The Truth About Cars » XKR http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 02 Dec 2014 21:43:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » XKR http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Review: 2012 Jaguar XKR-S http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-2012-jaguar-xkr-s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-2012-jaguar-xkr-s/#comments Thu, 15 Mar 2012 16:02:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=434160 At 7 years old, the XK isn’t a kitten anymore – but with a rumored 3 years until the next redesign, what’s a luxury marque to do? Make special editions, of course. On the surface, the XKR-S looks like a baby-boomer dressed like a teenager, or as the Brits put it: mutton dressed as lamb. […]

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At 7 years old, the XK isn’t a kitten anymore – but with a rumored 3 years until the next redesign, what’s a luxury marque to do? Make special editions, of course. On the surface, the XKR-S looks like a baby-boomer dressed like a teenager, or as the Brits put it: mutton dressed as lamb.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The XKR (reviewed last year) looks like sex, in a discrete, black-tie/coquettish sort of way. The XKR-S ditches subtle for brash; hood scoops, large hood vents, enlarged grille, carbon fiber splitter, carbon fiber spoiler, blacked-out trim (chrome is a $4,000 option), and bespoke 20-inch alloy wheels with 255-width Pirelli rubber up front and 295s out back are all part of this exclusive package (only 100 will be sent to America). There’s also a straked diffuser with dual exhausts, special badging and some crazy-looking vents at the leading edge of the front wheel well to improve brake cooling. Oh, and the front bumper seems to have been designed to look like a frown. Moderation is a Jaguar virtue and thankfully the R-S’s chassis is lowered by a scant 0.38 inches meaning we had no problems with steep driveways and speed bumps. So is it all-show-and-no-go? Far from it. All the aero tweaks put together reduce lift by 26%  and make the lift more even fore/aft than in the XKR.

Under the hood growls a lightly modified 5.0L supercharged V8 from the XKR. The quad-cam engine features direct injection, continuously variable valve timing, and a thoroughly modern twin-vortex Roots-type supercharger with twin air-to-water intercoolers tucked under the plastic vanity cover. Should you wish to accessorize your engine bay, Jaguar will swap that cover for one in carbon fiber for a cool $2,000. While the XKR, XFR and XJ Supersport have to make do with only 510HP/461lb-ft from this engine, the “-S” (and $34,000) buys an extra 40 ponies and 41lb-ft. You also get a revised exhaust, a tweaked 6-speed ZF automatic, sportier programming for the active suspension and electronic differential and a host of suspension changes, including fully machined steering knuckles (that increase caster and camber stiffness), increased steering effort, improved steering feedback, and 28% stiffer spring rates.

Back to those 550 horses. The only Porsche in this rarefied club is the Panamera Turbo S, while the only Aston is the One-77. BMW’s M5 and M6 put out 560, and from the bow-tie brand, only the Corvette ZR1 and Camaro ZL1 are more powerful.

The exterior and engine may have been reworked, but on the inside the “-S” boils down to some trim, some modified seats and a 190MPH speedo. In a strange twist, our tester was fitted with the “London Tan” interior, a standard color combo available on the lesser XKR. The XKR-S exclusive interiors are the better choice and feature “carbon fiber effect” leather trim, and bold-colored stitching and piping. The sport seats (optional on XKR) are designed to accommodate a 5-point harness, but aside from the fact they are standard and the “R-S” logos on the tiller and dash, you’d be hard pressed to tell the XKR-S and XKR apart inside. Speaking of not being able to tell the difference, the sport-grip-free steering wheel from the base XK and XF makes an encore in the XKR-S. While it’s not a bad tiller, it doesn’t feel as nice as new XJ’s wheel and the lack of ergonomic thumb grips keeps the XKR-S from feeling as sporty as the BMW and Mercedes competition.

While I’m complaining about the interior, let’s talk infotainment. 2012 has brought essentially no changes to the system shared with the Jaguar XF. The system is simple to use and well laid out but the lag between pressing a “button” and the system responding is long and screen changes are glacial. I appreciate minimalist design in theory, but in practice, putting controls like heated seats and a heated steering wheel in a sluggish system make them more aggravating than trying to stab the right button in a cluttered button bank. While some voice command systems have received harsh commentary from me in the past, I think even a lackluster system is better than none at all as we had to park the XKR-S to enter a navigation destination.

Like the XF, iPod and iPhone integration is well done, easy to use and allows essentially full access to your iDevices. While Mercedes’ COMAND is similarly ancient, Merc does allow voice entry of addresses. I’d like to compare the Jag system to BMW’s newest iDrive, but that’d be like comparing a Palm Pilot to an iPhone. Also on my complaint list is a sound system tuned so bright that even with the treble turned all the way down the Bowers & Wilkins system sounded unbalanced. I didn’t recall this problem in the XKR we drove last year with the same system, so it could be a problem unique to our tester.

Tech quibbles aside; the XKR-S’ raison d’être is not to Tweet or Facebook while commuting. The XKR-S was built for three things: going fast, screaming like a banshee and making passengers wet themselves. If I were a betting man, I’d say it was also designed with the recently announced 560HP M6 in its crosshairs. While the choice of an automatic may seem strange in a sports car, real-world drivability is greatly improved by having a torque converter. If you don’t believe me, just try to drive a Mercedes AMG with a “Speedshift” transmission in stop-and-go traffic up a steep hill. The XKR-S is a willing partner in the mountains, delivering rev-matched downshifts at the flick of a paddle accompanied by exhaust pops and a loud roar sure to spook any cyclists that may be in the middle of your lane. Should that startled tandem tumble, massive steel-and-aluminum monobloc calipers in your choice of red or black paired with upgraded pads and massive 15-inch vented front and 14.8 vented rear rotors stop the XKR-S in record time. Every time.

Jaguar tells us the XKR-S was tuned on the Nürburgring and runs a 7:50 lap in convertible form. Let’s put that in perspective. Over a 17.8 mile long course, an XKR-S will only run a few seconds behind a Ford GT, Lamborghini Gallardo, Lamborghini Murcielago, Ferrari 599 or a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. This shapely lump of hand-stitched leather posted a time faster than the previous generation M5, Ferrari F430, Panamera Turbo, Corvette Z06 and a wide variety of Aston Martins. With numbers like that it should come as no surprise that grip is excellent and limits are high. Aiding in your fun is a re-tuned stability nanny that has a track mode with higher limits than the XKR and a full-off mode should you dare. Yet, it’s not the grip that amused while flinging the XKR-S around the coastal mountains of Northern California, it was the acceleration which can only be described as savage. OK, maybe eye-popping. Possibly brutal. Definitely insane. Putting numbers to these adjectives, we clocked a 3.8 second run to 60 with massive wheel spin, smoke and severe intervention by the electronic differential and traction control software, but most importantly: no roll-out. Because that’s how we roll. Compared to the XKR we tested last year, this is a significant 0.7-0.8 second improvement.

While the XKR-S doesn’t claim to have launch control, we discovered the traction control systems and e-diff work best when you just nail the go-pedal from a stop rather than try to control wheel-spin on your own. Not worrying about lifting to maximize acceleration also allows you to enjoy the raucous noise bellowing out of the tailpipes. By the time the thrill of an automatic with DSG-like gear changes wore off and we did decide to lift, we were at 140 having blown well past the 12-second flat quarter-mile at 122MPH. Numbers like these are pointless without comparison. While the Panamera Turbo S may clock 3.6 second runs to 60 according to the auto-rags, those tests are often conducted with a roll-out. Besides, the XKR-S’s 122MPH 1/4 mile bests the 118 we clocked with a privately owned Panamera we were lent for a few hours.

While I hate to be speculative in any review, the XKR-S’s introduction just months before the new M6 begs at least an arm-chair comparison. A full M6 review will be posted when we can con one out of the Germans. For the rest of you, let’s start with the numbers. The new M6 may deliver 10 more horsepower than the XKR-S, but it is down 2lb-ft of torque compared with the Jag at peak. The curves indicate that BMW is putting some serious boost into their 4.4L V8 with peak power coming on a 6,000RPM and staying strong to 7,000 while peak torque happens at a very low 1,500RPM all the way to 5,750. Jag’s 5.0L engine created its maximum power from 6,000-6,500 RPM and peak torque from 2,500-5,500RPM. The XKR-S fights BMW’s broader bands with zero lag from its supercharger and a 260lb lower curb weight. Of course both Jaguar and BMW are known to quote conservative power figures, so this battle will continue on the track. The M6 will sport BMW’s 7-speed double clutch gearbox known for its fast changes, but I don’t expect it to be any smoother than the model used in the previous generation M5 making the XKR-s the better daily driver. Both the XKR-S and the M6 are similarly balanced in terms of weight, but the Jag wears skinnier rubber up front (255 vs the M6’s standard 265 width tires) and is slightly heavier in the nose, despite the lower curb weight. As a result I expect 0-60 runs will be very close with much of the variation down to the road surface and the final tire choice on the BMW.

 

Without a doubt, the XKR-S is a significant evolution of the standard car. Folksy Briticisms about mutton and lamb don’t apply here; the XKR-S is a predator, much like its feline namesake, and while the “space” part of William Lyons’ famous maxim may be missing, it makes up for it with “grace” and “pace” – lots and lots of it.

Jaguar provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-10: 0.65 Seconds

0-20: 1.14 Seconds

0-30: 1.18 Seconds

0-40: 2.61 Seconds

0-50: 3.24 Seconds

0-60: 3.83 Seconds

0-70: 4.98 Seconds

0-80: 6.06 Seconds

0-90: 7.12 Seconds

0-100: 8.42 Seconds

0-110: 10.17 Seconds

0-120: 11.84 Seconds

1/4 mile: 12.0 @ 122 MPH

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Review: 2011 Jaguar XKR http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/review-2011-jaguar-xkr/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/review-2011-jaguar-xkr/#comments Mon, 17 Jan 2011 22:01:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=380848 In 2007 Jaguar started the most intensive make-over in the brand’s history with the redesigned XK. While the look was drop-dead gorgeous, the interior was more evolution than revolution when you consider the direction the XF and new XJ have taken. Now that the world has managed to catch its breath after the shock of […]

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In 2007 Jaguar started the most intensive make-over in the brand’s history with the redesigned XK. While the look was drop-dead gorgeous, the interior was more evolution than revolution when you consider the direction the XF and new XJ have taken. Now that the world has managed to catch its breath after the shock of the XF and XJ’s ultra-chic modern styling, Jaguar decided to give the XK a thorough refresh in 2010.

The old Jaguar XK often received a bad rap as the old man’s sports car. From the surface, it was easy to dismiss the previous generations of the XK as simply a shorter XJ with a rather plain nose. To address this complaint, Jaguar has altered the size and shape of the proboscis, added some chrome grilles and a set of hood louvers to give the XK a more sinister look. The combination looks more visually interesting than the previous model, but still delivers a much more subtle first impression than the other two-doors in this price class. What sets the XK apart from the styling competition is the sleek side profile and perfectly executed rear. The style is not one that screams something wicked this way comes; that would be less than civilized, less than what consumers expect of Jaguar. Instead of aping the sometimes brash style of the Germans, the swooping lines, long hood, sashless windows and wide fender flares are executed with typical British restraint.

Inside the 2011 XKR the changes are largely limited to the removal of the J-gate shifter in favour of the hockey-puck style “JaguarDrive selector,” improved leather door trim and a revised steering wheel. The puck is unique and quirky looking, but actually ends up being no less frustrating than BMW and Merdedes’ latest “solution” to the “problem” of the classic gear selector. The steering wheel is another slight miss, while it feels great in your hands, the base XF gets the same tiller for half the price. Note to Jag: for 2012, swipe the wheel from the new XJ.

Current Jag owners I spoke with seem concerned that the latest Jag models are getting “too modern.” For those concerned about classic Jaguar styling; how “classic” your XK looks is largely depends on your interior color choice. There are no less than 11 interior leather color combinations up for grabs, and traditionalists would do well to note that the lighter the color the more “traditional” the interior tends to look. Seriously. Fear not Jaguar faithful, the XK can still be equipped with “acres of wood trim.” The option list includes three wood, one metal trim option and something called “piano black” which I would like to think is made from thousands of priceless tiny recycled pianos, but I’m probably wrong. Our press car was fitted with the black-on-black-on-black leather interior with metal trim and the same sluggish nav/infotainment system that garners complaints from reviewers and owners alike. I won’t beat a dead horse on this subject, but will say the new system in the flagship XJ sedan is certainly an improvement.

While we’re on the topic of complaints, not all is rosy inside the XKR. The first thing I found issue with is the rear seat arrangement, or should I say “stitched-leather luggage compartment.” No doubt countless hours were spent on the beautiful stitched leather and alcantara bits rear seat passengers would encounter, the problem is they just won’t fit back there. I’m a fairly averagely sized six-foot-tall person and with the front seat in a comfortable driving position you could have to be a legless-midget to fit back there. Room is so tight that the front seats are programed to prevent contact between seat-back and rear-seat, if you try to recline the fronts too far it starts scooting the bottom of the seat forward. My issue is not that the seats should be usable; I frankly don’t care if I have a 4-seater. The problem is that four seatbelts just restrict the XKR with a happy couple on board from using 3+ person HOV lanes. On the other hand, your briefcases and handbags will never feel as special in anything else.

Pop open the hood or romp on the go-pedal and you will immediately notice the biggest change to the XK: Jag’s new 5L V8. The 2009 XK’s two engine choices were a 300HP naturally-aspirated V8 or a supercharged 420HP V8, both displacing 4.2L. While the old Jag AJ-V8 is a nice engine, the supercharged version delivered an audible supercharger whine when pushed and with “only” 420HP on tap, the big cat always felt out of breath when running with the pack. Detractors may claim the new XK is still that old man’s car in a new-cat-suit with a big engine jammed in. To this I have to say: jam the new 5.0L engine into anything and it could be a winner. Even as lacklustre as the former X-Type was, if Jag had managed to stuff the 510HP V8 into the frame, it too would be a winner. When it comes to engines, it’s not all about power; it’s also about the noise. While the XKR doesn’t posses the XFR’s sublime bellow (I am guessing due to a different exhaust setup due to space constraints), it is never the less one of the most melodious V8 sounds I have ever heard. I’m not usually a fan of convertibles, but the engine note is reason enough for you to drop your top and choose the less-rigid XKR convertible.

Out on the road the new Jaguar Active Differential Control (unique to the R version of the XK) is immediately obvious. The XKR produces more than 125HP more than the base XK yet it applies the power with much greater finesse. While it is really not possible to call any rear-wheel-drive 500+ HP car drama free in the wet, the ADC takes most of the hair-raising drama out of the equation. The system is capable of not only locking the rear diff when it needs to, but it can also torque vector whenever the electronic nannies feel they should. Because the system can disengage itself at any time, it doesn’t feel unnatural the way some limited slip diffs can. The ADC’s activation is always seamless and fluid. Matching the ADC’s precision and feel is the re-tuned active suspension system which delivers a fairly compliant ride on the freeway and enough heft on the track to satisfy most GT buyers. Yep. GT buyers.

In truth the XK and XKR have always been “grand tourers” (Gran Turismos for those who prefer Italian) at heart, a type of car that aims more for gracious pace than maximum-attack. While BMW shoots for a GT-sized sports coupé with their M6, a V10 that screams all the way to its 8,250RPM red-line is not my idea of luxury. I mean F1 is fun and all, but for the city dweller seeking some coupé panache, something more subtle is called for… and that is what the XKR does best. With 461lb-ft of torque available from 2500-5500RPM Jaguar obviously had a choice to make: stuff some massive rubber out back and favour acceleration and handing over ride quality, or stick to Jaguar’s luxury-oriented roots. Jag chose the latter, and rightly so. The already low stock 4.6 second 0-60 time (TTAC verified) could be far lower if the rear end could find more grip. For the sake of comparison, the 2009 M6 runs to 60 in 4.4 seconds. Buyers will be pleased to know that somehow this kitty manages to be a fuel sipper delivering 15/22MPG neatly avoiding any gas guzzler tax. Ok, so fuel sipper is a relative term but Jaguar claims it is the first 500+HP V8 capable of skipping the gas guzzler tax in the USA. That has to count for something, right?

Speaking of the competition, let’s see how the XKR stacks up. BMW’s M6 is still the technology king despite having ended production last year, and the soon-to-be-released 2011 6-series is likely to raise the bar even higher. Still, the M6 is about gadgets and performance, the XKR marches to a slightly more posh drummer. The M6 may be faster, but is also carries a slightly higher price tag and is saddled with a $3,000 gas-guzzler tax due to the epically low 11/17MPG EPA numbers. While BMW’s 7-speed SMG is significantly smoother than the Mercedes Speedshift transmission, it’s still not as silky as the 6-speed ZF unit Jag selected. The M6 will probably always be the top choice for track days, but the XKR will make your vertebrae happier on your daily commute and your bank account fatter at every fill-up.

From the AMG corner we have the SL63 and CL63. The CL may have a real back-seat, but the looks of the CL have never been my cup of tea. At $150,000 for the CL63 and $139,050 for the SL63, it’s easy to just stop at pricing and call the XKR a bargain. The CL550 lacks the grunt of the Jag but does being 4MATIC AWD to bear, at $113,150 it still makes our tester XKR seem like a flat-out bargain at $101,000 as tested.

A wise man I once knew said it is impossible for a human to ever be truly objective. With that admission out of the way I have to say my week with the XKR left me smitten. Not because the XKR is the best car ever made, but because it fit me. While I can say as objectively as possible that the 2010 XKR is quite possibly one of the finest Jaguars ever made and with an available top speed limiter set to 174MPH, it might just be the fastest since the ill-fated Jaguar XJ220. While it may not have the athleticism of the BMW 6-Series, it actually does match the marketing hype on Jag’s website “elegance and beauty combined with power and grace.” Personally I would call it “automotive sex” but that’s probably why nobody hires me for marketing. If you have 100 large to spend on an aristocratic coupé, the XKR should be at or near the top of your list.

Jaguar provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Feedback for our Facebook fans: Ronald Balit: it is a well sorted chassis, but with 510 and RWD it’s easy to get yourself in a situation where it feels like the car is trying to kill you. But that’s half the fun, right? Peter Dushenski: I would have it over a Carrera S any day. Over an M6? Close call, but yes I would take the XKR over the current M6, the 2012 M6… maybe not. Darren Williams: it purrs when you start it and growls like a lion when you prod it. Careful, those claws are sharp. David Hoyt: judging by the looks in downtown Los Gatos, the 0-Woman time is very short indeed. Amir Kazi: one or two clubs perhaps. The trunk is fairly shallow.

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