The 2013 Jaguar XK-R is one cool cat that leaves an impression
The big news over at Jaguar is the arrival of the slinky F-Type roadster, a car which represents the brand’s first true sports car in nearly four decades. While two-seat sports cars have their appeal (picture lazy Sunday drives or a weekend cruise to the beach), they tend to fall short in the practicality department when it comes to fitting into our daily lives. This is where big grand touring (GT) machines like Jaguar’s sexy XK-R come into play. With seating for four, and a fairly substantial cargo area, it is easier for the consumer to justify their purchase.
Although the styling of the current XK-R has been around for six years, the all aluminum bodywork has retained its curvaceous appeal. The long hood and teardrop shape of the car reflect the designs of the great GT cars of the 1960s and 1970s, but also help the Jaguar establish its own identity in this age of largely cookie-cutter designs. The proportions and body lines of the XK-R hold up so well esthetically, that this is one of the few automotive designs that is often described using those adjectives usually reserved for describing the fine features of a beautiful woman. It is hard to look away from this shapely cat, and even while at a standstill, it appears to be ready to pounce.
Styling cues unique to the R model include an aggressive front fascia- complete with chin spoiler, hood mounted air intakes, subtle side skirts, and a rear diffuser. To complete the sporty look the car is fitted with a deck lid spoiler and quad exhaust pipes. One glance at the car and you will recognize that it has been designed for high-performance driving, but the overall appearance is classy and subdued, rather than over-the-top.
The interior is as refined as any proper English lady should be, but it is starting to show its age. Many of its luxury appointments and accessories seem dated when compared to those fitted to its closest rivals. The navigation system is seriously behind the times, and the operation of the 7-inch touch control screen is awkward and proved frustrating. All is not lost however, as the quality of the car’s leather hides and various trim pieces is impressive, as is the very powerful Bowers and Wilkins audio system.
As a rather tall, and broad fellow, I appreciated the amount of leg-, hip- and head-room offered me while seated behind the wheel. However, the rear seating area is best reserved for children, briefcases and gym bags. Should the need arise to transport larger items, the rear seatbacks fold down to expand available cargo capacity, which increases the XK-R’s overall utility.
Power and Handling
Under the hood resides a proven 5.0 L, super-charged, V-8 engine that produces a healthy 510- hp and 461 lb-ft of torque. This potent package delivers power to the rear wheels through a ZF engineered, six-speed, automatic gearbox equipped with some of the best paddle shifters in the business.
Acceleration is impressive from a standstill, as runs to 100 km/h can be executed in a mere 4.8 seconds, and the broad torque band and carefully selected gear ratios help ensure that the driver will always have access to extra power when required. Big, 20-inch, alloy wheels wrapped in sticky performance tires do their best to keep this big cat in contact with the pavement, but extra attention is required when the road surface is wet as it is easy to get the car’s tail wagging if you are too heavy on the throttle.
The XK-R employs a more aggressive suspension setup featuring up-rated springs and dampers, as well as a 10mm reduction in ride height
The throaty roar of the V-8 engine is delivered through an active exhaust system which emits a pleasant rumble when the vehicle is operating under normal driving conditions, but when the car is driven in anger, this big cat wails for attention. If you listen closely, trained ears will pick up the subtle whine of the big Eaton supercharger. Unfortunately, all this aural bliss was forced to compete with a faulty horn system which seemed to mysteriously dispense its intrusive “beep, beep” alert at random intervals during my time with the car. So far there has been no explanation for this odd occurrence, but as my test vehicle was white in colour, I affectionately named it Casper the Friendly Jaguar.
The XK-R employs a more aggressive suspension setup featuring up-rated springs and dampers, as well as a 10mm reduction in ride height. Although the resulting ride is firm, it doesn’t beat you up, and enthusiast drivers will appreciate the feedback it transmits through the seat. On a positive note, there is very little body roll exhibited during high-speed cornering manoeuvres, and the car tracks straight as an arrow.
The typical XK-R buyer is a person who loves to drive, so this car has been engineered and equipped to deliver the goods. High-performance brakes are onboard to help rein in your enthusiasm, and they seem to stand up to the abuse that comes with aggressive driving and remained fade free throughout the testing period.
For those drivers looking to extract the most from the XK-R, it is possible to adjust many of the car’s performance and handling settings via a console mounted button. Selecting sport mode further sharpens the feel of the steering, suspension settings, engine mapping and throttle response. The traction and stability systems will also be optimized to permit the driver to extract the most from the car.
The Jaguar XK-R is a car that makes a statement about its owner; an individual who appreciates the car’s classic lines, grace and prestige. It is not the latest, or greatest, example of its kind, but the XK-R is a piece of rolling sculpture that leaves an impression on those individuals lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one in the wild.
2013 Jaguar XK-R Technical Specifications:
Base price (MSRP): $109,125 CAD
Price as tested: $117,250
Type: 4-passenger, 2-door, grand touring coupe
Layout: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Engine: Supercharged direct-injection 5.0-litre V8, DOHC, 32 valves
Horsepower: 510 @ 6,000-6,500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 461 @ 2,500-5,500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with paddle shifting capabilities
Curb weight: 1,753 kg. ( 3,864 lb.)
Fuel economy (L/100km): City 13.9 (20.3 mpg); Hwy 9.2 (30.7 mpg)