Road Test: 2010 Jaguar XKR Black
David Booth's road test on the 2010 Jaguar XKR Black
David Booth, National Post. Friday, Aug.13, 2010
Somewhere between the ground-breaking E-Type and the XJ-S, Jaguar's sports cars lost their way. What was once cutting edge became retro; what had been hard-edged became soft around the middle; what had been pure sports cars became grand tourers or boulevardiers. Jaguars became old men's cars; they may have looked the part, but they couldn't deliver the (performance car) goods.
I think that misconception should end. Oh, sure, the latest XKR is all swaddled in sumptuous leather. And, if you're looking hard for excuses to relegate the big coupe to GT status, the lack of a slick, double-clutch transmission does seem like an omission. But, seriously, folks, exactly when did 510 horsepower of supercharged V8 become soft or lackadaisical?
In fact, there's precious little soft about the Jag coupe in its ultimate form -- the new XKR Black. The suspension is all but Corvette taut, the steering is as precise as all but the most seriously massaged rear-drive 911s and the throttle response is immediate, even if all that torque does get transmitted through a torque converter. Jaguar even dispensed with the XKR's speed governor, meaning the Black tops out at a supercar-like 280 klicks rather than a pedestrian 240 kilometres an hour.
It even looks evil, all monochromatic paint and blacked-out 20-inch Kalimnos alloy wheels, Jaguar for the first time in recent memory adding a rear lip spoiler and a deep front spoiler. Back it up with manhole cover-sized brakes and some huge four-piston calipers painted bright cherry red and this is one XK that stands out, even in a crowd of German and Italian exotica.
Yes, the XKR could use some form of manumatic transmission. Its new-found attitude might also be better served with some increased side bolstering. But anyone thinking that the Black is soft is best advised not to try to follow one down a tight, sinuous road. It can get embarrassing when the old guys hand you your butt.