Stylish. Stunning. Fast. A masterpiece of automotive design. A predator cat on steroids. This is my assessment of the 2008 Jaguar XKR coupe after a week behind the wheel.
Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum gave life to the high performance XKR, its XK sibling model, and the new XF model. For a brief period he was the design chief for both Jaguar and Aston Martin and sees clear differences between the two iconic British sports cars.
“Jaguars are more voluptuous than Astons, more curvaceous, more extreme,” he says. “They shout a bit louder than Astons.” That may be the case, but my Jaguar XKR test coupe and the new Aston Martin coupe look like they share a similar bloodline.
“Jaguar has adhered to the rulebook of what a Jaguar is for too long,” Callum continues. “With the XK, we’ve moved it on a bit, but the next stage is to throw the rulebook away completely.”
The Jaguar XK coupe and convertible were introduced with 4.2-liter, 300-horsepower V8 engines. The XKR (R for Racing) coupe and convertible followed. These felines are supercharged, boosting the XKR’s “catpower” to 420 at 6,250 rpm and peak torque to 413 lb.-ft. at 4,000 rpm. This kitty can scoot from 0 to 60 in under 5 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited at 155 mph.
My jaunts around Hunt Country are exhilarating and quick. The keyless entry system provides easy access to the cabin and the red start button quickly brings the powerful engine to life.
The engine of my blue XKR coupe is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with three driving modes. In drive mode, the gearbox behaves as a conventional automatic. In sport mode, the transmission adapts to more aggressive driving. Manual mode, my favorite, is activated by using the steering-wheel-mounted paddles, delivering quick Formula 1-style shifting from the automatic transmission.
Safety was a paramount design factor in all Jaguar XK models. My coupe has front and side airbags for the driver and front passenger; an adaptive restraint system that deploys airbags according to occupant weight and safety belt use; dynamic stability control to aid braking by varying the stopping force at each wheel and reducing engine torque; anti-lock braking; and other safety features. In the convertible, large stabilizer bars instantly deploy in the event of a rollover to shield the occupants.
The XKR’s strong, lightweight, and stiff monocoque aluminum body provides a quiet, comfortable ride, precise steering, and responsive braking. The XKR is a 2+2 coupe because it has a back seat. In reality, the coupe comfortably seats two.
The user-friendly interior design includes soft-grain leather seats, aluminum veneer on the center console and dashboard, and a minimalist instrument panel.
The base price of the XKR coupe is $86,035. My tester has several options: 20-inch cast alloy wheels on all four corners; adjustable seat bolsters; heated steering wheel; power folding exterior mirrors; Alpine 525-watt surround sound system; satellite radio; and cruise control, bringing its sticker price to $98,525.
A special edition Jaguar XKR, the XKR Portfolio, is available at additional cost.
Jaguaristas will also see the new XF sedan model alongside the XK coupe at Jaguar dealerships. With the distinctive Jaguar “Growler” on the front grille, the XF replaces the aging S-Type model and advances Ian Callum’s bold design philosophy.
Three Jaguar XF models are available: the Luxury XF ($49,975 base price); the Premium Luxury XF ($55,975 base price); and the supercharged XF ($62,975 base price).
Jaguar provides a comprehensive 4-year/50,000 mile new vehicle warranty as well as a 6-year unlimited mileage corrosion protection warranty.
Visit Jaguarusa.com for information about the XKR and all Jaguar models.
“We talk at Jaguar of how our new generation of models are ‘beautiful, fast cars.” It’s a phrase that ideally sums up our brand and can be applied to every car we design,” Ian Callum says.
You delivered on your promise, Mr. Callum.