2010 Jaguar XKR Convertible Review

2010 Jaguar XKR Convertible Review

Think of it as a Tommy gun swathed in leather finery. I’m not sure how else to describe a vehicle of such notable refinement and distinction that throws it all away in favour of a Thompson machine-gun auditory response to a stab at the throttle – but that’s exactly what this ferocious feline does.

The XKR is the high-performance version of Jaguar’s XK series, a descendent of the prestigious E-Type of yesteryear.

The XKR is the high-performance version of Jaguar’s XK series.

2010 brings more XKR roar
510 horsepower propelling what is effectively a 2-seat roadster. Yes, you read that correctly. The 2010 XKR takes Jaguar hostility to a new level with a 5.0-litre supercharged, direct injection DOHC V8 engine that also produces 461 pound-feet of torque at a paltry 2,500 rpm.

This prodigious powerplant supplies a power increase of 23% over its supercharged XKR predecessor. Jaguar claims that it can sprint the cat from naught to 100km/h in just 4.8 seconds – and trust me, I have no quarrel with that. Too bad that it drinks premium at a frightful rate doing so.

The supercharged punch hits the rear wheels after administration by a sophisticated 6-speed automatic transmission capable of shifting secretly or with lightning-like rapidity. A pair of steering wheel paddles allows – no encourages – plenty of driver input.

Performance contouring can be applied through Jaguar’s Drive Control program, which interacts with the onboard DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) program along with the engine and transmission management systems to alter the characteristics of engine mapping, gear shifts, and brake interventions. One of the selectable modes is that of Dynamic, which creates a more responsive driving experience.

But the new XKR isn’t simply about bigger output and bigger performance numbers; there’s some minor restyling to mention and plenty of exotica to digest.

Front end tweaked
About the only really noteworthy exterior revision for 2010 applies to the XKR’s nose, where a narrow vertical slit at each corner of the front fascia feeds air to the car’s massive front brakes. The little gills, as I see them, add a slight shark-like caricature to the Jag’s leading edge.

The 2010 XKR takes Jaguar hostility to a new level with a 5.0-litre supercharged.


The cabin holds a surprise all its own. Here the conventional shift lever has been replaced with a large metal rotary dial that rises from its flush positioning when the ignition is activated. This is a very cool touch first seen on the XF last year.

This is a first class cabin, equipped with tremendously supportive front seats.

I’ve got to admit being slightly taken with gizmos such as a shift dial that rises and falls with the ignition. That said, this isn’t a device that I’d want to spill my coffee over (read expense). Rather than articulate the hazards of a cuppa joe in my clumsy grasp, let’s slide into the XKR cockpit for a spin.

Love that Jag leather
First of all, no one does stitched leather as well as Jaguar; it makes climbing into the cat a treat for the senses. This is a first class cabin, equipped with tremendously supportive front seats. As for the humps that mimic rear seats, they’re best left to leg-less creatures unless those in front are feeling particular benevolent when it comes to giving away their legroom.

From a driver’s perspective, the XKR fits like a finely tailored suite. I found my chosen driving position to be exceptionally functional and comfortable.

The controls that one needs most often can be found integrated into the steering wheel for ease of use however many other settings are interfaced through the 7-inch touch screen that also doubles as a navigation screen.

I’m not a fan of touch screen interfaces. I’d rather see old fashion switch gear but that’s more a personal preference. Of course, such concern doesn’t take away from the real pleasure of the XKR, which commences with a button push of the illuminated ignition button.

Firing up the Tommy gun
Once the soft triple-layer convertible roof stows itself under a solid tonneau cover in only 18-seconds, the sky’s the limit, and in more ways than one.

When the cat awakens, it does so with a threatening growl that signifies future prospects. Despite the snarly pronouncement, the XKR exhibits tremendous tenderness when driven passively. It’s a fairly quiet, docile operator that supplies an absorbent ride to complement its outstanding operational refinement.

The controls that one needs most often can be found integrated into the steering wheel.


Still, it’s quite clear to the driver that percolating beneath the aluminum skin is something really quite sinister, something with a light trigger pull that’s begging to be fired.

Pulling out the Tommy
Dipping into the throttle produces a staccato exhaust blast that erupts into a crackling “Tommy gun” when the right foot sinks and the supercharged mill rises-up in rapid search of a redline. For performance buffs, this unearthly bedlam is pure exhilaration, especially when the XKR’s roof is retracted and every nuance of the rapid fire cacophony can be appreciated.

Okay, so that may sound like a bit of artistic licence, and it could be. Simply put though, the XKR delivers a stunning exhaust note that alone almost justifies its big ask of $114,000. Of course, for that kind of money the XKR better be able to walk the talk.

Simply put though, the XKR delivers a stunning exhaust note that alone almost justifies its big ask of $114,000.

Outrageous performance combined with athletic handling
And walk the talk it does, quite mercilessly I might add. The ability of this car to accelerate from any speed is downright outrageous, if not alarming; there simply isn’t any power-deficit scenario imaginable.

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in taming the power is preventing the massive Dunlop 285/30ZR20 rear rubber from breaking free and initiating censorship imposed by the Jag’s hyperactive traction control system.

Despite the electronically applied limitations, which for the most part can be deactivated, the XKR is a tremendously exciting yet totally pleasurable vehicle to drive. It harbors unearthly power and outstanding handling qualities beneath a veneer of genteel British diplomacy.


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