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Samantha Stevens | Jun, 08 2011 | 1 Comment


What’s Hot: Superman in a suit - a supercar that doubles as a livable daily.
What’s Not: A supercar price tag.
X-Factor: Rarity: you’d be hard pressed to find another in Oz.

Vehicle Style: 2+2 Luxury Coupe
Price: $340,000 plus on-roads

Fuel Economy (claimed): 12.3 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 17.7 l/100km



Jaguar's resurrection as a premium sporting marque began in 2006 with the XK coupe. Two years later, its supercharged XKR offered a sniff of future supercardom.

Now, the 2011 XKR-S hits the mark with 405kW and 680Nm and a stunning body that screams Bond-car status.

While an on-track animal, it has the rare ability to double-up as a mild-mannered drive - one you could send your granny off to the shops in (provided she looks after those 20-inch rims).



Quality: A mix of softgrain and 3D carbon-woven leather, split by contrasting piping and stitching that reflect the exterior palette, offers supreme comfort with a lavish sporty bent.

There’s more leather on the roof than a Hereford bull, and the rear buckets are not over-looked, perfectly mirroring the front (but mighty tight back there).

Lower door pockets lined in hard plastic, and a chrome-rimmed centre console that reflects sunlight into the driver's eyes, are the only detractions.

Comfort: Every conceivable adjustment option is offered on the stunning bucket seats - 16 in total - from extendable underthigh support, to user-adjustable side bolsters that hug the hips like a short belt on a fat man.

The rear seats are perfunctory at best: kids and midgets would still sit cross-legged behind the average six-foot male driver. A handbag stash only.

Equipment: For starters, there’s no shifter; a spherical shift knob rises out of the centre console on start-up (similarly, the air vents control in the doors). This heightens the impression of a futuristic and fluid cabin, but are really just gimmicks.

The centre hub contains all the necessary performance switches. It's topped by a multifunction touch-screen in the dash for the sat-nav, A/C controls, Bluetooth, reverse camera with parking guidance, and a 525 watt Bowers and Wilkins surround stereo with inbuilt hard drive and auxiliary interface.

Storage: The gain from the compromises of the coupe shoulder and non-existent rear seats is a surprisingly large, flat luggage area, tucked away under the long-sloping rear windshield.

It had no trouble swallowing the two big suitcases and hand luggage we were lugging around with us on the overseas launch.



Driveability: The fact that this car can be so slick one minute then so absolutely hairy the next is what makes it so special.

With 405kW, it's the most powerful car Jag has ever offered; and the supercharger bolted to its 5.0 litre V8 pours on all 680Nm from 2500rpm.

This leaves absolutely no hesitation when the foot is pressed flat to the firewall. You can clock a 4.4 second 0-100km time with ease. If you're really throwing caution to the wind, its top speed of 300km/h is electronically limited.

Yet, despite all that power and twist, the XKR-S is so malleable that, even in Sport mode, pulling away from a kerb or kicking down a gear won't rip your head off.

The adaptive ZF auto is still six-speeds where others are heading towards double digits, and second and third gear feel a touch long on the track, but the changes are seamless.

In manual mode, commands are super-quick and complete with a throttle blip and redline-hold via wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Steering is precise, a typical rear-drive sports car trait, and huge 225 front/265 rear 20-inch Pirellis do their best to defy physics.

When the latter threatens to overwhelm, a well-calibrated DSC stability control allows enough freedom for some rear action before hauling things back into line.

Enable TracDSC, and only the slightest hint of electronic manhandling can be felt through the electronic diff and ABS sensors. It steps up Sport mode’s suspension mapping, shift patterns and steering/throttle response like a cattle prod on a bull.

Refinement: One could be forgiven for comparing the cabin with a surround-sound theatre. Not just in theatricals, but the car’s innate ability to filter out on-road distractions and give you just the good stuff.

For example, the induction and exhaust feed through the firewall and underfloor with precise clarity (and great volume) when hard at work, yet road noise is hardly heard.

Tyre noise only creeps in as the contact patch is forced into the road surface under heavy braking. Simply exceptional.

Suspension: The active damper suspension is a triumph, switching from Drive to Sport to Trac instantly via a more traditional hydraulic fluid setup (not magnetic).

The XKR-S is 10mm lower all round than the XKR, with uprated springs and helped by a naked carbon aero package that claims a 26 percent reduction in lift.

It clings limpet-like to the track though switchbacks and over sawtooth kerbs, highlighting the highly nimble chassis underneath.

The use of light high-tech alloys though the whole car – including machined aluminium front uprights and forged rims for reduced unsprung weight - allows the suspension to work at its best (and, at 1753kg, certainly with less compromise than the typical two-tonne GT).

Combined with the electronically-controlled diff and roll bars, the car is incredibly stable at speed.

Yet on the road, it is possibly one of the best sports cars this writer has ever experienced: control and rebound is near perfect, gliding over road imperfections and offering communication without jarring or judder.

Braking: The brakes themselves look massive, yet are only twin-piston up front and single piston on the rear (contemporaries such as the BMW M3 only use singles).

These sliding pistons are wide and powerful, matched to large discs and ceramic compound pads.

It’s a highly effective package, dulled somewhat by an over-servoed and sodden brake pedal that lacks true feel.



ANCAP rating: Not tested.

Safety features: Dual front and front side airbags, pre-tensioning seatbelts front and rear, IsoFix child seat points in rear, active front headrests, ABS, brake assist, traction control and two-step DSC stability control, and pedestrian safety deployable airbagged bonnet.



Warranty: TBC (XKR is 3yr/100,000km)

Service costs: Servicing costs vary according to vehicle usage.



Jaguar XKR ($239,000) – Is the XKR-S six digits better than its supercharged sibling? It depends on how you consider value - and how much time you would spend at a track

The vast majority of buyers, even in this segment, would never fully appreciate the difference between the two cars, nor take the S version anywhere near its performance capabilities. Particularly in Australia’s nanny states. (see Jaguar reviews)

Maserati GranTurismo S ($345,900)– Probably the biggest threat to the Jag with its MC Shift gearbox nicked straight out of the Ferrari 599 and is matched to an incredible exhaust note, stunning design and sumptuous interior.

But Maserati is still Ferrari’s kid brother, while the XKR-S is the flagship Jag.

Aston Martin DBS ($485,520) – Aston Martin is a special marque; the DBS a very special car.

But in this case, its fellow-Brit stacks up to it in rarity and performance, yet has four less cylinders, produces 25kW and 110Nm (!) more at a lower peak, and costs $140K less. (see Aston Martin reviews)

Note: all prices are Manufacturer's List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.



Grand Tourers are supposedly two cars in one; track-attack weapon and country cruiser – but many lean more one way than the other. The XKR-S is an even 50:50, and very accomplished at both.

The XK dragged (hurled!) the old-school, old-hat Jaguar marque back into serious contention five years ago, and the XKR-S rounds out the brand as an accomplished contender for high-end GT dollars.

It's just a shame that you need 340,000 of them.

International Launch: Algarve, Portugal in June 2011
Local launch date: October 2011



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