Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Calvin Chan
We are here to bid farewell to one of the most beautiful modern GT cars to this day, the Jaguar XK. After 18 years of alluring models and spinoffs, the XK is hitting the history books. What better way to say goodbye than to spend an entire week with the cream of the crop, the 2015 Jaguar XKR-S Convertible.
We couldn't have asked for better weather either. It's 25 degrees in Toronto, the sun is beating and the asphalt is burning hot. Considering we spent the last six months in Goose jackets and Parajumpers, I think it's safe to say, drop-top season is finally here - and we have the perfect whip of the week to take advantage of it.
The mumbo-jumboed letters glued on the XKR-S rear serve a purpose, that extra "S" isn't there just for show. It means this feline packs an extra 40 horsepower over the standard XKR, delivering a total 550 horses to the rear wheels. The feeling of a 550-horse chariot in a drop-top convertible can be hard to imagine, especially for us that have never driven a car of this magnitude before. If you ever have the chance, head to the Cedarpoint theme park in Sandusky, Ohio. Hop on the Top Thrill Dragster rollercoaster ride and you will instantly know what it feels like. You get thrusted to oblivion, followed by a quick adrenaline rush and an obligatory smirk. The only thing you will feel bad about are the dead bugs on your windshield.
This magnificent supercharged V8 engine comes alive when you push the beating red START/STOP button on the center console. The acceleration is break-neck quick, and its exhaust note is nothing to joke about. Hit the dynamic mode button and the XKR-S will make a similar raspy noise to the F-Type, but sounds deeper and more refined. The F-Type's exhausts open up around the 3000rpm range, while the XKR-S needs at least 4000-5000rpm to hear the full mature growl.
Your neck will be greeted by a torque-filled punch at 4000rpm when the car jumps to lightspeed, and though the XKR-S red-lines at 7000rpm, most of the actual torque is well below that limit. Pushing the car above 6000rpm feels harsh and tangled, almost like travelling through an unchartered forest.
The XKR-S is mated to an old-fashioned 6-speed automatic that feels outdated when compared to the buttery 8-speed ZF transmission found in the F-Type. The gear shifts are a bit slow and the transmission will often reject your down-shifting inputs, but when you manage a down-shift, the XKR-S growls and delivers some satisfying auto-rev grunts. When cruising at low speeds through traffic, I would quickly up-shift to 3rd, just so I can shift right back down to 2nd and hear that sonorous tune. It kept me from melting away in DVP rush-hour boredom.
The brake and chassis on the otherhand are superb. With a car this fast, it is nice to have the confidence to rely on these sensitive pair of brakes. The XKR-S corners with much less oversteer than the standard XKR. We also found it much more controllable at higher speeds thanks to all the downforce from the massive carbon fibre spoiler and extra aero bits.
The ride quality is surprisingly comfortable. With dynamic mode off and the gear rotated to D, the XKR-S makes for a delightful long-distance cruiser. The low suspension is manageable and you won't have any trouble getting over speedbumps or raised curves, just take it slow. We took the Jag a few hours up north to take some pictures, and found the suspension to be soft enough at high speeds to absorb bumps on the highways and city roads, and stiff enough that it won't spoil the dynamic drive.
The fuel economy of this thirsty machine is better when you don't think about it. Just fill it up and don't look at how much was charged to your credit card. When driving conservatively we managed an average of 14.5L/100km, but on the days where our right foot became itchy, it bumped up to 16. And yes, it needs premium 91 octane.
The XK design has lasted more than 7 years, and it still looks elegant to this day. Jaguar's chief designer, Ian Callum, claimed that the inspiration for the XK design came from his admiration for Kate Winslet's curves. Never would he have thought that Kate would get some carbon fibre splitters and a massive rear wing. She also gets a few extra nose inlets for better air intake to her supercharger, and to finish it off she wears 20-inch P Zero Pirellis and bright red calipers. The aerodynamic pieces are definitely not subtle, but the black on black with hints of exposed carbon fibre works well to keep it hidden within traffic. The other day we passed by an XKR-S Coupe on the 404, and it was sporting the Italian Racing Red paint, and my, does that thing stands out like a sore thumb - a beautiful sore thumb that is.
The XKR-S interior quite simply, feels like old-school money. Cloth inserts, leather seats and carbon-fibre styled panels. Every bit is as refined and furnished as the next. Our tester was fitted with the $990 RS Suedecloth heated steering wheel that grips well and feels tactile. Many of my colleagues are against suede and alcantara as it fades faster and looks more worn out than traditional leather wheels, but I can't help but feel like a racing driver when grasping one of these.
Even with all the lavish materials, there are still shiny plastic controls and buttons that I am not a big fan of. Not only that, the actual lack of buttons becomes a nuisance. For example, the sun is out and you want to put the top down. With wind in your hair and a nice breeze filling your lungs, you won't need the air conditioning and you proceed to turn off the fans. Well, to do this you have to manually scroll through the home menu, get to the climate screen, and hit the OFF button. There is no dedicated button for it. Now this doesn't sound like too much of a chore, only until you realize how outdated the infotainment system is. The controls lag when you push it, the screen freezes, and the USB audio won't even recognize my plugged-in iPhone. I expect much more from a car worth $150k, and no there is no Bluetooth audio option available either. I got so tired of commuting and listening to overplayed songs on the radio that I even resorted to plugging in my iPad, which the Jag surprisingly recognizes. Whether this is a deal breaker or not is up to the consumer to decide, but I certainly don't want to spend this much money on a car unless everything is perfect.
But as with every Jag, there are some special touches that make it feel exclusive. One example is the door locking mechanism. There is no actual lock-button inside, rather you push the curvy door handles into its socket to lock, and pull it to unlock. Neat! The classic rising rotary shifter also makes its way into the XKR-S, while all the sporty new Jaguar and Range Rover models are getting the leather gear stalk. This rotary shifter is a perfect example of style over function. It is a trendy feature and every passenger in your car will be in awe, but it's cumbersome to use. It forces you to actually look to see what gear you are in rather than "feeling" it.
There is a hefty amount of legroom for the driver and passenger. The seats are snug and the steering wheel can be adjusted to a comfortable position. There are plenty of storage compartments in the car so you will never run out of space to put your phone and wallet. The rear seats on the other hand are a complete joke. Don't expect anyone to actually sit back there. They serve better as extra storage areas for big dufflebags than anything else. And as with most convertibles, the trunk storage space shrinks to fit the retractable roof, and if you don't keep a spare tire in the boot, you might be able to squeeze in a suitcase or two.
Back in 2002 when the original Jaguar XKR debuted, the 400 horsepower classic pushed the envelope to compete against the likes of Ferrari and Porsche, and 12 years later, the XKR-S still proves it can stand the test of time. Performance, looks, and soul is what keeps this British moniker successful. But with the faster, lighter, and more affordable F-Type rolling off the line, the XK is becoming obsolete. 2014 is the year in which the XK is meant to retire, and it's a bittersweet ending. I think it's about time I stop writing, start driving, and enjoy every last moment I have with this stunning GT cruiser.
型号 Model: 2015 Jaguar XKR-S Convertible
顏色 Paint Type: Ultimate Black ($1600) Premium Paint
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $146,000
試車售價 Price as Tested: $149,015
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2750
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4792 / 1892 / 1328
車重 Weight (lb): 4079
引擎 Engine: 5.0L Supercharged V8
最大馬力 Horsepower-HP: 550 / 6000-6500rpm
最高扭力 Torque-LB-FT: 502 / 3500-5500rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Double wishbone
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Double wishbone
循跡操控系统 ABS/Traction Control: Standard
油耗 Fuel Consumption (Combined): Averaged 14.5 L/100km
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Front - 295/30ZR20, Rear - 255/35ZR20