After making its debut at the Geneva Motor Show 2011, Jaguar has taken the top off its most powerful model just in time for summer.. Well, perhaps not here in the UK, but rather than let rain, snow and freezing-fog stop play, Jaguar has chosen to launch its new XKR-S Convertible in sunny Los Angeles during this week’s Auto Show.
We’ve become accustomed to the brutal demeanour of the XKR-S since we first clapped eyes on it in March. Jaguar insist its looks are a result of form following function as they sought to reduce lift and maximise the car’s aerodynamic stability, but I like to think it’s indicative of the more feral nature of company’s fiercest Big Cat.
And this Big Cat has teeth. Based on an uprated version of the 5.0-litre supercharged AJ-V8 engine used throughout the XK range, The XKR-S delivers 542 bhp and 502lb/ft (680Nm) of torque, representing an increase of 8 and 9 percent respectively over the Jaguar XKR.
In its transformation to a convertible, the XKR-S loses none of the coupe’s heady performance, maintaining a top speed of 186mph and 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds. But it’s not just straight-line performance which remains untarnished – with the XK model designed as a convertible from the outset, Jaguar’s engineers were able to apply the changes that created the XKR-S Coupe into the open-topped GT without compromising performance, agility or refinement.
A kerb weight of 1800kg and torsional rigidity of 16,500 Newton metres per degree provided Jaguar’s engineers with a solid foundation for the changes. Both front and rear suspension systems have been revised. A new aluminium steering knuckle in the front double wishbone suspension increases camber stiffness by 23 percent to provide even greater levels of steering accuracy and feedback. To increase stability and control, the Active Differential has been uprated to reduce steering sensitivity at very high speeds.
Rear damper top mounts have been stiffened over and above the changes found on the XKR-S Coupe while the rear wheel steer effect has been optimised for agility. Spring rates front and rear have been increased by 28 percent while a bespoke Adaptive Damping programme for the XKR-S maximises body control, traction and grip.
Unsprung mass has been reduced by nearly five percent through the fitment of lightweight, forged alloy wheels, which also offer greater traction and grip levels thanks to wider rear tyres that were specifically developed for use on the XKR-S and serve to increase the size of the tyre contact patch. The XKR-S convertible rides on Pirelli P-Zero tyres (255/35 ZR20 at the front and 295/30 ZR20 at the rear).
In order to allow the enthusiastic driver to enjoy the benefits of these changes, the Dynamic Stability Control system has undergone bespoke changes. In Trac DSC mode, specific traction, stability and Active Differential settings reduce intervention levels and enhance mid-corner adjustability, allowing the exhilarating handling to be safely exploited to the full.
The Jaguar High Performance Braking System fitted as standard is more than a match for the car’s seductive performance. Huge brake discs – 380mm front and 376mm rear – in combination with aluminium callipers and pad area increases of 44 percent front and 31 percent rear in comparison to the XK provide confidence inspiring levels of power, stability and feel.
Inside, the XKR-S Convertible uses carbon-leather trimmed versions of Jaguar’s Performance seats which feature integrated head rests, racing harness cut-outs and increased side and squab support to hold driver and passenger securely during high speed cornering. The 16-way adjustable, heated seats feature highlights of carbon leather and contrast micropiping unique to the model.
Other enhancements include a multifunction three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel and Jaguar-embossed bright stainless steel pedals, soft-feel paint for the switches and a gloss-black centre console. An exclusive dark aluminium finish is available as standard with an optional Piano Black finish also available.
On show from today at the LA Auto Show, pricing is estimated to start at £103,000 when it goes on sale in the UK early next year.