Billed as Jaguar's "most responsive, powerful, agile, and driver-focused production car," the XKR-S is a serious performance machine. It builds on the "normal" XKR by adding more power, a revised and stiffened suspension and special styling touches inside and out.
For the latest model year, Jaguar has created a extra-ferocious, track-focused GT version of the XKR-S that boasts a number of aerodynamic, suspension and traction control upgrades.
The heart of the XKR-S, which is also available in drop-top XKR-S Convertible form. is its supercharged 5.0-liter V8. This twin-cam, direct injected unit makes 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque, levels that surpass even those of Jaguar's XJ220 supercar from the early 1990s. Remapping the engine's fueling characteristics and increasing exhaust gas flow through the use of an active exhaust system helped liberate the extra ponies from the engine, which makes 510 horsepower in the XKR.
The motor hooks up to a quick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission that offers up smooth, rev-matched downshifts and helps the car return 15/22 mpg, which is just good enough to avoid the gas-guzzler tax. Jaguar quotes a zero-to-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds, though that figure is likely conservative by at least half a second, while top speed is electronically limited to 186 mph.
Helping to ensure that handling is up to the brutal straight-line quickness is a hardened suspension that features reworked aluminum front suspension knuckles, a revised rear geometry and stiffer springs and dampers. Jaguar also added lightweight forged alloy wheels, recalibrated the steering effort to minimize any response delays and hooked up a torque-vectoring rear differential to produce more agile and connected driving dynamics.
Realizing that the performance equation wouldn't be complete without a potent braking system, Jaguar bestowed the XKR-S with cast iron and part aluminum monobloc calipers along with internally ventilated brake discs (measuring 380mm at the front and 376mm at the rear) that provide repeated, fade-free stopping power.
Signaling the sporting intentions of this fast cat to the world is a unique front end with twin nacelles, side intakes and a carbon-fiber splitter. Extended side sills emphasize the low ride height, while around back there's a carbon fiber diffuser and a rear wing with carbon-fib centre section. Overall, the look is aggressive while still maintaining the Aston Martin-like elegance of the normal XK.
Inside, the cabin benefits from seriously bolstered front seats that hold occupants firmly in place during spirited maneuvers, which are affected by the use of a unique leather-wrapped, multi-function steering wheel. Other unique touches include ebony soft-feel paint for the switches and gloss black finish to the centre console, new carbon leather accents covering the seats and a special Dark Linear Aluminum finish is available as an alternative to the traditional Jaguar wood trim.
Befitting the car's substantial price tag, a range of luxury features such as heated seats, a touch-screen navigation system and premium stereo are fitted as standard.
Building on the already-fierce XKR-S, the GT was developed by Jaguar's in-house ETO specialty vehicle group. It features the same powertrain as the XKR-S but can sprint from zero-to-60 mpg in a slightly quicker 3.9 seconds thanks to a raft of aerodynamics and traction control revisions.
The exterior is equipped with a wraparound carbon fiber front air splitter to better direct airflow around the coupe. Carbon fiber dive planes and wheel arch extensions as well as an aluminum front under tray further Jaguar's goal of improving aerodynamics. At the rear, a carbon fiber diffuser ensures that air exits the vehicle in an orderly fashion. On the deck lid, a huge carbon fiber rear wing has been fitted to increase downforce. Clearly, this cat was meant for closed courses.
Underneath, the XKR-S GT includes all-new front and rear suspension arms, uprights, wheel bearings, bushings and a revised rear subframe. The automaker's active damping system has been revised with new height-adjustable dampers and spring rates have been stiffed 68 percent (front) and 25 percent (rear) over the XKR-S. Up front, the XKR-S GT sees its track widened by two inches and its steering rack has been changed for a faster ratio and retuned feel for what Jaguar says is a crisper response.
Black 20-inch alloy wheels are fitted as standard and they're wrapped in Pirelli Corsa tires.
To make the most of the chassis revisions, Jaguar has modified its Adaptive Dynamics control, which tailors drive-by wire, suspension, transmission and traction/stability control functions. Bringing things to a halt are carbon ceramic brakes, marking the first time this setup has been used in a production Jaguar.
Only available in Polaris White with black racing stripes, the XKR-S GT features a Jaguar R-S GT script applique on its hood. Inside, the car has been fitted with a black interior with red accents and 16-way performance seats covered in leather and suede.
Just 30 XKR-S GTs are headed to North American buyers - 25 are bound for the U.S. and 5 have been earmarked for Canada
Safety features such as dual front, side and side-curtain airbags come standard, as do traction and stability control systems.
Those looking at the XKR-S for its combination of performance, luxury and styling might also consider the Porsche 911 Turbo, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage and the Maserati GranTurismo S.