Jaguar did much to shine up its tarnished reputation with the introduction of the current-generation XK coupe in 2006. Just retro enough to be instantly recognizable but modern enough to compete with the upstarts in the hotly contested sports-luxury market, the new XK was widely regarded as a hit.
Things got better with the XKR, which adds a hot supercharged engine to the mix. More power doesn’t hurt the XKR’s oh-so-British composure one bit.
For 2012, Jaguar upped the ante yet again, pulling the wraps off of the somewhat less civilized XKR-S. Where the XKR is something of a mailed fist in a velvet glove, the XKR-S is a straight-up street brawler of a car, with even more horsepower and a suspension built for extremely high-speed touring.
It’s a lot less subtle than the performance we’ve come to expect from Jaguar, but who’s complaining?
There’s no mistaking that there’s something special about the XKR-S. The svelte lines of the XK have been hacked, flared, and scooped out, with a unique front fascia that includes carbon fiber detailing, extravagant hood vents, and aerodynamic sculpting around the front wheels and along the flanks.
The XKR-S also benefits from 2012′s round of design updates, incorporating LED accent lights in the headlamp units and a larger grille. The look is aggressive and purposeful, bringing to mind the look of Jaguar’s classic racers.
There’s no mistaking that there’s something special about the XKR-S.
The interior is a far cry from the stripped-out racing interior suggested by the body modifications. Soft-touch surfaces and acres of elegantly stitched leather combine with unique racing-style seats, an Italian leather headliner, and a choice of three grades of unique interior trim that set Jaguar’s performance flagship apart from the XKR.
The cool disc-shaped “JaguarDrive” gear selector and pulsing red START button are shared with the XK, and a 7-inch touch screen controls the navigation system, sound system and backup camera.
The XKR-S is the new performance king of the XK lineup, and given the sublime nature of most of the cars with the chrome cats on the hood, it’s easy to forget that Jaguar’s performance claims are no joke. The XKR-S backs up its promise of stunning performance with a massively upgraded powerplant.
The XKR’s supercharged 5.0 V8 has been massaged to squeeze out even more power. The all-aluminum engine features independent variable cam timing and direct-injection fuel delivery. The exhaust gets a bit of extra growl as well.
The XKR-S rips off the line with a sharp, feline 550-horse snarl, and it bangs up to eye-watering speeds with glee. This car encourages you to get on it, floorboard the pedal, and stay on it until the speed starts to make you nervous. (But please, take it to a race track to attempt this).
Length: 188.7 in.
Width: 74.5 in.
Height: 51.6 in.
Wheelbase: 108.3 in.
Curb weight: 3968 lb.
Cargo space: 11.7 cu.ft.
Base price: $132,000
Engine: 5.0 liter DOHC supercharged V8
Drivetrain: 6-speed automatic, RWD
Horsepower: 550 @ 6000-6500
Torque: 502 @ 2500-5500
Fuel capacity: 16.1 gal.
Est. mileage (city/hwy): 15/22
The six-speed paddle-shifted automatic transmission has been upgraded to handle the additional power, and an active multi-clutch limited-slip differential helps get the power to the road.
The XKR-S’ 4.2-second 0-60 run gives it the honor of being the fastest road-going Jaguar ever.
Lightweight aluminum construction keeps the weight down while providing a structure stiff enough for the track. To keep the XKR-S on the road, Jaguar tweaked the front suspension. The double-wishbone design is strengthened with stiffer, machined steering knuckles to improve high-speed feedback. Steering sensitivity is reduced at high speeds to make the XKR-S less twitchy.
The rear suspension is likewise upgraded with stiffer springs and a measure of rear-wheel steering dialed in, and the Adaptive Damping system was also revised for higher-speed performance.
Jaguar scaled back the four-mode stability control’s intervention level to allow enthusiast drivers more leeway to enjoy the enhanced performance. At speed the XKR-S is confident and composed, with less frenetic behavior than many race-bred sports cars.
“Relax,” it seems to say at triple-digit speeds. “I’ve got this.”
This car’s an A-ticket to go and run with the Ferraris, but with a completely different attitude. The XKR-S is sharp-edged and powerful, but still retains a strong air of the genteel atmosphere that makes Jaguars unique.
Mix in a significant dose of the marque’s racing history, and you’ve got this car in a nutshell. A convertible version is on the way, as well. Move fast, because Jaguar only plans to make 100 coupes and 100 convertibles for 2013. XKR-S pricing starts at $132,000.
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