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Jaguar Xkr special edition

test drive

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Jaguar’s gorgeous XKR has always offered a mesmerising blend of performance and luxury. Now, by adding the Speed and Black Packs to its extensive arsenal, the blown cat looks set to maul its German rivals by Nitish Ramanujam

Cat on the


test drive

56 top performance Just look at it, will you! Frankly, this has to be the best-looking car I’ve driven in a long time, Astons and Ferraris included. Penned by Ian Callum, the man responsible for the Aston Martin DB7 and Vanquish, Jaguar’s XK looks as stunning now as it did when it was launched back at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show. The top-flight XKR, replete with subtle visual upgrades and a meatier stance, is even more fabulous to look at. Though Jaguar has a storied history, their offerings in the not too distant past have been quite dubious in terms of offering a cohesive package, lacking something or the other. Probably, that has something to do with the bean counters, who conjured up the likes of the Ford Mondeo-derived X-Type in order to boost sales. Thankfully, Jaguar has had a total makeover and now we have absolutely gorgeous machinery like the XF, XJ and the XK. The dowdy cigar-chomping gentleman’s image has been replaced with a hip new persona, one that stands at the über end of cool. I had driven the XFR, equipped with the same blown 5.0-litre V8, and that was a fantastic drive as well as a better sorted package than Mercedes’ mighty E63

57 AMG, which is saying something! So it was with sweaty palms that I awaited the drive in the XKR, and it’s no ordinary XKR either, mind you. The one here, dubbed the XKR Special Edition, is fitted with Jaguar’s Speed Pack and Black Pack, two packages that dish out performance and visual upgrades to an already fantastic car.

On the outside Sublime, that’s what this car is. At the front, the Jag gets a deep set bumper incorporating an air intake, accompanied by serious-looking vents on the sides. Louvers flaunting the ‘supercharged’ logo adorn the sharply creased bonnet. The taut lines are nicely accented by muscular haunches and a set of side skirts, while the sexy

rear features LED taillights, a massive rear valance and a quartet of exhaust pipes that look the business. Our Polaris White tester came equipped with the Black Pack, which replaces the chrome trim on the mesh grille, air vents and window surrounds with gloss black finishing. Also unique to the package are red brake callipers, peeking from beneath 20” gloss black Kalimnos alloy wheels. The optional ‘XKR’ body graphic that runs along the door sills looks a bit boy racerish, I admit, but adds to the character of the XKR nevertheless. The contemporary interior, meanwhile, is an inviting mix of leather, wood and aluminium. Sporting multi-adjustable, heated and cooled sport seats, the clean and crisp nature of the cabin is accented by the now-familiar rotary gear selector dial that pops up when you turn the car on. We found the touch screen interface to be a bit quirky to use, but it’s more than made up for by the fantastic Bowers & Wilkins 525-watt system, which features Dolby ProLogicII Surround Sound, three-channel stereo, Kevlar mid-range speakers and specially designed aluminium tweeters.

Special Edition XKR includes both the "Black Pack" and "Speed Pack". Apart from the increased 280 km/h top speed, there are subtle aero bits, black exterior accents, racy graphics and red brake callipers peeking from behind 20" "Kalimnos" wheels.

Under the hood If you think this car is all show, you couldn’t be more wrong. Packing a blown 5.0-litre V8 under the bonnet, the XKR makes a staggering 510 horsepower and 625 Nm of torque. The AJ-V8 Gen III R motor is built around a compact and lightweight aluminium block and aluminium heads with four valves per cylinder. Engine internals are forged, while sophisticated materials are used to produce the quad camshafts.

A sixth-generation, twin-vortex system supercharger is fitted to the XKR’s 510hp engine. The blower is a compact Rootstype unit, feeding air through twin intercoolers, which in turn are water-cooled by their own cooling circuit. The rotor design is said to improve the supercharger’s thermodynamic efficiency by 16 percent over its predecessor and improves noise quality to the point where the unit is now virtually inaudible.

The new engine also gets a slightly higher compression ratio of 9.5:1 over the previous XKR, and packs sophisticated technological solutions in order to achieve this kind of power combined with refinement, smoothness, fuel efficiency and cleaner emissions. The folks at Jaguar have used a centrally-mounted, multi-hole, spray-guided fuel injection system, delivering fuel at a pressure of up to 150bar directly to the cylinders. In addition to that, a new type of variable camshaft timing system is acti-

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test drive

59 CATS only offered two settings - ‘soft’ and ‘firm’ - the new Adaptive Damping System in effect provides a continuously variable damping strategy between wide extremes, benefitting ride comfort, ultimate control handling and grip.

At the wheel

vated by the positive and negative torques generated by opening and closing the intake and exhaust valves, instead of by oil pressure, which has allowed the engine oil pump to be reduced in size, saving energy and improving fuel consumption. Finally, an innovative reverse-flow cooling system design has been employed to deliver thermodynamic and friction improvements. The reverse-flow cooling system pumps coolant through the cylinder heads before it flows through the block and returns to the radiator, with the resulting cooler cylinder heads allowing for more optimum, knock-free, ignition timings.

All that power flows to the rear wheels via an uprated version of the ZF 6HP28 6-speed transmission, which gets additional clutch plates and an uprated torque converter to accommodate the extra power. And yes, the Speed Pack extends the top whack of the XKR from a rather pedestrian 250 km/h to a more interesting 280 km/h, thanks to engine and transmission recalibration. To ensure the XKR remains stable at ridiculous speeds, the swoopy two-door uses a revised front aerodynamic splitter and larger rear spoiler to provide increased balance and a reduction in lift.

The Jag’s computerised Active Differential Control also adjusts to reduce steering sensitivity at very high speeds, further improving stability and driver control.

The stiff stuff The latest generation of Adaptive Dynamics replaces Jaguar’s proven Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS) with an even more sophisticated solution. Active damper tuning systems remove many of the compromises of a passive damping system – which must make a single choice between softer damping for a comfortable ride and firmer damping for more tautly controlled handling. CATS overcame that compromise with automatically switchable damping modes, adapting to the road and how the car was driven. But where

WE LIKE Sinfully good looking Torquey supercharged V8 Mind-reading transmission Impressive body control Sublime ride

The torquey supercharged 5.0-litre V8 finds a perfect companion in the quick-shifting 6-speed automatic. While 0-100 km/h takes just 4.8 seconds, in-gear thrust is also instant and immense. Speed Pack features recalibrated engine and transmission parameters for increased top speed.

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT Sadly, the XKR-S will be out soon Very thirsty

The big cat’s sporting intentions are very clear the moment you step inside, the ‘Start/Stop’ button pulsing red, sort of like an invitation to go hunting for supercars together. Turn the gear selector to ‘D’ for a relaxed drive or twist it a notch further into ‘S’ for a more intense experience that not only sharpens the throttle and shift responses but also firms up the handling. The mighty supercharged V8 is a gentle beast, boasting linear power delivery and massive torque that, when combined with the instantaneous gearshifts, lets you hit 100 km/h from a standstill in a scant 4.8 seconds. It is no woolly lamb in the corners either, as the XKR delves into the twisty bits with genuine bite and confidence, accompanied by utterly magnificent damping control. And thanks to the active exhaust valve, it sounds incredible at full crack too. For ultimate thrills, Dynamic Mode is your choice, which increases body control and loosens the electronic safety net a good bit in addition to serving up further improved throttle and shift responses. Time to go powersliding then!

Our verdict The Special Edition XKR is for all purposes a standard XKR kitted out with slight perfor-

Quick Spec Engine : 5000cc V8 supercharged Layout : Front engine / RWD Power : 510 hp @ 6000-6500 rpm Torque : 625 Nm @ 2500-5500 rpm Transmission : 6-speed automatic Vehicle Courtesy : Jaguar Middle East mance and visual upgrades, which just goes to show how good the standard car is. With an extensive repertoire of improved tech, the new Jag is undoubtedly a class part from its predecessor, and impresses with a truly sublime experience whether cruising down Beach Road or charging hard up the sinuous Jebel Hafeet mountains. Should you decide to unleash the crazy power lurking underneath, rest assured the car is more than a willing partner. But be warned, you’ll probably spend more time just gawping at those sinful curves!

Stylish interior is well-appointed and offers a good driving position, thanks to multi-adjustable seats. Rotary gear selector is easy to use, but we still find it a bit gimmicky.

Top Performance | Jaguar XKR Speed/Black Pack  

Leading Middle Eastern Performance/Tuning Magazine, Top Performance, get their hands on the Jaguar XKR Black/Speed pack.