The cat from Coventry
Jaguar XKR: Price: `1.1 crore, (ex-showroom,
without octroi, but inclusive of 12.5% VAT)
Kitna deti hai? Joking? It’s not supposed to be asked. Okay 4.5 kmpl
Fuel tank: 70.6 litres
Full tank good for: About 300 km
Dimensions/feet: L/W/H: 15.72x6.2x4.33
Talk of sports cars, and it’s either the Germans or the Italians that pop in mind straight up. We tend to forget the heritage that English sports cars too have, embellished by the Racing Green.
That’s also because not many manufacturers from Inglaterra have driven their way down.
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We drove the white-hot XKR this week — the only GT (GT = Gran Turismo in Italian or Grand Tourer in Queen’s lingua) coupe in the carmaker’s portfolio currently. Indeed, Jaguar did announce the launch of a smaller sports car, the F-Type, in New York recently, but that will hit the roads only sometime next year.
The XKR’s styling is True Brit: curves and haunches personifying raw muscularity with oodles of sophistication.
The shallow glass-in area affords an aggressive stance, as is emblematic of sports cars. The scowling feline monogram accentuating an unending bonnet can give the goosebumps, while sloping shoulder-lines meld with the integrated rear spoiler, giving the vehicle a terrific bearing.
The interiors of the XKR are exquisite, if not very lavish for some sourpuss. The twin-dial blue-backlit instrument binnacle is easy to read. The multi-touch screen is simple to understand and operate. Despite many beautifully finished buttons and knobs, nothing feels out of place or cluttered. So simple is the layout that no degree in rocket-science is obligatory to use them. The XKR gets the pop-up gear-shifter knob, the Star Wars style feature that’s now standard across Jaguars.
Being a GT, there is sufficient space in the front row with massive, comfy seats. The second row is tight for children — they’ll enjoy only short rides.
The trunk has sufficient room to swallow a weekend’s luggage. The large steering wheel is chunky and easy. The lesser glass-area might add to the sportiness, but this does affect the overall visibility around the car.
The XKR gets one of the most powerful engines from the Jaguar spectrum, which is the supercharged 5-litre V8 petrol that generates a frightening 510PS of power and 625Nm of torque. And 0 to 100 km? Just 4.6 seconds.
The engine fires to life when the start button is pushed. The powerhouse is assisted by the sixth-generation Eaton supercharger that ensures the low-end and mid-range thrust is mind-boggling. Floor the right foot and brace for personal lessons in physics - the thrust will push you deep into your seat. While the power surge is narcotising, the growl from the twin exhaust is positively exhilarating; Axl Rose and Slash, snarling and fretting, respectively, from the inside, don’t stand a chance.
For some time, the XKR was the most powerful Jaguar in production till the XKR S rolled out. We have lived to tell its tale, and we promise to tell you about the XKR-S in some time too, though we shudder to think what that one can do.
The XKR’s six-speed ZF transmission is smooth and quick shifting. Crank up and a chrome-bevelled gear knob rises from the shell; dialling it into R (reverse), N (neutral) or D (Drive) is such a breeze. This isn’t a dual-clutch box and yet there is not an iota of laziness. There are flappy paddles to play around too, just in case there are traction complaints — and we’d like to meet the sod who has one.
Shifts are smooth and flawless in the Comfort mode, but put them in the Sport mode to test your adrenalin threshold.
Ride and handling
The XKR is built for daily use — yes, some folks are kissed by God, remember? Hence the ride suppleness is excellent at all times. This missile is another example of modern sports cars, which have softer suspension set-up in the Comfort mode for practical purposes, thus enhancing the level of passenger experience.
The suspension soaks up most of Mumbai’s infamous undulations. The Sport mode ride is a wee stiff, but that’s about it.
The light steering makes driving in city traffic a complete pleasure, not to mention the surge of exquisite schadenfreude as lesser humans on the roads reset eyeballs.
Being a sports car, the XKR’s handling is agile too. Put it in the Sport mode and the exhaust note announces arrival. The superior steering urgency makes it more precise, direct and driver-involving than before. The chassis balance is wonderful and the adhesion offered by meaty tyres means hairpins are a non-issue. More so since electronic stability programme or ESP, the guardian angel, is ever watchful.
The XKR is a great GT car that doesn’t just offer a comfortable drive, but also has room for two people and their luggage for a weekend getaway. And the performance? It goes neck and neck — even ahead at times — with the German slayers. What you also get is a strong racing heritage, the exotica of the badge and unbelievably good looks that leave the gawkers agape.
Wait till you get inside...
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