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  • 2008 Jaguar XKR Coupe

    Posted on July 10th, 2008 ninarussin

    Supercharged leaper
    By Nina Russin

    Jaguar XKR Coupe

    Jaguar XKR Coupe

    Of all the panthers in Jaguar’s den, the bullet-shaped XKR is its most alluring animal. The supercharged version of the XK coupe packs 420-horsepower inside an aluminum monocoque shell, atop twenty-inch rims with low-profile, Z-rated tires.

    Jaguar’s most powerful leaper accelerates from zero-to-sixty in 4.9 seconds, with top speed electrically limited to 155 miles-per-hour. With styling that harkens back to the legendary E-type, the XKR stands out in any crowd as harmonic, kinetic sculpture.

    Last summer, I had the opportunity to drive the XKR convertible; this spring, it was the coupe. Base price is $86,035. In addition to the optional twenty-inch wheels ($5000), the coupe has adaptive cruise control ($2200), aluminum weave interior finish ($2500), and a premium sound package ($1875). After a $665 delivery charge, MSRP comes to $98,275.

    Power to the rear haunches

    The supercharger boosts engine power by 120-horsepower over the naturally-aspirated XK, and adds about a third more torque. Despite its animal instincts, the Jaguar’s ride and handling have a fluidity more characteristic of grand tourers than club racers.

    The aluminum monocoque on the current car replaces a steel body in the previous generation, significantly decreasing its curb weight while enhancing torsional stiffness. What that means to the driver is better steering response and on-center feel, especially at speed.

    A six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift option closely matches gears to the car’s power output for better fuel economy. The driver can shift manually using the gear shift lever, or Formula 1 style, using paddles on back of the steering wheel.

    Variable valve timing also boosts fuel economy, and minimizes toxic emissions. Despite the gas saving technology, the 4.2-liter engine is thirsty. Average fuel economy is about 18 miles per gallon.

    Fun has its price. But for those who can afford it, the XKR is money well spent. Computer active technology suspension makes real time adjustments for the driver’s style and terrain. The driver chooses between comfort and sport modes, and the car does the rest.

    Spring rates are stiffer than on the XK to keep the XKR flat in the corners. Engineers added a brace between the rear dampers to accommodate the stiffer springs. I’ve taken the XKR downhill fast on a decreasing radius turn, and felt completely in control all the way.

    Speed-sensitive power steering makes it easy to maneuver through a parking lot at low speeds, and still have good steering feel on the highway. I had to play around with the side mirrors a little to get the position right, but once done, they did a good job of minimizing blind spots to the rear.

    Fourteen-inch rotors in front and 12.8 discs in back make the Jaguar stop on a dime. Four-channel antilock braking, electronic brake force distribution and hydraulic brake assist are standard safety features.

    Makes the daily commute an out-of-body experience

    It’s hard to lose patience in traffic while fondling a leather, three spoke steering wheel. My first experience in the driver’s seat was at the height of Phoenix rush-hour, on the 101 freeway that runs north/south in the east valley.

    The XKR’s low end torque comes in handy when making sudden lane changes. The four exhaust pipes emit an all-business growl during hard acceleration, that puts surrounding drivers on alert.

    On highways awash with full-sized trucks, speed is a small car’s best friend. Being able to move out of the way of drivers who might or might not be able to see the low-profile coupe gave me an added measure of comfort.

    At speed, the Jaguar’s light weight and enhanced torsional stiffness give it a nimble feel. Ride and handling are, like its namesake, cat-like. The Jaguar runs circles around slower, heavier cars on the road, and revels in its ability to do so.

    Active front lighting, standard on all models, makes it easier to see on poorly lit roads. The lights follow the steering wheel movements, illuminating dark corners when the driver turns. Adaptive cruise control on the test car allows the driver to maintain a preset distance from the car in front. It’s a great feature on long trips, but not very practical in thick traffic, since other drivers will dive into any hole they can find.

    Inside, luxury for two

    While it’s technically a two-plus-two, there is no possible way for adults to sit in the back seats. Just to be sure, I tried it myself. The front seatbelt is routed through an anchor on the driver’s seatback: to get in back I had to climb under the belt, and over the large rear wheel arch.

    Once inside, I was unable to keep my feet on the floor with the front seatback in place. Because of the low roofline, there was no headroom either. My only option was to curl up in a fetal position: an uncomfortable posture that makes it impossible to secure the three-point seatbelt. I’d recommend using the rear seats is as a storage shelf, or for a very small animal.

    Up front, both driver and passenger ride in luxury, with ten-way adjustable power seats. The  car can store several seat, steering wheel and outside mirror configurations in the its memory, so multiple family members can share driving pleasures. There is a separate set of memory controls for the front passenger.

    The test car has available aluminum weave veneer, similar to the design on the 2006 show car. It contrasts nicely with the white leather trim to give the interior an upscale, modern look.

    The Alpine six-speaker audio system produces perfectly balanced sound throughout the cockpit. Redundant volume controls on the steering wheel allow the driver to make changes with a minimum of distraction.

    All models come standard with Sirius satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity, which integrates mobile phones for hands-free use. A DVD-based navigation system is standard on all models.

    While storage areas in the passenger cabin are adequate for daily commuting, athletes will probably want larger cupholders, and more storage capacity. There are only two cupholders, located under the armrest next to the center console bin. The armrest slides fore and aft to expose the cupholders. The cigarette lighter also serves as a the car’s only twelve-volt power point.

    An electronic brake release is located on one side of the shift lever. The ignition start/stop button is also on the floor console, opposite an on/off switch for the dynamic stability control. There are small map pockets in the doors, and the glove box is big enough to hold a few items in addition to the owner’s manual and registration papers. Both front seatbacks also have map pockets.

    While the cargo bay is too small to hold a bicycle, it is much larger than the trunk on the convertible. I had no problem loading large cartons and duffle bags inside. An undersized spare tire is stowed, with the jack, in a compartment under the cargo floor.

    Standard safety

    Standard safety features include front and side airbags, rollover and whiplash protection, electronic stability program, antilock brakes, traction control and an available first aid kit. Side curtain airbags are not available.

    While it isn’t a car for everyone, I can’t imagine any driving enthusiast turning down the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a Jaguar XKR. In addition to its outstanding ride and handling, the coupe’s quiet, luxurious cabin makes it a comfortable car to take on a road trip. The XKR has the power and performance to be a formidable contender on the track, and the sophistication to be equally adept at the daily commute.

    Likes: The XKR is an outstanding performer that is extremely easy to drive, thanks to its refined drivetrain, and active safety features such as dynamic stability control, antilock brakes, adaptive cruise control and active front lighting. The coupe’s design, inspired by the legendary E-type, makes the XKR an instant classic.

    Dislikes: Rear seats are useless, except as a way to lower insurance costs. Active adults will feel limited by the small cargo area, small cupholders, lack of power points, and limited storage options within the passenger compartment.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Jaguar
    Model: XKR coupe
    Year: 2008
    Base price: $86,035
    As tested: $98,275
    Horsepower: 420 Hp @ 6000 rpm
    Torque: 413 lbs.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: 4.9 seconds
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Not available
    First aid kit: Optional
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 15/23 mpg city/highway
    Comments: Base price does not include a $665 destination charge.

     

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