2011 Jaguar XKR Convertible
Power: 510hp, 461 lb-ft.
Fuel Economy: 22 hwy/15city
Engine: 5.0L Supercharged V8
Price as tested: $101,150
Jaguar got its start at the turn of the 20th century building sidecars, a practice its long given up unless you count the company's latest XKR convertible. In the market for a new daily driver? You may want to skip this one. No, the brand’s captivatingly styled two-door ‘vert is no motorcycle tack-on, but it’s not your main car, either. Rather, it’s what you pick up for the stable when you’ve made it; your automotive mistress perhaps.
Of course, a review of this 510hp wildcat wouldn’t be complete without some sort of comparison to the Aston Martin DBS, so let’s just get it out of the way early. There’s no denial that the two luxury sport whips bear a striking resemblance to each other—especially in their long, vented hoods and oval grills—but, not to knock the DBS, this cat is able to hold its own on the road almost as well as the Aston at almost a third of the price. Sleek and curvaceous, the body lines of the coupe seemingly stretch for miles, due in part to the monstrous 5.0L supercharged V8 under its bonnet. Down the car’s profile, Jaguar’s signature front-fender air ducts have been incorporated to give it the brand’s definitive look and feel. You’re now no longer thinking of the DBS, so here stops the comparison.
With the fabric roof up, the XKR loses just a bit of the coupe’s sexiness and comes across as a touch awkward, but this is a car you buy to be seen in, playboy, albeit briefly. However, once you take the top off onlookers young and old will be challenged not to gawk and drool, even if you have the ugliest mug in your town. From every angle, the exposed XKR looks on the level of that more expensive option we said we wouldn’t mention again.
Dip inside and the real fun begins. Wrapped in supple leather and soft ultra-suede, the XKR’s cabin, like everything in Jaguar’s lineup, is rich and handsome. With a fit and finish like a bespoke suit, you might not want to touch at first, but when you do, you’ll be met with nothing but sensory delight. Once you drop the cautiousness and take to feel around—which may take a while—hit the push-button start and try not to grin ear to ear as you hear the engine rumble to life. While you’re coming to grips, the car’s rotary dial shift knob will rise out of the console, preparing you for the wild ride to come. Feeling daring? Twist right past ‘D’ and into ‘S’, which drops the Jag into sport-mode, a setting that tightens up travel and handling, prepping every aspect of the car for an aggressive, yet finely tuned driving experience. Get on the gas, and the blown V8’s brute force becomes instantly evident. Paired with the wheel-mounted paddle shifters (finally, a car that deserves them), you’ll feel like you’re on a trackless roller coaster—a ride you won’t want to end.
Unfortunately it will end. At full throttle, you can almost watch the XKR’s digital fuel gauge experience major shrinkage, but you should have known that going in. Practical? Not in the least. But that’s what’ll make you love the XKR convertible in a much different manner than your daily beater. Just don’t forget to pamper your original lady with a vacuum and oil change once in a while. She’s been good to you.