A V8 that James Bond would die for

Published: 11th November 2012 12:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th November 2012 03:40 PM   |  A+A-


I have tested many cars on every possible land strip with or without tarmac around the world in extreme conditions. The results after these test drives have either sometimes disappointed me or, on many occasions, have startled me after experiencing a new level of automotive technology and the adrenaline associated with it. British iconic luxury car maker Jaguar has been in the forefront of manufacturing cars that bear automotive excellence, and to get up close and personal with the sporting pedigree I took its penultimate racing edition car out on the roads in Europe. Here’s my experience with Jaguar’s fastest and the most powerful production series ever made—the high and mighty XKRS Coupe.

Jaguar rolled out its first XK series of cars in 1996 and it was at the prestigious Geneva Motor Show that the world got the first peek of what later went on to become one of the best selling series from the British luxury automaker’s stable. The company’s intention was very straight—offer a powerful thoroughbred engine packed with luxury comfort and excellent driving dynamics. This did the trick for the company and left the Jaguar aficionados knocking on the company’s doors to give them a more powerful and more sporty vehicle. However, it was only in 2012 at the Geneva salon when Jaguar decided to unleash the XKRS in a new supercharged avatar and made it differentiate from its other models on all parameters; in other words Jaguar unveiled a new powerful, sports car that is capable of taking any one on any condition.

So now that you know a little history about the evolution of the XKRS Coupe, its time to hit the road and tame the cat! But before I go to what I experienced, let’s talk about the design and exterior package.

The XKRS Coupe is one of the most beautiful sports car around. Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar’s new Global Brand Director, describes it as, “A bold and exciting new model for Jaguar. The styling of this car isn’t about image, it’s about true performance.” The unique front design features twin nacelles, side intakes, and carbon fibre splitter and lower spoiler. Then there are extended side sills which accentuate the car’s ground-hugging contours, and a unique rear wing with carbon fibre inlay and distinctive rear apron with a carbon fibre rear diffuser which balance front and rear lift.

The one which I drove was a French Racing Blue coupe, a colour unique to XKR-S. You can also pick new British Racing Green and Italian Racing Red, all of them that evoke Jaguar’s sporting heritage. Polaris White, Ultimate Black and Stratus Grey complete the palette. The XKR-S is fitted with new 20” Vulcan alloy wheels, forged and lightweight, in a unique dark technical finish. The distinctive brake calipers are painted red or grey and feature the Jaguar word marque.

Jaguar has spent an equal time in designing the interiors as it has spent on exteriors. The interiors speak luxury in every element you can think of. A choice of sporting interior themes are available, including the exclusive Warm Charcoal carbon and Soft grain leather with contrasting Reims Blue micro-piping and stitching. Carbon leather is also fitted to the door panels, Jet leather headlining and Dark Linear Aluminum veneer are standard and unique tread plates feature the ‘XKR-S’ motif. These motifs constantly entice you and give you the kick of driving the most powerful Jaguar ever built. Then there are new 16-way adjustable Performance seats which are upholstered in carbon. One thing which I will highlight here: normally if you drive a sports car for a long period of time (in my case for about 2,000 kms), your back will become pretty sore and you would need a nice massage to get over the soreness. But with the XKRS, it was a different case; despite pushing it hard and doing a bit of heavy cornering here and there, I felt very comfortable.

Then there are other features like 7” touch-screen that controls most major functions and keeps the number of conventional switches to a minimum. A masterpiece of clarity and intuitive functionality, it is used to operate the in-car Bowers & Wilkins 525W sound system, Bluetooth telephone system, satellite navigation and climate control. On the practicality, the XKRS features a Reverse Park Camera which is discreetly hidden in the XKR-S’ boot lid finisher.

Coming to the heart of the matter, the XK range’s highly efficient 5.0 litre V8 supercharged engine has been extensively recalibrated for the new XKR-S, making it the most powerful Jaguar road engine ever produced. Power output has been increased to 550PS and maximum torque now reaches 680Nm, giving the XKR-S a top speed of 300kph with acceleration from 0 to 100kph in 4.4 seconds. These figures put the XKRS Coupe in the same league as that of a Ferrari, Lamborghini or a Maserati GT something which the Brits will be definitely proud of and also we Indians now that Tata Motors is the custodian of this iconic brand.

The XKR-S’ six-speed automatic transmission is controlled by the JaguarDrive Selector, a beautifully designed cylindrical control that rises into the driver’s hand once the ‘Start’ button is pressed. Just simply turn the selector to choose Drive or Sport automatic gearshift mode.

The XKRS Coupe is extremely light weight vehicle thanks to excellence in engineering. A combination of lightweight aluminum body construction and revised suspension settings delivers pin-sharp handling and supreme control. Both the suspension front and rear have been re-engineered and revised for better driving conditions. The new XKRS’s Active Differential has been reprogrammed to reduce steering sensitivity at very high speed, increasing stability and driver control. The Dynamic Stability Control has also been reworked to match the car’s increased capabilities. The Jaguar High-Performance Braking System features lightweight aluminum twin-piston sliding front calipers and single-piston sliding rear calipers, to deliver superb high-speed braking performance.

The Jaguar XKRS was a pride to drive; every road I passed I had onlookers saluting the car or clicking pictures or trying to even tail the car to be close and see it properly. When you see reactions like this you automatically come to conclusion that it is an unique object which stands out from the pack. The rear seat easily manages to let decent adults sit without compromising too much on space. The boot space was very impressive and I could easily fit my big suitcase along with a small carry bag something which is missing in other sports cars.

The XKRS was a little heavy on the pocket when it came to fuel but definitely not a let-down. Throughout the 2,000 km journey on the highway and city roads, the XKRS gave me an approximate average mileage of 7 to 9 km/litre. Jaguar, which is slowly building a big product base in India, has already put the XKRS Coupe on sale and the response so far has been pretty good so far as the company is concerned. It is no doubt a selective model but a car that cannot be ignored. The company is only selling the coupe version in India at the moment priced at `1.6 crore. Having said that and after having tested and driven the most fastest and powerful Jaguar ever built, I must conclude that the XKRS is Jaguar’s perfect example of automotive par excellence.

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