2010 Jaguar XKR
Performance and efficiency. These are the two cardinal attributes that all car designers are aiming for these days, and Jaguar is no different. For the last few years, the automaker's latest XK has relied heavily on its riveted and bonded aluminum-intensive architecture to achieve low weight, which is the first necessity for sporting credentials. For 2010, Jaguar is taking that successful formula and adding lots more power via an enlarged version of its AJ V8 engine. Direct injection, variable valve timing and a variable-geometry intake manifold all conspire to increase power to 510 hp while also having the desirable effect of improving fuel efficiency. Of course, an impressive engine is only a small part of the overall desirability of a new car, and Jaguar claims to have given its XK line, available in both a Portfolio model and uplevel R-model for the 2010 model year, a thorough freshening. So, what are they on about? Plenty, it seems. Keep reading.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let's take a better look at that new engine. As per usual, a roots-type supercharged and intercooled version of the aluminum engine is available in the XKR that has seen its power swell all the way to 510 horsepower and 461 lb-ft of torque – enough to launch the R to 60 in just 4.6 seconds. A naturally-aspirated Portfolio model does the deed in 5.2 seconds thanks to 385 hp and 380 lb-ft. All that extra power comes with no increase in fuel consumption and carbon emissions are actually improved slightly. Jaguar says the new powerplants are the most efficient in their class. Interestingly, the brand has joined the ranks of automakers that purposely pipe underhood sounds into the cabin – all the better to hear the new V8's soundtrack.
Jaguar says that there have been many changes to the XK's appearance, and we'll take them at their word. Specifically, the front bumper, rear LED tail lamps and light clusters are said to be all-new, but it'll take a trained eye to spot the differences in the real world. Then again, the cat's styling was probably the area that needed the least bit of attention. It's still a looker. Standard 19-inch alloys and optional 20's round out the exterior package.
Both powerplants come equipped with a ZF 6-speed automatic transmission that's now shifted with the marque's JaguarDrive Selector -- complete with the accompanying dial that pops up from the center console upon entry along with (as the Brits would say) steering wheel-mounted flappy paddles. All this interior theater is new for the XK and was previously only available on the firm's latest XF sedan.
The new gear selector is joined by gauges that now have red pointers and white illumination as opposed to the classic green. Exciting! Of course, as is befitting a Jag-U-R, the driver is coddled with heated and cooled seats, plus a new three-spoke steering wheel. Leather? Of course, in your choice of multiple hues. Wood? If you'd like, in either oak or classic walnut; alternatively, choose one of the optional aluminum trims for a sportier, less opulent look.
What's a modern luxury car without all of its techno-goodies? Fortunately, Jaguar has those based covered too, with a full touch-screen-based multimedia system that controls... oh, just about everything, including the audio controls, climate control and satellite navigation system. We'll reserve judgment until we get the chance to use it in the real world, as the previous system looked pretty but was slow to react to inputs. We're happy to report that the car will in fact include an iPod jack, along with a USB port that should support all the rest of those technological wonders that we just can't seem to live without these days.
Choose either the coupe or convertible model, the latter of which retains a flush-folding cloth top that's raised and lowered electronically in 18 seconds. Naturally, Jaguar claims that its open-top version is plenty robust, but we're certain that true performance junkies will prefer the hardtop's greater rigidity. Adaptive Dynamics replaces the old Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS) system, and joins a full list of electronic driving nannies like Adaptive Damping System, Active Differential Control and Dynamic Stability Control.
We've always thought that the Jaguar XK was a pretty car, but it's been down on power and available features to properly do battle with its mostly German competition. From the sounds of things (there's an entire press release worth of updates below), the sorta-British automaker has armed its latest grand tourer with what it truly needs to remain solidly in the mix of things. If nothing else, 510 leaping kitties is surely enough to win over some new friends.