Jaguar XKR coupe (2006 – ) review
Read the Jaguar XKR coupe (2006 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
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Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, but few will argue with the grace of the Jaguar XKR. This is a coupe that epitomises what modern Jaguar is about. It lacks the exotic presence of an Aston Martin V8 Vantage, but it has an understated elegance. That said, there’s plenty enough aggression. The range-topping XKR is distinct from lesser versions by way of bonnet vents, quad tailpipes and huge alloy wheels. Choose the Black Pack for added visual drama.
The interior of teh Jaguar XKR coupe is luscious. It’s everything you’d expect a top-end Jaguar to be, with leather surfaces and beautifully weighted controls and dials. Even the rotary switches on the steering wheel feel high quality. The rotary gear selector that rises from the centre console on start-up is a nice piece of theatre, too. However, the cabin doesn’t have the modern feel of the BMW M6, and it can actually feel a little cramped in there for taller adults – though most will find the driving position comfortable.
Technically teh Jaguar XKR is a four-seat coupe, though its back seats offer so little headroom or legroom that they’re effectively rear parcel shelves. The boot is quoted at 330 litres – about the same as a family hatchback – but it’s shallow because of the coupe’s low shape. The trade-off is a huge hatchback opening that makes dropping things in very easy, including a set of golf clubs. Still, the BMW M6 has a 450 litre boot and useable back seats. This is not a Jaguar to buy with practicality in mind.
Ride and handling
While the Jaguar XKR is undoubtedly a driver-focussed coupe, it definitely sacrifices some sharpness for comfort. It’s a car made in the mould of the Mercedes-Benz SL 500 in that respect, but it’s still a wonderfully balanced car to drive. The steering is light around town but firms up with speed, and the rear-wheel drive chassis gives a real sense of the car being pushed from the back. A Sport mode firms up the suspension and steering, and makes the automatic gearbox shift later, sharpening up the drive – but it’s never less than comfy.
The performance of the 5-litre supercharged engine is absolutely astonishing, and unlike anything in its price range. It has mountains of pulling power, giving way to 510bhp at 6,000rpm. It’s an overused word, but the XKR’s performance feels relentless. A 4.8-second 0-62mph time doesn’t lie. Put the adaptive chassis into Sport mode and the gearbox will hold onto a gear right to the rev limiter. Our only issue is that the throttle becomes very sensitive, making it difficult to drive smoothly.
The Jaguar XKR won’t attract the sort of social stigma as a big SUV, but it’s every inch the gas-guzzler. Its 23mpg official average economy is optimistic – especially if you’re going to exploit the performance – and 292g/km of CO2 put it well into the top car tax bracket. Add big servicing bills and a top insurance grouping (50), and it’s clear you have to be committed to live with the XKR.
Build quality is usually top rate, and many of the XKR’s electrical bits (including its excellent touch-screen satellite navigation) are shared across Land Rover cars. They’re largely trouble-free. If anything does go wrong, electrically or mechanically, you can expect flawless service from Jaguar.
The Jaguar XKR hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP – as is the norm with cars as expensive as this. All the electronic safety aids you could expect are present, including anti-lock brakes, electronic stability programme and front, side and curtain airbags.
You pay a high price for the Jaguar XKR, but will want for nothing on the equipment front. It’s uniquely placed in that it undercuts the BMW M6 and Mercedes-Benz SL 63 AMG significantly, yet has similar power and prestige. For the money, the XKR gets big alloy wheels, full leather upholstery, touch-screen sat-nav, parking sensors – even metallic paint. A luxury car with a luxury car equipment list.
The allure of the Jaguar badge is so strong precisely because of cars like this. On one hand the XKR is a very docile, luxury cruiser, yet on the other a sharp and lightning quick sports car. It’s not cheap, but in the context of its peers it’s a great value prestige coupe.