The Jaguar XKR was already a competent, sporty grand tourer. So does the 'S' addition push it too far? Part 4 of our 300kmph club series from the evo India launch issue
Are you the kind that demands more meat in the sandwich? No vegetables and more potatoes with your rare steak? More power than can reasonably be expected of a chassis to cope with? The Jaguar XKR-S might just be the perfect car for you.
This is a wild, mental, slightly demented cat. Just one alphabet and the XKR is transformed, the madness ratcheted up to a gloriously demented degree. An ‘S’ tacked on to the badge and the (normal!) R is left feeling middling, not deserving of this company. Twenty lakh rupees bring forth an utterly ridiculous transformation that includes:
A terrible body kit. Terribly, achingly, desirable if you are anything like us. Terribly garish if you have an air of sophistication. It’s a striking departure from the smooth, elegant XKR and starts with twin ducts ahead of the bonnet, side air intakes, slimmer LED headlights and a more compact main grille. The rear has a mighty carbon fibre diffuser and a wing that is both out of place and so very apt on this beefy mo-fo. In French Racing Blue the word shouty was created for it.
If you don’t like the way it looks it is safe to assume you will not care about the way it moves. If ever there was a car that was way too powerful for its own good, this one is it. Step on the throttle, especially when it is wet (like it is now), and you will shit a brick. The standard, and not exactly lacking for power, supercharged 5.0-litre AJ-V8 gets 39 more horsepower for a sum total of 542bhp. Torque is up 55Nm to 680Nm. And the bespoke Pirelli P-Zero rear tyres will forever fight a losing battle with tarmac. 0-100kmph is a claimed 4.2 seconds, which is par for the course in this company, but the way it goes about putting that mighty slug of instantaneous, supercharged, torque to tarmac leaves you wide-eyed and breathless. Very scared too. Apply more than a quarter throttle and the rear tyres – serious rubber I should add – just gives up; the tail slithering and lighting up. This is scary and hilarious at the same time. And it sounds like God gargling.
Jaguar calls it ‘motorsport-inspired’. Accelerating from first gear it emits a growl that turns into a shriek. Upshift and there’s a sharp crack from the tailpipes. Downshift and it pops and crackles exuberantly. Few cars make me want to accelerate just to hear the exhaust sing the way this does. I blipped the throttle in the basement parking and the security alarms on ten cars went off. And all this is before you press the chequered flag on the centre console which then sounds like firecrackers detonating. Diwali has arrived a month early.
To cope with the extra power the suspension is suitably stiffened but it is not something that you notice over most roads. Sure it is a stiff and low car but that carbon fibre lip only touched once, and that was on a speed-breaker keenly located at the base of a down ramp. The ride is actually quite acceptable but you will never go slow enough to notice the ride. Step on it and the rocket-like propulsion will push you back into the sculpted performance seats, your passenger will shriek in pure terror, and you will pull a mile-wide smile. Over three days I never once drove it like a sane person would, the Jag just does not permit such liberties. It is brutal – a hooligan – and all the better for it.
On the race track I have no doubt that the Porsche will show it a clean pair of heels, and a nice pert rump. There is grip but the XKR-S is never as precise, never as tight or together. Step on it and the rear comes out way too easily, there’s such an over-abundance of power that power-oversteer is the first, last and only thing on the menu. You will miss half your apexes but missing apexes was never as much fun. The XKR-S is a shoulder-fired missile to the Porsche’s surgical knife. Both will knock you down, the Jag makes a mighty spectacle of it.