First Drive : Jaguar XKR-S Convertible

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

Speaking to Jaguar engineers, one thing that they’re particularly proud of is just how little separates the XKR-S Coupe and the Convertible dynamically. They’ll tell you that it does what it needs to at the Nurburgring Nordschliefe, and can complete the lap in a time that starts with a ‘seven’.

So, seriously capable. It was designed and developed alongside the coupe, and as we end up tackling some of Southern California’s more challenging mountain roads, it’s clear that the convertible does feel very similar to the coupe. That means wonderful throttle response, quick and usable transmission, and delicious turn-in and exit-adjustability.

It also possesses beautifully geared and accurate steering, which is a tad light for press-on drivers, and damping that allows fluid progress on real – pock-marked, cambered and crunchy – roads. That’ll be down to Jaguar’s secret weapon: a testing programme that takes in British B-roads. Brilliant.

The convertible is not completely the same as the coupe dynamically – the damping rates have been beefed up slightly, and if anything, it feels even more willing to turn-in than the already pointy coupe. Do we like this slightly surprising development? Yes, once we’re acclimatized. And that’s the whole point of the XKR-S Convertible – it’s a drop-top for hard drivers. But it can waft reasonably effectively too.

As for the rest of the car – it’s standard XK Convertible. So that means a great driving position, slightly scattered ergonomics, a quick folding hood, and a usefully large boot. Likeable it certainly is. The XKR-S Convertible’s aerodynamic addenda is clearly effective, adding downforce, but we wish it was more subtle – and didn’t make it look down in the mouth. As with the coupe, its £20K price premium over the standard XKR will have some customers asking awkward questions – but given the additional performance and subtly enhanced dynamics, it’s great news that enthusiastic drivers are given a genuine choice.

In short, as great as the runway blast was, it was in real-world driving that the XKR-S Convertible’s true range of abilities shone through. Buy with confidence if you want a usable convertible that looks good, drives responsively, sounds joyous, and can work as well on a run to the shops as it does in the mountains.

For the full story, visit the Octane website

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

22 Comments

  1. Bwahahaha! Jemma – that’s what I thought but pushed my crass comparison aside ’til I read your comment 😉

    I love the fact that Jag are making such cars, but I think a few more questions are required about the price tag – 20k quid more? There must be some serious margins in that! Perhaps it just highlights the yawning chasm left by MG Rover and the MG F/TF (are they still assembling TF’s at Longbridge?) as a Joe Sixpack sportscar.

  2. Well the guy at the place next door to where I work runs the coupe and that sounds awesome, so a top down model will have the perfect soundtrack.

  3. Impressive though this is why is it that Jaguar launch a gorgeous looking car and then start adding stuff to it to make it look worse. This looks like a dogs dinner as did later versions of the previous XK.

    Give me the standard one any day.

  4. it doesnt look a bit like an MGF I bet its heavier, nicer and more reliable, better handling etc. it still looks like a Jaguar….an old corporate saying, nothing changes if nothing changes.

  5. Sorry, but I rather like the Jaguar XK convertible in any guise as it is everything the MGF isn’t – macho, dramatic, possesses a real presence and a clever twist of modern design with a subtle nod to its heritage through its bonnet design and tail-lamps.

    Admittedly I don’t like the rear spoiler or additional air intakes in the front bumper of the XKR-S, but thankfully it isn’t a bigger looking version of the rather effeminate-looking MGF.

  6. To all concerned – it doesn’t look like the MGF or the MGTF. There’s nothing wrong with the MGF/TF apart from you lot not having one.

  7. If you saw this Jag for real, there’s no way it could be mistaken for an MG-F and that’s before the engine’s started.

  8. BSD

    @2.Bob-
    My dear Bob,when i compare the car prices of UK to the prices here in Israel,believe me that you have nothing to complain about…

    Let’s take the new JAG XJ,it’s price in Israel is-hold your seat!- beween 70,000-166,000 pounds…

    And the new XF begins at 57,500 pounds,all the way to 98,170 pounds for the 5.0 V8 PREMIUM LUXURY-and this price is an unusual price for only a limited number of vehicles that will be sold as a limited edition!

    Now,i’d really like to know the price range of the XJ and the XF in UK…

  9. @ TwoR8s:

    I don’t actually want an MGF or TF, even if it was given to me. Although I am ‘only’ 5′ 11″ tall, the driving position is extremely uncomfortable, based on the height of the seat in relation to the steering wheel and angle of the pedals, lack of comfort in the seat itself and the insufficient rake adjustment of the steering column to give sufficient clearance between the bottom of the steering wheel rim and my knees. Also, the footwells feel decidely cramped for my size 11s.

    Give me the better looking and better appointed Rover 216 Cabriolet any day, even if it doesn’t feel as sporty in the ride or handling departments. Definitely more my cup of tea.

  10. @ David 3500:

    Re: the MGF, at 5’11” myself i found the driving position in my MGF fine and had no problems fitting my size 12s in the footwell and whilst looks are subjective the handling is far sportier with better grip on twisty country roads at speed than either of the 216 cabriolets that i have owned. I do like the R8 cabrio and will probably have another in the future as they are a good looking and well put together family convertible, but they are no sports car, but the MGF handles as well, i would say as the MX5.

  11. “Perhaps it just highlights the yawning chasm left by MG Rover and the MG F/TF (are they still assembling TF’s at Longbridge?”

    Well while in that particular shot it does have more than a passing resemblance, we all know it to be a much larger car. I hardly think you can consider this as trying to fill a ‘chasm’ left by the MGTF.

  12. “Re: the MGF, at 5’11″ myself i found the driving position in my MGF fine and had no problems fitting my size 12s in the footwell”

    They changed the seating position at some point around 2000 though. I remember getting in an N reg car once and all i could see in front of me was the top of the windscreen frame, i had to duck down to be able to drive it. It wasn’t possible to get both comfortable and be able to see. With the roof up i’d have been pushing a bulge in the soft top with my head.
    I later got in a W reg one and that was a totally different kettle of fish, not quite sure what they’d changed but i could both see and be comfortable.

    Don’t remember any problems with footwell space, but then i drive a mini and trucks so i just adapt to the difference.

  13. I’m a Jaguar fan, but I’d never noticed how much it looks like an MGF before, the resemblance is remarkable! Except for the front bumper, which looks like the designer might own a Citroen DS3…

    Spooky!

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