under the wide vented bonnet.

The XKR-S convertible feels like a smooth-cruising GT car when you waft on and off the throttle; it rides quietly for road, wind and (mostly!) engine noise when the tacho is reading low, and the 6-speed sequential gearbox makes calm work of the shifting.

Picking up some speed, and assured suspension, wide tyres and biting brakes quickly cap-off the dashes between corners, and while she’s no go kart, the extensive use of aluminium equals a respectable kerb weight of 1753kg. To put this into context, the new, uber Ferrari F12 Berlinetta weighs in at 1525kg (dry), and that’s been built to huge expense with the very lightest and dearest of chassis and body materials. The Ferrari doesn’t have an electric convertible roof, either.

The torque and speed-pick-up from the XKR-S - in any gear and at any revs - backed up by that wonderful back-box-bark, is its true point of impression. With 680Nm (501lb ft) of torque, the supercharged V8 has massive reserves of acceleration shove whenever you want it. And with that addictive soundtrack ringing in my ears I just had to have it all the time!

Indeed, 60mph in 4.2secs and 186mph has surely never sounded so delightfully deadly.


Ten second sum up:
The Jaguar XKR-S convertible is a thunderingly fast and exciting GT car that can waft and attack with equal aplomb. It’s exterior styled with the volume knob set to 11, while inside, for me, the interior scores a very solid 8 out of 10. If £103,000 is your absolute maximum car-buying budget, this could indeed be the only car you’ll need.


Prices and availability:
The Jaguar XKR-S range starts at £97,000 for the coupe and £103,000 for the convertible. Available now.

Dan, the TotallyMotor editor, enjoys the wind in his “hair” in the Jaguar XKR-S convertible. Seen here in Italian Racing Red, with the world warping behind it!

The end of the world comes out here!

20-inch Vulcan alloys with (thankfully!) big brakes behind

Rear spoiler with carbonfibre centre plane

Wide-shouldered “R-S” buckets are a posterior treat

The rotating gear and driving mode selector

By Daniel Anslow

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