I have to admit, I don’t know any Asians who drive an XKR. So, after driving it across France and Switzerland and covering over a thousand miles, I couldn’t help but be a little bewildered as to why.
With a plethora of Mercedes, BMWs, Porches and Lexuses being driven by members of the Asian community, ‘paisa’ is certainly not a deciding factor. Whatever the reasons, I think the time has come to broaden our horizons.
The 2003 model XKR hasn’t changed much; its classic good looks remain, with only a few very subtle changes, such as a new sport badge. Under the skin however, it’s a different story – the power-packed engine is the most powerful ever made in series production by Jaguar, with a phenomenal 400 bhp. The new 4.2 litre V8 supercharged engine can reach 60 mph from a standing start in 5.2 seconds, using Jaguar’s ‘J-Gate’ six-speed automatic transmission. Power delivery is smooth across the rev range with plenty of mid range punch. While speed is electronically limited to 155 mph, the fun is in the breathtaking acceleration. Change into sports mode from the gearbox, floor it, and you’ll hear the most fantastic turbine sound from the V8 block.
Road handling is impeccable for such a big car, and the XKR makes light work of even the sharpest of bends; moreover, the ride quality is soft and supple without compromising handling.
This ‘pataakha’ panache continues with the interior; the cabin is stylish, comfortable and well specified. Heated leather recaros, coupled with electronic memory controls, ensure the best driving position possible and the sound system comes complete with a subwoofer and two-way system in the front, which will please the ICE fans amongst you. All speakers are supplied by Alpine, so music enthusiasts need not worry about replacing factory standard ‘no name’ jobs.
While the electronic convertible roof is operated at a touch of a button, my one gripe is the separate leather cover used to hide away the folded roof; surely a built-in cover would have been preferable? That aside, the XKR has less wind buffeting than many convertibles, and at speeds within the law, driving it is a serene experience.
Fuel consumption is probably not at the top of your list when buying a performance car. Nonetheless, you’ll be pleased to hear the XKR on test delivered around 25 mpg overall; although I did find it ran better at high speeds on Super Unleaded rather than ordinary Unleaded, which the handbook states as adequate.
The XKR’s safety systems are probably amongst the best available in the automotive world today. Research shows that most drivers don’t apply enough pressure on the brakes in emergency situations, which is why the XKR comes equipped with EBA – Emergency Brake Assist. When the system detects a rapid application of the brakes, it automatically applies more pressure to ensure the car stops in the shortest distance possible.
The best safety feature fitted, however, is the Adaptive Cruise Control, used for the first time. I must admit, using it had to be one of the eeriest driving experiences I have had. When the ACC is set, it uses microwave radar technology to detect slower vehicles ahead or crossing into your lane. The system then automatically adjusts the XKR’s speed to maintain a safe distance (preferred distance can be set by the driver) and when the traffic speeds up or the road ahead is clear, it automatically resumes the set speed – so whatever your preference, you’re sorted!
Overall, the Jaguar XKR is a grand tourer of the highest order – calling it a mere sports car would be akin to calling the Taj Mahal a tomb. It is simply one of the best driving experiences on offer. And if you treasure individuality in addition to a superb driving experience, I suggest you take a spin to your nearest dealer and see what makes the XKR so special.
By Nadeem Butt
Please login or register to add comments