I think it was about three seconds after my head thumped into the roof bolster that I remembered one of the guys from CAR magazine advising me: “Take it easy in the wet, or it’ll bite you on the bum.” Roughly translated, this means that the gas pedal aboard the Jaguar XKR-S delivers a fairly clear message to the rear wheels, that the car is equipped with a traction control system allowing you a split second of panic before kicking in to restore order, and that even a slightly moist road is a whole new ball game. In the event, my lesson ended with no more damage than a mild headache, doing nothing to cool my ardour.
Jaguar’s most powerful production car to date, resplendent in French Racing Blue and styled in a manner guaranteed to make petrolheads swoon, is one of the most exhilarating – and scariest – cars we’ve driven, bar none. Although it’s equipped with all manner of sophisticated driver aids, it eschews the nanny-like coddling of all too many performance cars in favour of the AC Cobra approach: that is, lay down the power and get the hell out of there, and if that means smoking rubber and shaking your tail, then so be it.
Here’s the thing: this car is perfectly at home in non-hooligan mode. The seats are comfortable, the power delivery is as smooth as you want it and the ride is fi rm yet surprisingly forgiving of dodgy road surfaces. On leaving a supermarket parking lot one evening (yes, the routines of domestic life occasionally intrude on our fun), I saw a man point out the XKR-S to his companion, then make a U-turn with the obvious intention of following me.
Minutes later, as I parked the car outside my home, he drew up alongside and announced that it was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. How much did it cost? About one-point-seven mil, I replied. “A bargain!,” he responded. (It’s all relative, I suppose.)
We’re told the Jag’s supercharged 5-litre V8 – a deliciously responsive powerplant producing 405 kW at 6 000 r/min – will propel it from standstill to 100 km/h in a hair over 4,2 seconds and take it to a top speed of 300 km/h. That sounds just about enough. – AD
Wallpapers > New on the block (October 2012 issue)