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Not too long ago I got behind the wheel of a Jaguar XF, which proved to be a very accomplished car in terms of design, build, drivability and, most importantly, technology. The XF was a real triumph for Jaguar, allowing the company to shake off the dry and staid image that many had associated with it. Put simply, the XF is as good a luxury saloon as you're likely to find, and Jaguar should be very proud of that fact. Now I've got an XKR sitting in the car park, which currently sits at the top of Jaguar's range and promises to provide all the thrills of a sports car coupled with the luxury and comfort of an executive saloon.
The XKR definitely looks the part. It's all sleek, smooth lines that hark back to the iconic E-Type and make the car look like it's moving, even when it's not. Many who saw the XKR parked up remarked that it looked like an Aston Martin - now I'm not sure if Jaguar would see that as a compliment, but I can't help but feel that it's an indication of success as far as design goes.
Things are no less impressive inside the XKR, and I have to say that Jaguar is up there with the best when it comes to cabin design. The XF had a beautiful cabin, but the XKR takes things up a notch with a liberal sprinkling of aluminium and glossy black panelling. You also get the same moody blue cabin lighting as seen in the XF, as well as the solid metal dial for gear selection - it really is a lovely place to sit.
And then there's the performance, which is, to put it mildly, astounding! Under that long, sleek bonnet is a supercharged 5.0L V8 engine that pumps out 500bhp and 460lb/ft of torque, and believe me when I say that it makes this car unbelievably rapid. Now I regularly drive fast cars, but the surge of power that the XKR delivers when you put your foot down is simply epic. The sound it makes will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention, and in case you're worried, there's no hint of supercharger whine either.
The chassis isn't too shabby either, and the XKR is surprisingly agile for such a large and relatively heavy car. To be fair, this is very much a grand tourer (GT) rather than an out and out sports car, but if you fancy throwing it around your favourite roads on a Sunday morning, you won't be disappointed. Even considering the automatic gearbox, I defy any petrolhead not to step out of an XKR with a smile on their face.
Of course I could spend the next few pages talking about the brutal power and dynamic ability of the XKR, but here at TR it's the technology that counts, so let's see what Jaguar has packed into its powerhouse coupe…