Okay, so a Jaguar isn’t a lion, but with 542bhp of instant supercharged V8 grunt and an exhaust roar to terrify anything with ears, this big cat is definitely one of the very baddest beasties in any town.
With 295mm of rubber-width across each 20-inch-tall Vulcan dark-grey alloy rear wheel, on a dry and crisp February day, the Jaguar XKR-S gets great tyre grip and really goes. Prod the power pedal in this French Racing Blue drop-top and the engine-belt-driven supercharger immediately leaps into life to back up the already naturally torquey 5-litre, 32-valve V8 petrol engine, to fire up a cacophony of power that blasts the Big S to 60mph in just 4.2 seconds. It’s rip-roaring rapid alright, and there aren’t many cars – at around £100,000 – that can summon this much mumbo without lag or pause. If the impressively unnoticeable traction control wasn’t on, you’d be burning Pirelli P-Zeros in huge plumes of smoke.
It’s pretty darn cold today, but I’m rolling the XKR-S with the roof down and the heater up, letting all of that lovely supercharged soundtrack wrap around my chilly ears like a scorching sound-wave-scarf. In the middle of nowhere on some cracking back lanes, and the only problem is for the air behind the R-S that’s getting regularly pounded every time I open up the sound-flaps in the big bore exhaust system. The noise is pure apocalypse! It’s also seriously addictive, so I’d like to say sorry to any nearby sheep that nearly choked on a mouthful of grass at the hands of the Jag’s sonic boom.
Conspicuous? Erm yeah, kinda. The XKR-S also looks great in white, which really highlights the liberal use of deep-gloss-black carbon fibre for the splitters and spoilers that direct the fast airflow all over its fat, wide and low body. But, for me, it’s this French Racing Blue every time.
The electric-blue paint and raucous back-end-bark of the Jaguar XKR-S will get you spotted quicker than a particularly well-endowed bouncing blonde streaker, so if under the radar is your bag, forget about it. Next time a story about Spitfires comes on the TV, turn it up to the max and smear your ear across the speaker, and you’ll get some idea of the snap, crackle, bark and pop that rattles from the quad-exit tailpipes behind the Jag.
She’s a big cat, all right. But plenty of aluminium and carbon keep her weight down to a respectable-ish circa 2,000kg; an all-aluminium engine helps, too. Down these twisting back lanes and the car handles its weight pretty well, although you do need to adjust your brain for the incredible pace at which it will cover the ground, and give yourself time to brake for big bends. It’s got massive brakes and plenty of clever electrics to gather up momentum and power and put it safely on the tarmac, but with great power comes great smiles, and adrenalin. Just don’t get carried away!
The Jaguar XKR-S is a car that’s easy to love. It looks about as wild as a freshly slapped big jungle cat, with its massive racecar-style presence, and with that silky-smooth V8 and 186mph potential, it’ll gobble up continents just like said big cat would gobble up free steak. My only issue with any XKR is a slightly cramped – but beautifully executed – interior for this 6’ 4” driver, and the fact that owning one would mean dealing with irate neighbours all too regularly.
By Dan Anslow