BMW teams up with Italian styling gurus at Pininfarina for slick new coupe
Jaguar XKR review (2009 onwards model)
- What – Jaguar XKR
- Where – Seville, Spain
- Date – February 2009
- Price – £72,400
- Available – March 2009
- Key rivals – BMW M6, Mercedes CLK63 AMG, Maserati GranTurismo, Porsche 911 Carrera 2 S PDK, Aston Martin Vantage Sportshift
The Jaguar XKR has always had the looks and the handling but with the new 510hp supercharged V8 it's now got the firepower to go with it.
- We like – Huge power, brilliantly balanced chassis, V8 soundtrack, fast-acting gearbox, bang per buck, glamorous looks
- We don’t like – Interior finish, useless rear seats, low-speed ride, fuel consumption
BMW M, Mercedes AMG, Porsche, Aston Martin, Maserati - bow down because Jaguar's new 510hp XKR is set to blow you all out of the water. Always fast and elegant, Jag's sleek coupe has gained a new killer punch courtesy of updates including the XFR's all new direct-injection, supercharged V8.
The revisions to XK and XF are based around Jaguar's all-new V8 petrol and - currently in the XF only - V6 diesel. The usual cosmetic enhancements of revised headlights and LED tail lamp clusters also feature, the XK also gaining the XF's trademark JaguarDrive Selector rotary gearknob and start-up 'handshake'.
The influence of last year's limited edition XKR-S carries through into this facelifted model, the new XKR boasting chrome mesh in its gaping front-valance intakes and - as before - additional vents in the top of the bonnet. The XKR-S's 10% faster steering rack is also carried over but the new model packs a considerably bigger punch.
The XKR also gets Jaguar's latest Adaptive Dynamics adjustable damping, a far more sophisticated and constantly self-adjusting step up from the previous two-mode CATS system. Paired with the XFR's clever Active Differential Control, the XKR combines monumental power with a finely honed chassis of real class and quality. Sounds promising...
You need some fairly heavyweight technology and chassis tuning to make 510hp a viable proposition in an everyday road car and it's testament to Jaguar's skill that the XKR's performance isn't just explosive, it's also just fantastically accessible. That it makes such a tremendous noise doing it is just a bonus.
The previous car's distinctive supercharger whine has gone, in its place a more linear, consistent power delivery that is never anything other than thrillingly strong. Throttle response is razor sharp and can - along with the dampers - be made sharper still with a press of the Dynamic Mode button, handily signified with a dinky chequered flag.
Do this in conjunction with the automatic gearbox's Sport mode and the XKR moves some way beyond its luxury GT pigeonhole and into serious sports car territory. Indeed, in raw performance terms the Jag is treading on the toes of the much more expensive Aston Martin Vantage, the car it most closely resembles in both style and spirit.
The XKR's 4.8-second 0-62mph sprint stuns, even if many rivals are a tenth or two quicker off the line. But it's in the more relevant mid range where the Jag really ignites, effortless supercharged punch perfectly in tune with a gearbox so fast and slick you wonder why rivals bother with clunky automated manuals or complex dual-clutch systems.
Ride and handling
Considering its clever aluminium construction the Jag's 1,753kg kerb weight is a little disappointing and only on a par with rivals, 1530kg 911 Carrera 2 S PDK notwithstanding. But the Jag flatters to deceive, feeling lighter on its feet than the numbers suggest and much livelier than the XFR with which it shares its drivetrain.
The new Active Differential Control helps here and unlike a traditional mechanical limited-slip differential can influence the car's poise even on a trailing throttle. Turn into a bend with more speed than you thought - a common occurrence in this car - and you can feel the inside rear wheel pulling the nose tight.
Once past the apex you can balance this with the throttle if you desire, instant response from the pedal and the diff's lightning reactions delivering a delicious rearward bias. This is a wickedly fast car and massively confidence inspiring at speed, the ADC balancing the chassis and reducing electronic intervention to a minimum.
With spring rates hiked by nearly a third over the previous XKR the ride on the big 20-inch wheels can display some very un-Jag like choppiness, even without selecting Dynamic Mode. But it makes sense when you start really pressing on, the XKR moving decisively to the sportier end of the spectrum and much more raw than the XFR.
For such an apparently big car it's a serious disappointment the XK's rear seats are next to useless. Mercedes' cheaper and equivalently rapid CLK63 AMG manages to accommodate four in relative comfort and even the 911 can claim true 2+2 status but the Jag is strictly a two-seater and a wasted opportunity.
Having said that for the driver and front-seat passenger it's an appealing picture. Low and snug, the cockpit feels every inch the sporting coupe, interior revisions putting a further XF-inspired modern twist on the traditional Jaguar ambience. It's just a shame the silver-painted plastics look little better than what you'd get in a Ford Mondeo.
Economy and safety
We should probably brush over fuel economy. After all, if you're in the market for a 500hp-plus coupe it's doubtful this is a serious concern. An optimistic official 23mpg and 292g/km are the numbers you'll be wanting to avoid looking at, only the 27.7mpg and 250g/km PDK 911 offering any pretence of eco friendliness in these circles.
Moving swiftly on, front, side and thorax airbags - all controlled by Jaguar's Adaptive Restraint Technology System - are all standard, together with anti-whiplash headrests and a pedestrian-protecting pop-up bonnet system. Helping you avoid trouble in the first place the active differential does a superb job of controlling slip even when the road is greasy and treacherous.
The MSN Cars verdict 5/5
There's something very appealing about the XKR's blend of class and raffish charm. The cold and clinical 911 is still the purist driver's choice but the Jag is bursting with character and devilishly fast into the bargain. Astons and Maseratis might have more status but the XKR's charisma and raw pace are impossible to ignore.
5-litre V8, supercharged
Torque lb ft
0-62 mph secs
Top speed mph
CO2 g/km / Tax %
292 g/km / 35%
Rating (specific model)
Jaguar XKR 5.0 V8 Supercharged
Ride and handling
MSN Cars verdict
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