UK drive of sharper, more extrovert tourer. Shame about the price.

What is it?

The fastest, and most powerful roadster Jaguar has ever produced - tested here for the first time on UK roads. Yet the funny thing about the Jaguar XKR-S is that it shouldn’t work. Not only is it a car that has its roots firmly in grand touring of the more gentile (if rapid) kind, but it has a soft top. And something that looks quite this hardcore rarely comes with a retractable roof.

Ultimately this is a soft-top version of the XKR-S Coupe that we first tested last year, getting the same 542bhp, 502lb ft from the supercharged 5.0-litre V8. As Jaguar is keen to point out, the all-aluminium XK was designed from the off as a cabriolet as well as a coupe and so it loses little of the tin-top’s rigidity.

As well as the power upgrade, the XKR-S gets uprated suspension (softer at the rear than the coupe), and a modified exhaust as well as better downforce produced by the styling tweaks.

What’s it like?

The misleading thing here is that the XKR-S is not the track-oriented mentalist that the aggressive body addenda hints at. In fact, it’s a much more rounded, and certainly still a road-biased thing.

In practice it does feel firm, but not in an uncomfortable way. In fact, if anything this is one of the rare instances where the convertible rides with a little more suppleness than the coupe equivalent. It manages an impressive blend of full-on, hairy-chested, slightly bonkers performance without too much compromise to the touring ability.

Even refinement is good, though if that’s your main concern you’re unlikely to be considering this model. In fact, the noise that the XKR-S makes is only ever going to be a selling point. It really is on another level to the standard XKR, and being able to drop the roof and get a little more exposure to the angry bark it emits only makes the convertible’s appeal even clearer.

Ultimately, driving the XKR-S is like meeting a psychopath in a well-cut suit. It’s so ludicrously overt in its intentions, yet at the same time it can be really quite civilised.

However, there are some problems, namely the £103,000 price tag, which puts the XKR-S at £18,450 over the standard XKR convertible and a number of other seriously good sports roadsters. And whilst we can only be impressed with the sharper turn-in, more aggressive noise and responses, and more dramatic experience, the non-S still promises such a blissfully well-sorted experience that it’s hard to justify.

Should I buy one?

Ultimately, if you won’t be happy unless you get the fastest, baddest XK out there, then this is it and you will be mighty pleased with it, because it’s brilliant. But for those happy to live with a little less posturing, the XKR makes for a better value buy with little compromise to the everyday experience. After all, it’s difficult to feel short-changed with ‘only’ 505bhp under your right foot.

Jaguar XKR-S Convertile

Price: £103,000; Top speed: 186mph; 0-62mph: 4.4sec; Economy: 23mpg; Co2: 292g/km; Kerb weight: 1795kg; Engine type: 5000cc, V8, supercharged; Power: 542bhp at 6000-6500rpm; Torque: 502lb ft at 2500-5500rpm; Gearbox: 6spd auto

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Aly1000 16 February 2012

Re: Jaguar XKR-S Convertible

1cfc1 wrote the following post at Wed, Feb 08 2012 3:24 PM: £103000 for a car from a company who can't get their mainstream models through a EuroNCAP crash test with 5 stars. No thanks! As for that spoiler, why bother! It looks like a Focus RS rear wing bodged on to fit the Jag. Some companies build strong safe cars & others build them tp pass the NCAP tests. Quite easy when you know how they will be tested. As for the rear spoiler. The little 'slots' ahead of the front bumper disturb the air going over the top of the car & increase the boot spoiler's effectiveness. So much so that at 300 kph the cars weight is doubled. Thats why they "bothered."

curious_insider 16 February 2012

Re: Jaguar XKR-S Convertible

for such a hefty premium over the standard R, there's not a huge amount of 'upgrade', really - styling, wheels, exhaust and engine tweak, plus minor handling tweaks. Hard to justify, and strange that there is no brakes upgrade to cope with increased performance?

Just not special or classy enough to justify the price tag IMO. This price puts it into competition with some very well established and capable offerings from others.

TegTypeR 11 February 2012

Re: Jaguar XKR-S Convertible

I was initially going to slate this car for being too expensive and too inelegant.

However, having just read the report of the new 911 drop top which come in at ten grand cheaper, I am going to suggest that this is actually a bargain and a far more charismatic car to boot.

I'm still not sold on the body kit as it is at odds with what I think the car should be but as a vehicle for drop top touring with a sense of occasion, this is probably one of the best on the market.