When I reviewed the Jaguar XF I was blown away by the 440W Bowers and Wilkins hi-fi system, and I honestly didn’t think that anything would top it. However, this XKR comes equipped with the top of the range 525W Bowers and Wilkins setup and it sounds staggeringly good. I’m not going to categorically state that it’s better than the system in the XF, because I’d need to do some back to back listening to come to a definitive conclusion, but there’s no doubt that if you’re a bit of an audiophile, you’ll love spending time in the XKR.
Of course any in-car sound system is compromised by the car itself – acoustics will be far from ideal, there’s engine noise, road noise and since you’re not sitting in the centre, creating a convincing stereo envelope is never easy. That said, Bowers and Wilkins has worked wonders with the systems that grace the latest Jaguars, creating a convincing soundstage, especially when the Dolby Pro Logic II processing is active.
Pretty much any style of music sounds superb in this car, whether it’s the choral power of Beethoven’s 9th, the acoustic delicacy of Jose Gonzalez or the expert riffs of Clapton. And boy can this system go loud, ear bleedingly loud in fact, but no matter how high you push the volume, there’s no hint of distortion – despite the fact the you’ll feel as if the bass is shaking the whole car, it’s somehow never overpowering.
There’s no shortage of source options on offer. Obviously you’ve got standard analogue radio, but you also get DAB thrown in – well, not exactly thrown in, DAB is a £342.55 option. There’s also a dash mounted, six disc CD changer for your uncompressed music listening, while hiding in the centre console you’ll find an iPod connection and a USB port.
As with the XF, iPod control is pretty good, and if you create a decent array of playlists, you can avoid too much navigation anyway. Of course if you want to avoid the “joys” of using iTunes every time you want to add music to your library, a high capacity USB key is probably the best option. The system will recognise basic folder structure, so you can, in essence create playlists on a USB stick just by creating multiple folders.
Codec support is limited to WMA and MP3, which isn’t really an issue – personally I’ve encoded my entire library at 320mbps MP3 since it’s the best quality option that will play on absolutely every device. Of course you can also playback AAC via an iPod, since it’s the iPod that’s doing the decoding.