Jaguar’s supercharged rear-wheel-drive XKR and its tamer XK8 companion earned some substantial re-engineering for 2003, including new 4.2-liter V-8 engines and six-speed-automatic transmissions. For 2005, the XKR gets a different front-end look that features a new mesh grille. Bumper bars are omitted; instead, hidden bumperettes are installed. Four exhaust pipes are visible at the XKR’s rear, which flaunts a larger spoiler than before.
Revamping the XK8 coupe and convertible and their high-performance XKR companions included “tweaks to the front of the car,” marketing vice president George Ayres said. The XKR’s wheels measure 18 and 20 inches in diameter. Sales began in June 2004.
All XK models have Dynamic Stability Control to prevent wheelspin. Standard in the XKR, Jaguar’s Computer Active Technology Suspension consists of a two-stage adaptive ride control system that automatically selects firm or soft damping in response to driving style. Jaguar claims the XKR coupe will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in a brisk 5.2 seconds.
Even though the overall projectile-shaped appearance of the XKR didn’t change, the 2003 models displayed new badging and reworked headlights. The XKR sports a fine-mesh grille instead of the XK8’s bar-type design. For 2005, the supercharged XKR gets a more dramatic front-end look, the side sills have been revised, and the rear bumpers are deeper. Gloss black window finish surrounds are installed.
The XKR adds a functional louvered hood, a rear spoiler and xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights. Brembo brakes are standard, and an “R” logo is prominent. Convertibles have a one-touch power soft-top and a glass rear window with a defogger.
These coupes and convertibles are theoretically capable of holding four occupants, but they’re really 2+2 models that are suitable for just two passengers. Backseat riders must be small in order to fit comfortably. Even the front occupants must employ a certain level of dexterity when climbing into and out of the low-slung XKR. Passengers enjoy lush leather and abundant wood trim.
XKR coupes and convertibles have heated front seats and a 320-watt Alpine audio system with a six-CD changer. Jaguar’s navigation system is standard. Optional Adaptive Cruise Control uses radar technology to sense vehicles ahead and, if necessary, select a more appropriate speed.
Under the Hood
Jaguar’s supercharged 4.2-liter V-8 produces 390 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 399 pounds-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. The six-speed-automatic transmission is produced by the German ZF organization.
Jaguar’s Adaptive Restraint Technology System includes side-impact airbags with head-protection extensions in the front-seat backrest cushions, and their deployment is based on input from sensors. Traction control and all-disc Brembo antilock brakes are standard. Emergency Brake Assist produces the shortest possible braking distance in urgent situations. Reverse Park Control emits a warning when the driver approaches an obstacle while backing up.
Vigorous supercharged performance is matched by the XKR’s refined nature, which features automatic-transmission shifts that deliver no unpleasant surprises. Even on moderate acceleration, a rich exhaust note adds to the fun.
Narrow two-lane roads are no challenge to the XKR, which stays properly in place without difficulty, but there is a tendency to slow down ahead of curves. Oftentimes it’s an illusion and the XKR behaves with greater expertise than expected. Despite surefooted handling, the ride is surprisingly easygoing over undulating and imperfect pavement.