May 23, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Thursday, 11 August 2011 14:25
Picture this: All week long, during the hottest time of the year, you’ve been driving a 1990s-vintage compact car with nearly 200,000 miles on the odometer. The air conditioner hasn’t worked in years. The car has an annoying habit of stalling at traffic lights. Then, all of a sudden, you find yourself at the wheel of a 2011 Jaguar XKR, tearing down Interstate 684 under sunny skies toward a relative’s beach house in Point Lookout, Long Island. Does it get any better than that?
Probably not. And the Jaguar at the core of the experience is more than exciting enough to deliver maximum driving pleasure, without being so exotic as to induce fear at every little pothole or distracted driver.The XKR is the middle-of-the-road XK, featuring a 510-horsepower supercharged engine, six-speed shiftable automatic transmission with paddles on the steering wheel, and a hatchback-style tailgate that manages not to detract from the familiar, delicious Jaguar styling.
The XK’s main competitors are the Mercedes-Benz SL and the Porsche 911. Also in the hunt are the 530-horsepower Nissan GT-R, and don’t forget to check out the Chevrolet Corvette Z06.
Priced from $84,000 for the base XK coupe to $132,000 for the 550-horsepower XKR-S coupe, the XK also is available as a soft-top convertible. Engine choices include V-8s across the board, starting at 385 horsepower.
Jaguar nods to functionality by including a tiny, child-sized back seat in the XK, as well as a long, comparatively spacious trunk with a shallow tray under the main floor. Capacity is 11.1 cubic feet.
As one would expect of this $96,125 coupe, the ride, handling and power delivery are exquisite. Road noise from the low-profile tires is discernible, but engine, transmission and wind noise are well muted. The XKR’s road manners inspire confidence. For all its staggering power numbers, it utterly lacks the brutish feel of some of the stupid-fast muscle cars we’ve driven. Cruising at 70 to 80 mph, with a sense that the XKR would go twice that fast if asked, was enough.
We were able to eke out about 21 mpg, using premium gasoline. The XKR is rated at 15 mpg city, 22 highway.
Getting into and out of the low-slung XKR challenged some of our older drivers, but once inside, the impression was one of ample room, comfort and refinement.
Crash-test and reliability data aren’t available. Perhaps in response to Jaguar’s reputation for quirky behavior, corporate owner Tata Motors is providing Platinum Coverage for five years or 50,000 miles, replacing wear items as well as doing warranty repairs. Our XKR had a couple interior trim issues, including a cargo cover that wouldn’t stay mounted to the hatchback, but no other signs of trouble.
So we’re back from Point Lookout and once again behind the wheel of our balky 1990s compact, but the XKR, like most of the Jaguars we’ve driven over the years, left its share of indelible and pleasant memories.
Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V-8, 510 horsepower, 461 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 6-speed shiftable automatic
Acceleration, 0-60: 4.6 seconds
Weight: 3,968 lb.
Suspension: double-wishbone front and rear, active
Wheels: 20x8.5-in. and 20x9.5-inc. rear twin 5-spoke front alloy wheels (optional)
Tires: front, Dunlop SportMaxx 255/35ZR20; rear, Dunlop SportMaxx 285/30ZR20 (optional)
Seating capacity: 4
Luggage capacity: 11.1 ft.
Fuel capacity: 16.1 gallons
Fuel economy: 15 mpg city, 22 mpg highway
Fuel type: premium
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