What is it?
The Jaguar XKR Convertible. Hardly a new car – this generation dates back to 2006 – but an interesting one to reassess as the similarly powered and priced Jaguar F-type V8 S nears sale.
At the XKR’s heart is a supercharged 5-litre V8 petrol engine, producing 503bhp and 461lb ft. It’s familiar from other Jaguars as well as the least sensible Range Rovers. It’s 15bhp healthier than the motor in the F-type, but at 1800kg, the XKR is very much a luxurious GT compared to the more lithe 1665kg sports car.
An active limited-slip differential helps make best use of all the XKR’s power, though the rear wheels are driven via a six-speed ZF automatic, rather than the eight-speed transmission seen in more recent Jaguar Land Rover products (including the F-type).
What’s it like to drive?
Exposure to the more rabid Jaguar XKR-S means its base car suddenly feels less exuberant and a bit soft. The XKR is still bonkers-fast, though, the supercharged engine so effortless and its pace so urgent. The gearbox dial needs turning into S mode for the transmission to keep up with the V8’s relentless urge, while pressing the chequered-flag button that selects the drivetrain’s dynamic mode ensures its full repertoire of gargles and crackles are at full volume. Despite the XKR’s age, its roof-down operatics are pretty much unmatched by anything below £100,000.
It may have soft edges, but the XKR is still a 500bhp-plus rear-driver willing to relinquish traction on demand, particularly on less than warm roads. Steering that is simply too light makes detailed reading of grip levels hard, but at its core the XKR is a well-balanced car that shuns hyper responses for cosseting GT ability. Factor in its 2+2 seating, and you have an elegant, purposeful convertible that won’t be totally usurped by its upstart young brother.
How does it compare?
The 488bhp Jaguar F-type V8 S is £5000 cheaper, and thanks to its lower (though hardly skinny) kerb weight, it’s a smidge faster, a 4.2sec 0-60mph time and electronically limited 186mph top speed comparing to the XKR’s respective 4.6sec and (also limited) 155mph. It doesn’t have its sibling’s back seats, of course, while our first F-type ride impressions hint at a much sportier, driver-focused experience.
Otherwise, the XKR Convertible sits somewhere between the 394bhp, £92,127 Porsche 911 Carrera S PDK Cabriolet and 443bhp, £78,570 BMW 650i M Sport Convertible in ethos.
Anything else I need to know?
The loopier XKR-S Convertible costs a considerable £18,500 more, but brings with it an extra 39bhp and 31mph as well as stiffer suspension and a reprogrammed differential. It’s a bit less subtly styled, too…