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June 3, 2009 > Auto Review: Jaguar XKR Convertible

Auto Review: Jaguar XKR Convertible

I have said this in the past, and I still agree, the Jaguar XK series cars are one of the most attractive automobile shapes that have ever been produced. Their lines flow gracefully from any direction. It is a forceful design that tells you, "I'm fast, fun, and impressive." Both the coupe version and our test convertible are really pretty cars. When you slide the R motor under their long hood, the "fast" part ratchets up significantly.

Jaguar is now owned by an Indian corporation headquartered in Mumbai with 23,000 employees. In mid-2008 Tata Motors Limited bought both Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford. With current problems in the US auto industry, this sale was probably a good deal for both Ford and Tata.

Our test XKR Convertible was a very sedate but impressive gray exterior color with a charcoal leather interior. If I let my mind wander a little, I could envision myself as James Bond running from Blofeld's henchman down the back roads of Europe. Hammering the throttle snapped me back into reality as the big supercharged V-8 unleashed its 420 horses to rip up the pavement under its massive tires.

The R-Model gets a 4.2-liter, supercharged, 4-cam, aluminum V-8. Because it is supercharged, it has no turbo lag when you ask the engine room for more power and the 413 foot pounds of torque are delivered the instant you ask for it. The engine makes beautiful sounds when it is pulling hard and I would gun it, just to listen to the music. The 6-speed automatic transmission can be manually paddle shifted to extract the entire engine's potential.

The big cat is truly fun to drive. It felt nimble, light, solid, and effortless as we pounded up my favorite twisty road. The chassis and suspension responded very well for such a large vehicle. One reason for its great performance is that the XK's and XKR's chassis and body shell are made from aluminum alloy to reduce the car's weight.

My wife loved the drop top big cat. She felt it had fantastic brakes. The R-Model gets bigger brakes than the standard XK model. She said that they were light to the touch and required little effort to make a quick, concise stop. She especially liked the great headlights.

The XK cars are really 2+2 vehicles. Even though they have a back seat, there is no real leg room in the back. Also the trunk is small for such a big car so you may want to use the rear seat as a secondary cargo area. With the top down, the passenger area was fairly windy, but isn't that why you buy a rag top? With the top up, it was very quiet inside.

XKR's interior was exquisite. It is exactly how you would imagine a high-end convertible would be built. Your command center starts with 16-way adjustable, Italian leather, heated seats. The steering wheel and shift lever are also covered in leather. The 7-color touch screen navigation system plots your course to new adventurers. The sound system is of concert hall quality.

A base XK uses the same V-8 engine without the supercharger and develops 300 HP. An XK coupe currently starts at $77,975 with the convertible starting at $83,975. The XKR coupe has a current base price of $88,475. The current base price of our test XKR convertible is $94,475; various options brought the total up to $104,425. Yes, XKRs are pricy, but if you can afford one, you will find it one of the most impressive cars you have ever owned.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists

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