2015 Jaguar XKR-S

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.

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.

Occupant Safety
Safety features such as dual front, side and side-curtain airbags come standard, as do traction and stability control systems.

Key Competitors
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.