From £29,375
Faster and better controlled than the regular XKR, but did it need to be?

Our Verdict

The Jag XK is equally capable of crossing continents or shredding its tyres on track

A smooth, svelte all-rounder which can equally cosset and thrill

What is it?

Would Jaguar have built a car like this before today? Sure, it has used the XKR-S nameplate before (in 2008) but I think it has taken a newfound confidence for Jag to serve up something as overt as this.

Something with a £97,000 price, as much power as the XJ220 (542bhp if you’re asking) and a colour scheme reminiscent of a GT Porsche.

So what exactly is the XKR-S? Well, firstly, it is a series production model rather than a limited-run special. The 39bhp increase over the standard XKR comes from ECU changes and a new exhaust (more of which later); there are no mechanical changes to the internals of the engine. Torque is increased by 41lb ft.

Jaguar claims the more assertive styling (which encompasses changes made across the XK range) is dictated as much by function as form. The front and rear aerodynamic enhancements are apparently required to maintain contact with the ground at the XKR-S’s higher top speed: an electronically governed 186mph.

Changes to the chassis mirror those previewed on the limited-run Edition 75 and amount to 28 per cent stiffer spring rates over the standard XKR's, a new aluminium steering knuckle, reprogrammed damper and differential controls, wider tyres and lighter wheels.

What's it like?

Of the mechanical alterations, what you notice first is the new active exhaust. Compared with the standard XKR, the S is not only louder but also crisper; almost purer and less synthetic. Not everyone will love it – especially anyone who happens to live within three miles of your favourite roads.

To reinforce that, we made a few new Portugese ‘friends’ while filming the video to go with this story. But you can’t argue with the fact that the new soundtrack certainly matches the way the XKR-S looks.

And the way it goes. The standard XKR is hardly lacking propulsion, but the S is noticeably quicker again and freer revving at the top end. Partly this is because, subjectively, the S feels like it has a more aggressive throttle map – despite Jaguar's claims to have softened it (across all XKs) for the 2012 model year. Either way, this is a car where you find yourself backing out of the throttle halfway down a straight in an effort to keep speeds broadly moral.

The dynamic changes bring an improved steering response (more weight and less hesitation), making it easier and more satisfying to commit to a corner. Overall, the step-up over the standard R is probably in the region of 20 per cent.

In the spirit of completeness, we should report that we tried two XKR-S Jags and, in this regard, one felt noticeably better. However, in neither did the increased spring rates result in an uncomfortably harsh ride.

Should I buy one?

Amusing though the XKR-S is, there’s a nagging feeling that it is perhaps trying to be something it is not. For the drama and sheer performance, the XKR-S justifies its near-six-figure price but, in the final reckoning, it remains a large, relatively heavy GT. And as GT cars go, it’s difficult to argue against the XKR, especially at a saving of £20k. Some even say the sweet spot in the XK range is the standard 5.0-litre model.

The truth, I suspect, is that the XKR-S is about attracting a new type of buyer to Jaguar – one who is more extrovert and for whom 379bhp, or even 503bhp, is simply not enough.

Jamie Corstorphine


Jaguar XKR-S

Price: £97,000; Top speed: 186mph (limited); 0-62mph: 4.4sec; Economy: 23.0mpg (combined); CO2: 292g/km; Kerb weight: 1753kg; Engine: V8, 5000cc, supercharged; Power: 542bhp at 6500rpm; Torque: 502bhp at 3500rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd automatic

Join the debate


1 June 2011

Maybe Jag is rationalising that Prosche's been doing multiple 911 variants and making money out of them, so why not do the same with the XK.

1 June 2011

This might sound a little unfair, but the XKR-S looks, if not exactly like Granny in a miniskirt, maybe the automative equivalent of Grandpa in cutting edge trainers. The standard model looks stylish, luxurious and dignified - ideally suited to the mature person who wants a comfortable, slightly sporty coupe to waft around in. Not the sort of motor for young blokes, who will look like they're driving around in Dad's car. If you wanted a hard edged, serious sports car, Porsche, Lotus, and countless other makers of smaller, lighter cars would make a more suitable starting point than this heavyweight "gentleman's" coupe. Even the colour of the test car looks faintly ridiculous - brilliant, hot hatch blue? I don't think so.

1 June 2011

Sorry as much as I love Jaguar, this is wrong, if it needs that tacky front spliter and tacky rear spoiler to make it work up to 186mph, it shows in reality what a poor design the original must have been, you would never see AMG of BMW M shopping in Halfords, so why are Jaguar, a nice active rear spoiler would have been so much better and more in keeping with the price tag - lots of pace but no grace.

1 June 2011

Citytiger, surely the spoiler is no worse than what Porshe offer on some of their 911s? But I agree this is an odd offering by Jag. It'll be interesting to see how well it sells- I doubt I'll ever see one!

1 June 2011

The kid in me quite likes it because it does look so different to the standard car, however I get the feeling if I were to drive one of these then I would be somewhat disappointed that the visuals write a cheque the chassis and set up can't deliver.

That said I still can't get kitted Hyundai Coupe out of my head.



It's all about the twisties........

1 June 2011

[quote Overdrive]Maybe Jag is rationalising that Prosche's been doing multiple 911 variants and making money out of them, so why not do the same with the XK.[/quote] Or like the last Boxster special edition waiting for the gullible rich to spend money on something more expensive with very little real world benefit. As James says in his article the standard version is probably the best. I like the idea of a bright colour, but the nose looks dreadful and the tail end looks great.

1 June 2011

I suppose that near £100k asking price for an XKR is a bit steep, the body kit is a touch too Halfords and then there is not that much of a power increase, still if they find the buyers then job done.

1 June 2011

[quote Autocar]Torque: 502bhp at 3500rpm;[/quote] Need to edit this, JC.

1 June 2011

Got to agree with this article. I've just returned in XKR from a 2.7k mile round trip - London, Normandy, South of France, Barcelona, Mallorca, Barcelona (Sunday morning!), Andorra, Normandy,London - and simply can't believe that anyone could need more performance of today's roads. We did Cherbourg to St Jean Cap Ferrat in one go - 870 miles at 84 mph and 22.9 mpg in 11 hours. Addictive acceleration away from poll booths - noise like a high revving Nascar racer and the ground moving underneath. From 40-130 this is one of the fastest cars I've ever driven on the road. Add to that loads of space for luggage, quiet at the cruise - no more exhaust noise for me thanks - fantastic build quality inside and out. I haven't driven an Aston recently but can't really see how they can ask around 2.5 times as much as I paid for my pre-registered 350 on the clock for a DB9. I would never have thought of buying a Jaguar any time since my wife had a big XJ8 20 odd years ago and bought this XKR on impulse. After trading in my umpteenth Porsche it has been a genuine revelation. One of today's great bargains and the idea of it being short of power has never crossed my mind!

1 June 2011

I love where Jaguar's going here. It seems like only five minutes ago we had nothing but soft 50's and 60's influences all over the place and no thrusting young exec would have been seen dead in a Jag. That's changing fast and this shows that 'new-Jag' is a different beast altogether. I much prefer painting out the bit that the front number plate is on though, see the link – – when oh when will autocar upgrade this forum to work better on Mac's and allow you to post images?


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