During the course of a usual test drive of an automobile—be it for a review or an actual purchase—one tends to seek answers to a list of questions.
Is it a cool car? Does it ride well? Is there enough space? Will it burn a hole in my pocket every time I hit the gas station or the service centre...etc etc.
But then, there are cars that ask questions of you instead. Are you good enough to handle me? The Jaguar XKR—coupe or convertible—is one such car.
Widely considered to be one of the more compelling Jaguars today, a title that will stick till a certain F type comes about in a couple of months, the XKR is simply a Jag served sunny side up. Buckle your seat-belts, please.
Think of a sportscar and the immediate image would that be of a low slung, mean, aggressive animal ready to pounce. The XKR is none of this, which is perhaps why it works.
The long swooping bonnet that starts with the trademark Jaguar oval grille covers acres of space before it gets to the windshield, making it look more like a saloon than a race car.
A grand tourer is what they call it apparently. Very rare it is to find a car that has received so much attention to detail on the exterior.
Everything is intentional and nothing is by chance. The air vents for example are placed right at the bonnet to break the monotony and the legend ‘supercharged’ embossed on it gives away what sits inside..intentionally.
So too the thin chrome strip at the back: thin, because the leaping jaguar mascot needed to be highlighted. The car does not hug the road like a Porshce 911 nor does it sit all too uptight like the other Jaguars.
As a middle of the road option, the stance is just right — and guarantees a thousand stares.
The understated appeal of the car is carried forward inside the cabin as well. It is refreshing to see a company refrain from going over the top, sticking to getting the basics right instead.
The leather seats at the front are among the most comfortable places to ever host your derrière. The dashboard is sparse in comparison to some of the other cars and not one button is an extra.
That is also thanks to the touch screen multimedia system, which also takes care of sundry options like air condition controls.
The only real grouse about the cabin and with the car overall as such are the rear seats. They can at best be used by toddlers, and even they might not feel to happy.
Legroom is compromised, and the sloping roof ensures little headroom as well. Why have them at all?
At the heart of the car is a 5-litre V8 supercharged petrol engine that belts out 510 horsepower and 625 Nm of torque.
To put things in perspective these numbers are higher than even most Porsches on the road today. So what? Standstill to 100 kph at under 5 seconds and a top speed well past 250 kph — had it not been electronically limited.
Now go find a driver who is brave enough, and a road that is straight enough to really push the machine to perform up to its potential.
Mated to a 6-speed sequential Jaguar automatic transmission, there is never a feeling of lack of power or grunt at whatever speeds. This in fact is one of its strengths.
While other supercars are forever fidgety and raring to take off, the XKR does so only if you really press it hard. For the rest, it is just as happy with a leisurely cruise around the city without putting the driver on the edge.
The suspension set up is also done accordingly to give a pliant ride without thudding or crashing into potholes. This does compromise handling a little bit on heavy cornering, but not by much.
Watch out for some of the giant speed breakers though. With a ground clearance of 100mm, you don’t want to damage the belly of the car!