Car reviews - Jaguar - XK - XKR range
23 Apr 2007
By CHRIS HARRIS
JAGUAR Australia has officially launched the supercharged version of its second-generation XK grand tourer introduced 10 months ago, giving it a real performance edge to go with its famous sleek looks.
The Jaguar XKR comes in both coupe and convertible form, but buyers will have to be patient as waiting lists already extend to the end of the year.
Prices start from $227,900 for the coupe while the convertible is priced from $249,900. This represents a $28,000 premium over the regular XK coupe and convertible models and a step up of $12,000-$18,000 from the previous XKR.
Jaguar has an allocation of 120 XKRs for 2007 (65 per cent of them coupes) and, thanks to appearances at the Brisbane and Melbourne motor shows, most of them have already been ordered by eager customers who start taking delivery from May.
Interestingly, Jaguar says that XK buyers are Jaguar’s youngest, averaging 53 years of age compared with 57 for the X-Type (surprisingly, the oldest buyers).
The first-generation XKR was originally sold here from 1998 with a 4.0-litre 276kW/525Nm supercharged V8 engine and was upgraded to the current 4.2-litre unit in October 2002.
Supercharging was chosen not only for its smoother and lower-revs power delivery, but also because of Jaguar’s long history with the device, dating back to its glory days at Le Mans.
Power is now 306kW at 6250rpm (compared with 224kW for the ‘atmo’ 4.2-litre XK and 298kW for the previous XKR) while maximum torque is 560Nm at 4000rpm (7Nm more than the previous model and up from 420Nm at 4100rpm in the XK).
The result is a healthy 0-100km/h time of 5.2 seconds and greatly enhanced mid-range acceleration, with an 80-110km/h overtaking time of just 2.5 seconds.
The six-speed ZF automatic gearbox with sequential changing function is retained, but electronic mapping changes have resulted in sharper changes and even more aggressive down-shifting, especially in Sport mode.
Jaguar Cars Limited’s chief body engineer Mark White said that the overall design brief for the XKR was that “everything was to be 30 per cent-plus better than the XK”.
Mr White said that the target cars were performance GTs like the BMW M6 and Mercedes-Benz SL55 through to hard-edged sports machines like the Aston Martin V8 Vantage and even the Porsche Carrera S.
However, in keeping with Jaguar tradition, they wanted a more refined delivery of its performance and to have a balance between comfort and sports performance.
And the XKR has a huge price advantage over some of these target rivals, undercutting both the BMW M6 and Mercedes-Benz SL500 by more than $45,000. However, it gives away plenty of performance to the V10-engined M6.
In terms of price, performance and looks, it lines up closely with the Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
Jaguar design chief Ian Callum (who also penned the Aston) apparently does not like the current trend towards folding hardtops – and nor did the engineers trying to make a hard-edged coupe – so the XKR coupe again follows its XK sibling in having a regular material soft-top that folds away between the (tiny) rear seat and the boot.
Holes are provided for a wind deflector, which is a dealer-fitted extra.
At 1715kg, the convertible weighs in 50kg above the coupe. They are 70-80kg more than equivalent regular XK models, but some 70kg and 100kg less respectively than the previous steel-chassis XKRs.
Suspension settings are identical between the coupe and convertible models in the XKR range, so soft-top drivers enjoy similar levels of dynamic performance. The front spring rate was increased by 38 per cent while the rears are up by 24 per cent (though they are effectively stiffer due to the addition of a rear suspension brace).
Brakes are 26 per cent bigger than on the XK (355mm x 32mm ventilated discs at the front), and design changes have resulted in them running 37 per cent cooler overall to ensure strong, consistent stopping power.
The XKR’s aluminium monocoque chassis is claimed to have superior torsional rigidity to its rivals. The coupe is 30 per cent stiffer than the previous steel-chassis XKR while the convertible is more than 40 per cent stiffer.
The XKR is easily identified from the regular XK by its bold aluminium mesh on the grille and also the deeper front air dam, twin bonnet louvres that exhaust hot air from the engine compartment, bold alloy side vents just ahead of the doors and R badging – not to mention four big exhaust outlets at the back.
It sits on massive 20-inch Senta 10-spoke alloy wheels (which are available as options on the XK) fitted with 255/35 tyres at the front and 285/30 at the rear.
Inside, there is more R branding (seat headrests, tachometer, steering wheel and gearknob) and a move to aluminium-weave design trim panels instead of the more traditional but old-fashioned woodgrain.
Jag executives seem pleased to report that two-thirds of XKRs are being ordered in Australia with the more modern-looking aluminium interior, which was first seen in the Advanced Lightweight Coupe design concept at the 2005 Detroit show.
The XKR also features a unique sports seat design with additional lateral support for both the driver and front seat passenger.
XKR customers can also specify the Luxury Sports interior option which features softgrain leather on the 16-way adjustable seats, instrument panel, door trim and centre console.
Standard features include adaptive damping, switchable stability control and traction control, pedestrian impact system (air bags under the bonnet), active headlights, front and rear parking sensors, electronic handbrake, rain-sensing wipers, leather upholstery, auto climate control, auto-dipping mirror, heated front seats, keyless entry and start, trip computer and satellite navigation.
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