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Jaguar XKR-S: Claws? This car has machetesThe most powerful XK ever made was always going to be a potent beast, but the XKR-S may just be too much for the road. Maybe.
Jaguars, they're for older, smarmy gentlemen who walked home from the golf club that when they get home, have a mug Ovaltine, a Strange Wit and a long deep slumber, right? Now, normally more than that. This is the Jaguar XKR-S. It was formally unleashed on the world at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show and is, to put it politely, feral. Let me talk you through this one, up front it's got 2 extra dents to keep its giant engine cooled it's Aero body kit, makes it look equally unhappy, but also is that it's got a maniacal grin like the Joker offered to Batman. At the back, four exhaust pipes sit snuggly in a massive splitter and that's just beneath a giant carbon fiber wing. Now the wing is there for a very good reason, it's to stop that feral beast from splitting you off the road and eating you whole. This generation of XK was launched in 2006 following the reveal of the 2005 Geneva Motor Show. Its designer Ian Callum, who also pens the Aston Martin DB7, says that the inspiration for the XK was Kate Winslet's curves. Does that mean I'm technically in Kate Winslet, because I am entirely cool with that? Under the XKR-S' massive hood, you'll find a 5-liter Supercharged V8 boasting 542 brake horsepower and 501 pound per foot of torque. That's 40 more horses than the standard XKR, but that's not all Jaguar has done. They've not just up the power, given it's the same car-- oh, no. They fiddled with the suspension, the ECU, the traction control basically, everything under the skin to make this the most hard core, most driver-focused, and frankly, a little bit mad experience you can have. But there's only two reasons I can think that they do this. The first, well if you can build the best then, why not, and create the fastest production Jaguar has ever been made. I know what you're thinking, "But the Jaguar XJ220 was the fastest they've ever made," but that wasn't really a full production car, was it? The XK on the other hand really is. The XKR-S will hit 62 miles an hour in just 4.4 seconds. It will go longer to 186 miles an hour, that's 300 kilometers an hour through foreign money. Now to put that into perspective, the standard XKR would do enough to 62 dash in 4.8 seconds and manage only 155 miles an hour. Now that puts the XKR-S in some seriously fast company. You think it might top end of R8s, and silly engine vantages, and oh the Porsches and things like that, one thing about this car, in any car like this with the big 5-liter Supercharged V8 that you have to love, it's the noise. The noises they make-- it's just dirty, guttural in mechanical. Check this out, hang on. Nothing should pick up speed quite like this thing. It's unbelievable. It's tons of like being on a magic carpet powered by a nuclear missile. However, there is a down side to all the tweaking. In the wet, it's a little bit lairing, very lairing. This thing has a mind of its own. If you live in California, this is the perfect car for you. In the dry, it grips wonderfully. You can have a lot of fun with it. You can really exploit it and appreciate what it can do without it swinging you off the road. A vicious brother, it is mad, so much so that I wouldn't call it unusable, I just say you can't get the best out of it which is a crying shame. In normal mode, still the rear end's twitching, trying to get anywhere because, well it's got too much power for itself to cope with, which I never ever fully tight say the car has too much power, then you slip it into dynamic mode, and that lowers its dose of lithium and it just goes wild-- the back end that says, "No, I want be over there and I want to be over there and there and there," it doesn't stop it from being brilliant fun, but I'd almost say it's not really suited for normal roads. Jaguar insist that this isn't a truck car but more a luxury GT, to get you from A to B as quickly as humanly possible and just that little bit quicker than it's little brother the XKR. But are they sure? The XKR-S is a powerful, indecently fast GT road weapon. It'll surprise, delight, and in the wrong weather, mildly terrify you. It gets under your skin in a way that Jaguars do. You love it, you feel part of it, you feel part of the experience and all you want to do is drive it, and you can't tame the beast, but to do that, it's best kept in the captivity of a track, trained over and over again in the set routine. Of course you can let it out every now and then, but I fear the best place to keep it is in a cage with plenty of space to play. You know what they say the line between genius and insanity is a thin one. Would I have one, oh yes, but I keep it in a patent garage.