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Reviewed: Jaguar XKR-S

Driven June 2012

Reviewed: Jaguar XKR-S

This is the XKR-S, the sportier version of the 500bhp XKR, which in turn is the sportier version of the Jaguar XK grand tourer. This puts the XKR-S in the same league as the insanely powerful and track-worthy Porsche GT3 RS, which incidentally, will be on sale in India soon.

If you’ve been following TopGear, this production XKR-S was unveiled at last year’s Geneva show. And what Jaguar has done here is put the XKR through a series of aerodynamic changes to make it easier to slice through the air, and coupled that with a more powerful third-gen 5.0-litre V8 engine that makes this Jag the fastest ever to come out of Coventry.

It’s not difficult to differentiate this most extreme version of the Jag GT. Note the array of intakes, deflectors and nacelles that adorn all of the front and sides, elements very typical of a track car. Jaguar engineers have managed to reduce the car’s drag coefficient with these ‘design changes’, which is a result of trying to make the car capable of going quicker. Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that Jag has used the XKR-S nomenclature. There was a limited edition XKR in 2008, which also thrived on aerodynamic changes.

But the difference this time is that this Jaguar is now a full-fledged model, with power up by 39bhp and peak torque climbing up another 55Newton-metre compared to the XKR. This has made the car faster by 0.4sec in its dash to 100kph and in de-limited mode it can touch the magic 300kph mark.

The XKR-S is a supercar all right, but possibly one of the most understated ones around. Start the car and there’s no bloodcurdling screaming, as heard in Lambos and Ferraris. The S gets its own twin-exhaust with a unique grunt that belies the fact that there’s a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 lurking under the lightweight aluminium body.
There is reasonable use of that metal – for example in the suspension – and carbon fibre inserts on the bodywork to keep weight in check. It still hovers around 1.8 tonnes though, because Jaguar hasn’t simply thrown out stuff from the base car in a bid to lose weight – almost all the features stay, including the high-end music system, climate control and plush seating to make this an everyday supercar.

The XKR-S sits 10mm lower than the saner version, but mind you, this car isn’t tiny – it’s 4794mm long. To put that in perspective – the XKR-S is longer and wider than a Toyota Fortuner. Of course, that doesn’t correspond to more space inside. There are four seats but the rear ones are more to plonk your gym bag on than for any proper luggage or even toddlers. Which is a good thing because the last thing you want inside a car this agile is things that can get thrown around.

Despite its size, the XKR-S is an agile piece of machinery. Steering isn’t very heavy but is direct and constantly in touch with the driver’s senses. The beauty is that you can drive the car like a gentleman or manhandle it like a goon – either way, the XKR-S will maintain its composure while making short work of the roundabouts and corners. To top that, ride isn’t brutal, which means you can travel over most Indian roads without ending up grinding your teeth and bones at the end of a long journey, which is important for a grand tourer.

The Jaguar XKR-S is more of a ballet dancer than a monster, which for a supercar isn’t one of the best compliments. But like the animal it gets its name from, this car believes in stealth. Don’t be fooled by its composure. It can bite. And bite hard.



Girish Karkera

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