Few long-term test cars have proved more popular with those of us here at Autocar Towers than our Jaguar XKR.

There’s a good chance you’ll remember ‘BF56 LTE’ whether you’re a regular reader or not, because this was the bright red car that appeared on Top Gear TV.

Jaguar lent it to us for a year once TG had finished with it. And over the course of that year, the car covered more than 20,000 miles.

Looking back, I can’t remember a single serious complaint from anyone who drove it. The car was as fast as you’d ever want, wickedly sonorous, gloriously attractive to behold, it wasn’t ruinously thirsty and, best of all, it was comfortable. Comfortable to sit in; comfortable to ride in; quiet and absorbent over broken surfaces. It was the sort of car you’d happily drive 150 miles down the motorway just to get to that unforgettable B-road. And fast cars like it are surprisingly rare.

I was driven in that car’s replacement last week, and can tell you that the new 2009, 503bhp XKR will have a slightly different kind of appeal. As dynamic development expert Michelle O’Connor explained while we speared across the Warwickshire landscape, Jaguar has slightly altered the dynamic character of this car, partly because it has to, and partly out of choice.