GRR

Dan Trent: Jaguar XKR-S – The British muscle car?

08th November 2016
dan_trent_headshot.jpg Dan Trent

Having just taken delivery of a F-Type as a long-term test vehicle (feel my pain…) I'm rather loved up with fast Jaguars. I even got to choose the spec on this one, opting for a manual V6 S Coupe. First impressions are good. But it's not a cheap car, the £72K bottom line after (what I thought) was a reasonably restrained options spend somewhat hefty.

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Inevitably thoughts turned to what else along these lines a man might get for similar money. The X150 XK on which the F-Type is based has obvious temptations, this being the car Ian Callum set out his stall for his vision of Jaguar's styling language. And he did a rather fine job. This is a traditional GT that is confidently Jaguar without resorting to the F-Type's all-too-obvious E-Type references. And in XKR form with a 510hp supercharged V8 is both properly rapid and brimming with character. Classy but with just a hint of caddishness. Exactly what a Jaguar coupe should be, to my mind.

I'd assumed they'd be getting cheap by now. But they're not, XKRs now available from the mid 30s but really into the 40s by the time you start getting a decent selection. Enough to get you into a top spec C63 AMG if V8 coupes are your thing. Ah well, in for a penny…

Because what I'd really like is an XKR-S. Launched in 2011, the S raised power from 510hp to 550hp. As in all its installations, the supercharged 5.0-litre AJ-V8 sounds absolutely spectacular too, an ever-present bassline overlayed with a proper top-end snarl and lots of crackling and pops on the overrun. Everything in the car was updated to cope with the extra power too, from the new suspension knuckles to the bigger brakes, the recalibrated electronic locking diff (essential to the XKR-S's unapologetically manly handling balance) and a proper aero package.

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"The physics required to achieve 187mph have led the aesthetic; if you don’t like the way it looks, you probably won’t like the way it drives either,” said Ian Callum in the press release accompanying the car's launch. I like that attitude. I like the way it looks. And I really, really like the way it drives.

This is perhaps surprising to me because I usually prefer lighter, sharper cars. And the XKR-S is a bit of a thug, albeit one with richly detailed feedback through the steering and chassis and an unabashed enthusiasm to steer from the rear. Yet it's also one of those rare performance cars that's as fun to potter around in as it is to really let rip. 

These were £100K cars new so it's perhaps churlish to consider £50-£60,000 expensive, given most are still low on miles. There is a private one for £42K but it's a Cat D repair. £52K would get me into this tasteful Italian Racing Red example, this being a rather more classy combination than the signature French Racing Blue launch colour. Then I saw this black one. And, OK, at £59,991 it's priced at the top end. But it'd have cost its buyer £100K with those lovely wheels and the rest of the options. And it looks so sinister in black.

So yes. A very British muscle car. One with depth, finesse, style AND a socking great V8. All for less than the price of 'my' V6 F-Type before I even got near the options sheet.

Photography courtesy of Pistonheads.

  • Jaguar

  • XKR

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