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Jaguar XKR (2011MY) Review & Road Test Part 2

Fri, 12 Nov 2010

The interior of the Jaguar XKR


So the Jaguar XKR with Black Pack and Speed Pack gets to look a lot more aggressive and goes faster.

But actually, it only goes faster because the limiter has been changed. All the other numbers are exactly the same, so all you’re getting is the bragging rights that your XKR can do 174mph instead of 155mph. Which is a bit pointless.

We’d sort of understand upping the limiter if Jaguar had shoved it up to 186mph – which we know the XKR to be more than capable of – because that would have given proper bragging rights as a 300 kph car. Which is a big deal for drivers in Europe and would have upset the Germans. Always a bonus.

But gripes about the pointless top speed aside, the XKR with the Speed Pack is properly sorted and properly fun. It feels like a modern GT – and a very powerful modern GT at that – not a soft GT from the Jag of old cobbled together from left over memories and past glories. This XKR would show the V8 Vantage a thing or two and make you question how sensible it is to spend 50% more on a DB9, when the XKR is almost as pretty and every bit as quick.

In fact, the XKR feels quicker than the DB9, even though on paper they are almost neck and neck. Perhaps that’s down to the way the XKR makes progress. It has terrific grip, but it conspires to slither across the tarmac instead of feeling completely glued. Which can be a bit disconcerting until you’re in the groove, but it makes the XKR feel brilliant.

So brilliant you’ll spend half the drive nailing the throttle at every opportunity just to feel that kick and slither, and the rest of the time floating along in peace and quiet – just because you can. You’ll also quickly learn that when you want to set the XKR on fire on impossible to resist country roads a quick prod on the Dynamic button and a twist of the rotary knob in to Sport are the prerequisite for unalloyed driving joy.

In Dynamic mode the throttle feels as if it’s reading your inputs almost before you make them, and the way the ZF ‘box picks the right cogs with nothing more than the input from your right foot is uncanny. So good is the ‘box it makes redundant the flappy paddles and allows you to concentrate entirely on harnessing those 500 horses for your own selfish joy.

So that’s sorted then. The Jaguar XKR is perfect? Well, no, it’s not. It’s starting to feel its age just a bit and the ergonomics leave something to be desired. The back seats are pointless – no doubt a sop to showroom needs – and the design isn’t ageing as well as the DB9.

But they’re minor niggles. The XKR  - especially with the Speed Pack and Black Pack (but NOT with the Graphics) – is a very desirable GT. It has the sort of performance and abilities you could easily pay twice as much for, and as Jaguar once again becomes a desirable marque with proper bragging rights it can be seen as a real bargain. Even with the Speed Pack and Black Pack, the XKR is half the price of the DBS.

Which really does make it a Supercar bargain.

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By Cars UK