Take one of the ten most classic cars ever produced, make it lighter, make it more powerful, and make it more luxurious, and you have the Jaguar XKR. This European import may not go down in history as an icon, like its predecessor, but that doesn’t mean it lacks charisma.
What makes an icon? In the case of the original E-Type, or XKE as it was also known, it was a vehicle design never seen before, so sleek, so unique, that it instantly captured the hearts and minds of any serious car lover. That was 1961. Fast forward to the Nineties and the E-Type morphed into the XK Series, the same sleekness, the same classic styling, but with refinements and new technology. A nice car but still lacking the pizzazz that had made the E-Type a legend.
Thus came the XKR, more powerful, more luxurious, more solid, more stable, and yet lighter and capable of so much more. Any description of the Jaguar XKR has to begin with the engine, a no-nonsense supercharge 4.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and capable of 0-60 in an amazing 4.9 seconds. Offered as both a coupe and a convertible, this fine piece of European machinery is lighter because of the new aluminum body and yet more solid because of the insistence on riveting anything and everything over and over again. The combination of more power and lighter body makes this feline of the roads seem to glide down the highway and because of the uncanny ability of engineers at Jaguar to eliminate noise it is almost dreamlike while performing. You sense power, you feel power, you see the road flashing by, but you seemingly don’t hear a sound.
The interior is nice but lacking the wood trim, which is a shame for purists. It comes with a standard six-speed automatic with paddle-shifters on the steering wheel that allows manual control. The only drawback to this model, and this could be said of the entire Jaguar family, is that on curvy, demanding roads one lacks a certain feel when driving it, as though the driver and car aren’t quite molded as one piece of machinery.
Say this about the folks at Jaguar: they understand tradition and they cling to it as a drowning sailor to a life-preserver. The classic styling of the E-Type is alive and well in the XKR and in this case that’s a very good thing. Car enthusiasts who love classic will love the XKR; modern drivers who have a hankering for new and powerful will love this car. It really is the near-perfect blend of the old and the new