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Road Test: 2011 Jaguar XKR-S
The Jaguar XKR-S has been developed with one single aim in mind; to build the fastest mass-produced sports car the Jaguar lineup has ever seen. Based on the Ian Callum-designed Jaguar XK-Series, the Brits succeeded in developing a car that conforms to the mission statement. They reached the aim by upping the performance, improving and lowering the suspension, tweaking the engine management, adding new body panels and a rear wing to improve the aerodynamic characteristics of the cat from Britain.
The Jaguar XKR-S has been created in honor of the 50th anniversary of the iconic Jaguar E-Type, which made its debut at the Geneva Auto Salon back in 1961. You could say that Jaguar tried to combine the elegance of its E-Type with the brutality of their last supercar the XJ220. Its front-engined, rear-wheel drive setup – like the E-Type – is mixed with the racing flavor from the XJ220 offering a boosted engine performance of 550hp, only 1hp more than the XJ220, making it the most powerful road going Jaguar ever produced by the British manufacturer.
The XKR-S is powered by a supercharged 5.0 liter V8 with a maximum torque of 680Nm. It allows the XKR-S to accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in 4.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 300km/h. Compared to the electronically limited 250km/h in the ‘standard’ XKR and 280km/h in the XKR Speed Edition the XK-series entered the 300km/h club with the XKR-S. All the power is routed to the rear wheels through Jaguar’s six-speed automatic transmission with its sequential shift steering-wheel paddles providing the driver with the controls at his or her finger tips; right upshifts, and left downshifts. A XKR-S with a stick shift is not available.
With the review of the XKR Black and Speed Edition in the back of our mind we were destined to find differences and improvements inside the package of the XKR-S. On the outside, it is not hard to find them, because the additional “in-your-face” body panels are easily noticeable to any passer, especially in the French Racing blue color we drove. Design wise it has a variety of scoops, intakes, splitters, diffusers and an impressive trunk-mounted wing to boot. Some of them are made from carbon fiber. The 20 inch Vulcan alloy wheels shod come fitted with wide Pirelli P-Zero performance tires as standard.
The main differences are to be found in the ride, handling and engine performance. The 5.0 liter V8 supercharged delivers its power with ease and thanks to the supercharger you get an instant reaction to any throttle input. Easy control of the throttle is required due to the car’s sheer brutality and power delivery. It is either smoking rear tires or providing a distinct and strong push forward, which pulls the ground towards you at a frightening rate while being immersed in a glorious sound track.
The additional oomph from the engine was generated by remapping the software. Jaguar adjusted the amount of fuel injected into the engine and increased the quantity of exhaust gas flowing through the car’s valve controlled exhaust system. A new Roots-type twin-vortex supercharger provides additional performance over the system used in the standard XKR. The characteristic of the power train remains quite similar to its ‘slower’ family members. The gearbox is controlled using the steering wheel-mounted paddles or in full automatic with S mode via the JaguarDrive Selector. The seamless shifts provide an excellent ride with an additional bit of sportiveness over the XKR.
The most noticeable difference is the ride inside the XKR-S. The suspension has been lowered 0.4 inches confirming its racing heritage. Where the XKR is smooth and slightly sporty, the XKR-S is firm but not harsh. It is never unbearably rough, but the difference between the two is obvious. The steering also received a tighter setting in the R-S. It feels sharper and more alert. In tight corners the Jag stays planted on the road and provides excellent body control.
For highway driving enthusiasts the XKR would be the immediate choice, petrol heads who would take their XK sports car to the track will find themselves at home in the XKR-S. The newly improved Trac DSC system has altered the XKR-S’s level of intervention, allowing drivers to get closer to the edge of the performance envelope before reigning them back in.
On the inside, the package seems similar to the XKR, but that is not completely true. The basic setup of the R-S’s cabin is similar to the R, but Jaguar changed the standard leather seats for sport seats with 16-points of adjustments, installed a newly improved steering wheel and fitted some XKR-S badges on the dashboard and in the door sills. The leather-wrapped steering wheel and the seats are now also heated. The ventilated feature as seen in the XKR has been deleted.
Beyond that, the interior remains the same, which means lots of space and a large-ish central console with JaguarDrive Selector dial that rises up at startup, a seven-inch touch screen monitor providing access to all the multimedia features and a 525-watt Bowers and Wilkins sound system.
In the end, we are left with a conclusion; What did Jaguar offer us in this Jaguar XKR-S? We loved the XKR Black and Speed Edition because of its versatility, it had the capability of combining smoothness and sportiveness as part of one package. As a comparison to these remarks, we feel that the XKR-S has taken the sportiveness to a higher, more profound level without altering the levels of gran tourer brilliance.
Jaguar provided us with a sports car which is more agile around twisty roads and race circuits then any of its family members available to date. Combined with a slightly firmer ride and improved performance, the XKR-S is capable of offering a level of comfort usually reserved for high-end luxury limousines together with the thrilling experience of track-focused sports car.