Jaguar XKR Driven

Jaguar XKR 'Art Car' (Pictures: Alex Nichols)

Some cars propel you to sixty miles an hour like a scolded cat and then seem to run out of puff. The Jaguar XKR is not one of those, although if taken by the scruff of the neck it will leap off the line like the proverbial fast feline with hot paws. Mostly though it takes all that time and subsequent distance to really get going.

The Jaguar XKR uses the brilliant and new at the time in-house V8 motor with a supercharger bolted on top for extra grunt. This may sound like a combination akin to American Muscle cars of the 70’s, but in the XKR the experience is 100% Jaguar. Accelerate hard and it feels like a conductor purposefully lifting an entire orchestra to bring the whole concert hall to a loud and powerful climax as all instruments blare out to the full.

Jaguar XKR
Ignore the Ford Switchgear and instead look straight ahead

The very British performance experience is therefore both thrilling and classy at the same time. Something that definitely can be fully appreciated whilst sat inside as you enjoy a combination of sumptuous leather and wood trim, all while ignoring the slightly awkward and out of place Ford central console. Fortunately one that falls below your natural eye-line whilst on the move and, to give it some credit, does all work very well indeed.

Jaguar XKR
Says it all really

Externally the Jaguar XKR is a handsome looking beast, harking back to the iconic E-Type, with thicker and curvier rear rumps and a larger but still shapely front end. Designer Ian Callum’s first foray into Jaguar design delivers similar good looks but with bulging biceps and a meatier torso where more slender limbs were once found. In fact the relationship to its infamous 1960’s predecessor is not too dissimilar to the one BMW’s Mini enjoys today. You definitely appreciate the connection but cannot ignore the increase in size.

Jaguar XKR
The XKR is on track to be a classic continuing the big cat trend (Picture: Alex Nichols)

The acid test though has to be how the Jaguar XKR handles and how it makes you feel, the E-Type setting the bar particularly high on both counts. Surprise number one, when driving the XKR you still feel very British, a cut above other road users and definitely in a Jaguar. Followed by surprise number two; lithe handling combining trademark smoothness over lumps and bumps with a lack of roll in corners. In the end it’s only the sheer mass that prevents the XKR from being able to put together left right combos as convincingly as its Granddaddy.

Jaguar XKR
R is for SuperchargeR

Over the course of the last 12 months I have had the pleasure of driving this particular car three times now, once on an organised event which meant leaping back to the front of the pack after every stop. An excellent way to appreciate all 370 horses with the backdrop of the very purposeful supercharger whine. The XKR is a car that grows on you and is as important part of Jaguar’s history as the XJS and even E-Type that went before. What is does bring to the party is civility missing in the E and outright pace and handling not found in the XJS. With prices at rock bottom this is now a car that should now be very taken serious as a step into classic Jaguar ownership, the 4.2 litre quad cam V8 is a gem and in blown form in the XKR, a diamond at that.

Jaguar XKR keeps Jaguar’s British flag flying high into the 00’s with great looks, scintillating pace and decent handling. Only regret now must be on how much influence Ford had on the interior.


How does this car make you feel?

In one word: Strong

As a favourite meal: Steak and chips with pepper sauce

Anything Else: Supercharged V8 delivers a war cry like charging native Indians defending their territory

Key Ingredients: That engine and those distinctive looks


With thanks to Great Escape Classic Car Hire


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