2011 Jaguar XKR ConvertiblePosted on August 30th, 2010
Classic sports car evolves with new technology
By Nina Russin
In my next life, I plan to be an obscenely rich rock star, and drive a Jaguar XKR. The only thing keeping me from buying one now is the convertible’s hundred-thousand dollar price tag.
Is the XKR well suited for active lifestyles? No particularly. Do I care? Not a whit. The fact that the XKR is both exquisitely beautiful and scarily fast is good enough for me.
Jaguar’s two-plus-two, available as both a coupe and convertible, is the latest in a long line of classic sports cars, dating back to the XK120, C, D and E-types. The current versions rolled out in 2009 as 2010 models, with new, more powerful engines and revised styling.
Designers maintained the long bulbous nose and snub rear end that Jaguar two-plus-twos are famous for. They modified the bumper from the previous design, added LED tail lamps, more aggressive exhaust pipes, and a new rear spoiler. Except for some new chrome flourishes, the mesh grille from previous XK models is unchanged.
R designates the supercharged car, powered by a 510-horsepower, V-8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. The convertible accelerates from zero-to-sixty in 4.6 seconds. The car reaches peak torque- 461 foot-pounds- at 2500 rpm, thanks to the engine-driven blower.
Engineers adapted Jaguar’s unique rotary shift knob from the XF, replacing the J-shift lever in previous models. The knob rises out of the center console when the driver turns on the ignition. Those who prefer manual gear selection can use formula-style paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
The XKR comes standard with keyless entry and start, heated and cooled leather seats, a touchscreen navigation system, satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity. Bi-xenon headlamps produce a brighter and longer beam of light than halogen.
Base price is $101,150, not including an $850 destination charge. Twenty-inch wheels on the test car add $5000, bringing the price as tested to $107,000.
Test drive in Arizona
The summer heat took a break this week, affording perfect top-down weather for the convertible. A button on the overhead console deploys the top, stows it in the boot and lowers the windows. The operation takes less than 18 seconds.
Driving with the top down makes it harder to hear the Bowers & Wilkins audio system, but it’s worth the sacrifice. All the smells and sounds of the world swirl through the passenger compartment.
The exhaust note- music itself- is louder. On a not-too-sunny and not-too-hot day in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix, life doesn’t get any better.
Engineers used a new supercharger design, with improved thermodynamics, thanks to twin intercoolers. Intercoolers keep the air entering the blower colder and therefore denser for better performance. The blower is also quieter than on the previous model.
The engine itself is an aluminum block with aluminum heads and cast-iron liners, making it both lightweight and durable. Direct injection delivers fuel directly into the engine cylinders, bypassing the valves. The advantage is better throttle response and reduced parasitic fuel loss.
Fuel economy isn’t great, due to the engine’s size and power. Mileage during my test drive was on par with the EPA’s figures of 15/22 mpg city/highway.
The ZF Six-speed automatic transmission automatically modifies shift points according to the driver’s style. The effect is a continuous stream of power, with no perceptible shift shock. I punched the throttle hard on a couple of steep grades just to be sure.
The car’s twenty-inch wheels are an upgrade from the standard 19-inch rims. The low-profile tires provide a large and stable footprint at speed. The performance wheels and tires work well in Arizona where potholes are a rarity. I’m not sure how well they would work for daily driving in four-season climates.
Steering response is excellent at all speeds. A 35.8-foot turning radius makes it easy to park the car, and to maneuver it through tight traffic.
An adaptive damping system monitors steering inputs and wheel position to control vertical movement, roll and pitch. The driver can choose dynamic mode, the stiffest suspension setting, for aggressive driving.
Winter mode dampens the throttle to prevent skidding on snow and ice. An active rear differential automatically locks when necessary to keep the car tracking straight.
Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel antilock braking stop the car on a dime.
While visibility is not a problem with the top down, the view to the back is limited with the top in place. Park assist automatically sounds an audible alarm if sensors detect obstacles to the car’s front or rear. The side mirrors tilt down when the driver shifts into reverse, making it easier to see the curb. The mirrors also fold into the car when the driver locks the doors to prevent vandalism.
The convertible’s luxurious interior seats two adults. Two very small seats in the back of the car are primarily a nod to the insurance companies.
Ten-way seat adjustments utilize controls on the door panels where they are easy to reach. Standard seat heaters and coolers keep the driver and front passenger comfortable in temperature extremes.
I was impressed with the interior quiet when the top is in place. The triple-lined fabric also does an excellent job of insulating the interior against heat. The XKR’s rigid body structure makes cowl shake a non-issue.
Audio and temperature controls in the center stack are easy to reach from either seating position. A display screen uses touch controls for navigation, audio and climate control settings. I found the screen difficult to read in bright sunlight: in low light and at night it’s quite legible.
The center console includes the ignition button, which pulses red when the driver enters the car and depresses the brake. The rotary gear select knob is flush with the console surface except in use. Cupholders in the center console will hold small cans of soda, but not water bottles.
The convertible’s trunk is quite small, since storage for the soft top takes up much of the space. I was able to fit a carry-on size roller board inside and a few grocery bags.
The XKR convertible comes with a hidden rollbar that automatically deploys in the event of an accident. There are six standard airbags, active front head restraints to protect against whiplash, and a tire pressure monitoring system, which is very helpful with the low-profile tires. Antilock braking, traction and stability control are also standard.
Jaguar’s five year/50,000 mile warranty includes complimentary scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance. The XKR convertible is on display at Jaguar dealerships nationwide.
Likes: A beautiful convertible with a fast, refined powertrain and excellent handling. The cloth top is easy to deploy, and does a good job of insulating the cabin during temperature extremes.
Dislikes: Cupholders are too small to be practical; lack of trunk space.
Model: XKR convertible
Base price: $101,150
As tested: $107,000
Horsepower: 510 Hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 461 lbs.-ft. @ 2500 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 4.6 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: N/A All cars come with thorax airbags.
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 15/22 mpg city/highway
3 responses to “2011 Jaguar XKR Convertible”
Lower it! gotta be done.
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The seats adjust 16 ways, not ten. Great article.
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