This year, the cars that managed to make a lasting impression on me, usually wore a Jaguar badge. There was the XJL Super Sport which showed me that even a big luxury sedan can be fun to drive. And then there was the XKR convertible, which I got to keep for ten-days and drove it all the way from Mississauga to Quebec City and back. A trip that involved some truly amazing roads and this 510-hp convertible showed that it is one of the best grand touring cars on sale today.
There is one that is even better though, the 2012 Jaguar XKR-S coupe. It is a heavily revised version of the 2011 XKR, and it now sports a new, much more aggressive body, has the best seats I have ever come across in any car, and the 5.0-liter, super charged V8 is now tuned to produce 550-hp and 502-lb/ft of torque.
Power is sent to only the rear wheels through a limited slip differential via a six-speed automatic gearbox. As good as this automatic gearbox is, I do wish it had a dual-clutch gearbox to better utilize all the power. This car is quick (0-100 km/h in just 4.2 seconds, top speed is electronically limited to 300 km/h), but you get the feeling that with a quicker gearbox, it would be quicker still.
It corners very well, but it would be even faster through tighter corners if only the traction control and stability control devices don’t intervene as much, but you have to be either very brave or very talented to turn the systems off and control all that power yourself. Thanks to its stiff chassis and bags of torque on tap, this car is a bit tail happy, but I enjoy that.
Not the most perfect sports car then, but what this car is best at is covering long distances in comfort. You’ll have all the gadgets you’d want for your trip, and if you ever get bored listening to your CD’s, just punch the throttle, the noise this car makes on its own is better than any CD I own.
All this greatness doesn’t come cheap however. The XKR-S starts at $139,000. That is a lot, but then you end up with a car that is not only more powerful than an Aston Martin DBS, but also cost you less than half as much. Plus the Jag is more practical. So in a way, you can say it’s a bargain.
So, if I could choose just one car to spend every single day of 2012 with, it would be the XKR-S. It might not be ideal for our winters (no powerful GT is), but for when the sun is shining and the roads are dry and empty, it will satisfy like few others can.
Jaguar XKR-S, you’re my Car of the Year.