The Jaguar XK series was first introduced in the 1990s and was an interesting mix of muscle and luxury. The luxury components and spacious cabin weighed down the car, meaning it couldn’t keep up with “pure” sports cars, but the combination showed promise. The brand new 2010 Jaguar XKR fulfills that promise and delivers a thrilling ride with all the attendent luxury expected in a Jag.
The previous model’s 4.2-liter V8 is out, and a brand new 5.0-liter V8 is in. The base level XK8 engine produces 385 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. The high trim level XKR features the same V8 affixed with a supercharger that brings the power to an astonishing 510 horsepower and 461 lb-ft of torque. And, the XKR is slated to have a high enough fuel economy to avoid the U.S. gas guzzler tax. Pretty impressive.
Okay, now on to the real test: how does it handle? You can put an even bigger engine in an ocean liner, but it is still going to turn like an ocean liner. So, does the 2010 XKR shed the reputation of turning like a land-bound cruise ship? Surprisingly, yes. Firmer springs and shocks help the car keep firmly flat on the ground when taking a tight turn and strong anti-roll bars keep you in control. But, when driving the XKR, you don’t feel as though you want to. The ride is smooth and the seats are comfortable, so why not enjoy the ride?
Perhaps the most tantalizing thing about the new XKR isn’t the XKR at all. Jaguar is planning on making a new convertible/coupe model for the 2011 model year called the XE and XER that will incorporate many of the XKR’s best features (and with luck, the engine), while shedding a lot of weight and having a smaller price tag than the XKR’s $102,000. Preliminary details are scarce, but the 2011 XER could potentially give Porsche’s 911 a run for its money.