2007 Jaguar XKR Coupe Review
SEE ALSO: Compare Jaguar Models;Jaguar Buyers Guide
DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS
2007 Jaguar XKR Coupe
What is a "grand touring" car? The term, and especially its "GT" abbreviation, has been seriously misused over the past 40 years, but in essence means a car that blends the long-distance travel ability of a luxury car with the performance potential of a sports car. A grand touring car will be larger and heavier than a pure sports car, but will offer superior accommodation for both passengers and luggage. Its abilities are more suited to high-speed, long-distance travel on the road than competition, but a grand touring car is not slow. A fine example is the new Jaguar XK, particularly in high-performance XKR form.
Like the regular XK upon which it is based, the second-generation XKR is almost completely new. Gone are XK8 underpinnings that, although highly modified, dated back to the XJR of the 1970s. The replacement is a high-tech riveted and bonded aluminum monocoque structure similar to that of the XJ sedan. It's lighter and stiffer than the old structure, for improvements in ride comfort, handling, performance, and efficiency. As before, the XK and XKR are offered in coupe and convertible form.
Power is still from Jaguar's AJ-V8, in 4.2-liter form. Internal modifications allow it to produce slightly more power in naturally-aspirated XK form - 300 hp to 294 - and significantly more in supercharged and intercooled XKR trim, where the previous 400 horses are eclipsed by the new 420-hp rating. There are significant refinements to the six-speed automatic transmission as well, enabling lightning-fast manual shifting.
Externally, Jaguar's newest sports offerings have been developed in an evolutionary way, with more angular, assertive styling that is still recognizably Jaguar. A longer wheelbase also allows more interior space in both coupes and convertibles, and the coupe now has a hatchback opening at the rear to allow easy luggage access. Interior appointments are first-class and high-tech.
I've just finished a pleasant and impressive week with a new XKR coupe. Not only is it a beautifully-styled machine capable of sustained high speed - a largely theoretical consideration in this country - it's completely at home in everyday use. In "D", it idles comfortably through traffic without complaint. But its virtues are more apparent on the open road, and especially in manual-shift mode. If quick acceleration is ever needed, it's immediately available, and grip is tremendous. The XKR is quiet, comfortable, and extremely capable whether on a twisting, narrow back road or on the open highway. That refinement, which really defines the XK's grand touring nature, has another benefit - driver relaxation. Some very fast sports cars can be tiring once the adrenaline and endorphins wear off. Not the XKR. A long drive just means more pleasure.
APPEARANCE: Elegant and understated in the finest British manner, the XK is more modern in design than the old model. While traditional Jaguar XK styling cues like the small oval grille, power-bulge hood, and muscular rear fender line - which evoke the ancestral E-Type of the 1960s - are still prominent, overhangs are shorter and angular character lines on the fenders and hood give the new XK a more masculine look. Jaguar's "R" supercharged performance models have used mesh grilles for differentiation from the naturally-aspirated versions, and such is the case with the XKR. It can readily be told from the XK at the front by its flat front fascia with mesh inserts for the upper and lower air intakes and faux brake scoops, and small vents in the hood with discreet "supercharged" lettering. From the side, there are aluminum vents and larger wheels and tires, and in the rear, a larger ducktail rear spoiler and quad exhausts.
COMFORT: Grand touring means comfort and luxury in addition to performance, and the XKR will not disappoint. High-quality leather abounds, and trim choices are burled wood or patterned aluminum veneer for a more high-tech look. The XKR's front seats have appropriately more bolstering than those of the XK, and are a fine place to spend the day. Many parameters of power-adjustability for both seats and the steering wheel allow a perfect driving position for all drivers. There is more head and leg room, and three-position memory for both seats. Seat heating control, like audio, navigation, and vehicle information system controls, is done through a logically-designed touch screen at the top of the center stack, while basic climate controls are separate. Recourse to a thick manual is not necessary to operate any of the electronic systems, and the CD changer plays MP3 CDs as well as regular ones. An electronic transponder fob and pushbutton are used to start and stop the engine. The venerable Jaguar "J-gate" shift pattern has been supplanted by an L gate with D and S (sport) shift modes, with paddles behind the steering wheel used in either for manual shifting. All XK and XKR models are of "2+2" configuration, which means two adults and two small children in the rear seat. And "small" means small - anyone as tall as five feet will be severely unhappy. Kids who do fit, though, will be ecstatic, or the space can be used for extra luggage. But there's plenty of room under the coupe's rear hatch (for which is will probably get classified as a "subcompact hatchback" by bureaucrats...), and it's easily accessible.
SAFETY: The 2007 Jaguar XKR protects its passengers with structural strength, front and front side airbags, large antilock vented disc brakes, and a multi-mode dynamic stability-control system.
RIDE AND HANDLING: Thanks to its light and rigid aluminum chassis structure, the 2007 XKR feels solid on the road, and is appropriately quiet and refined. That structure also benefits the big cat's ride and handling, providing sturdy attachment points for its fully-independent suspension. Befitting its sports specification, the XKR's springs are stiffer than the XK's, but the Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS) active damping system varies the shock damping to allow for both good ride comfort - even on poor road surfaces and even with the ultra low-profile 255/25 ZR20 front, 285/30 ZR20 rear tires - and minimal body roll in fast cornering. Grip is tremendous, a given with with the huge contact patches, and steering and brake effort is moderate. At just over 3800 pounds, the new XKR coupe is lighter than the old model, but it's still a large, heavy car that responds best to a smooth driving. Long-distance, high-speed touring? That's what "grand touring" is all about, and that is the XKR's element.
PERFORMANCE: In both the XK and XKR, Jaguar's 4.2-liter, twin-cam, 32-valve V8 benefits from variable cam phasing and fuel injection enhancements. The XKR then gets another 120 horsepower from an Eaton Roots supercharger and intercooler. With 420 (at 6000 rpm) horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque (at 4000 rpm), and a broad, flat torque curve, immense power is available with a touch of the right foot. The engine is quiet and refined in light-throttle operation, with a healthy roar when pushed. The six-speed ZF automatic, now with the Jaguar Sequential Shift system, is a gem. It helps deliver power smoothly and efficiently, whether automatically or under manual control via the shift paddles. It even revs the engine a bit when downshifting for smoother, quicker shifts in manual mode, and suits the car's high-tech nature perfectly. Acceleration, with a 0-60 time of less than five seconds, is never a problem, nor is stopping thanks to extra-large vented antilock discs all around.
CONCLUSIONS: Jaguar has made significant improvements to its XKR.
2007 Jaguar XKR Coupe
Base Price $ 85,835 Price As Tested $ 88,700 Engine Type supercharged and intercooled dual overhead cam 32-valve aluminum alloy V8 Engine Size 4.2 liters / 256 cu. in. Horsepower 420 @ 6000 rpm Torque (lb-ft) 413 @ 4000 rpm Transmission 6-speed automatic with manual-shift mode Wheelbase / Length 108.3 in. / 188.6 in. Curb Weight 3814 lbs. Pounds Per Horsepower 9.1 Fuel Capacity 18.8 gal. Fuel Requirement 91 octane unleaded premium gasoline Tires f: 255/35 ZR20, r: 285/30 ZR20 Dunlop Sport Maxx Brakes, front/rear vented disc / vented disc, ABS standard Suspension, front/rear independent double wishbone / independent multi-link with halfshafts acting as upper suspension links eCATS electronically-controlled active damping control Drivetrain front engine, rear-wheel drive PERFORMANCE EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 17 / 25 / 19 0 to 60 mph 4.9 sec OPTIONS AND CHARGES Adaptive cruise control $ 2200 Destination charge $ 665