Having spent time in some or other car during the previous two Joburg Pride parades, I really needed to step up my game for the 2012 event. My ride needed to be hot – like the weather – with a roof that could disappear and enough swag to create a stir. Enter then the Jaguar XKR-S Convertible, the fastest production Jaguar the world has ever seen.
You have to admit – and if you spotted me in the parade you’ll agree – this car just oozes sex appeal. The svelte and sexy XK lines have been doped up with body extensions, carbon fibre detailing and aerodynamic tweaks, which go a long way to realising its top speed of 300 km/h. I wouldn’t necessarily call it pretty, because a Jaguar should never need to shout about its business. It is hot though, and the arse is definitely my favourite bit, with its carbon fibre rear wing, diffuser and four shiny exhaust pipes on show to differentiate this from a normal XK or XKR.
The interior is a mix of modern and classic luxury, with a veneer of sportiness and speedy touches we’ve come to expect from super-fast cars these days; red interior accents, carbon-look leather, chromed switches, glossy black surfaces and thick-pile carpets. This may be a speed demon but it’s still a good old Jag – even the needles in the speedometer and rev counter have a wobble, alluding to Jaguars of yesteryear.
This car could easily have been painted in brown and looked like a turd, because what lies under the bonnet is so awe-inspiring and brutal that the rest of the car doesn’t really matter. It’s so loud that you can hear it coming from miles away under a thundercloud of raw V8 muscle and backfires. The source of all the noise is a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 that shoves a mammoth 404 kW and 680 Nm to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox.
And while those figures might not make too much sense to the average Joe, let me put it this way: that’s only 16 kW less than a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and it’s 80 Nm more than a McLaren MP4-12C – two of the fastest cars in the world, both of which I’ve driven. The performance results speak for themselves: its ridiculous top speed is achievable with the roof down and, with a 0-100 km/h sprint time of just 4.4 seconds, you’ll get there very quickly indeed.
Of course, dawdling in the Pride parade meant that this car could have been powered by a hamster, so I had to occupy my mind with other aspects of the car for those two hours of direct sunlight and happy people. Good thing then that a brilliant Bowers & Wilkins audio system is installed with full media support and that the XKR-S is superbly comfortable, the sports leather seats with their electric adjustment and inflatable side bolsters providing as much comfort as a Lazyboy – and not just while sitting in traffic. Working together with the car’s exceptionally supple suspension and comfortable ride, it’s no more painful to drive than a large executive saloon and you could comfortably use this car every day.
That is, if you can afford to. Besides the fact that it costs R1.8-million, this is the thirstiest car I’ve ever driven; its 71-litre tank reaching the empty mark after just 240 km! Shocking, I know, but that’s just an example of the enormity of this car’s arrogance.
It also makes no bones about how much power is under its bonnet – the rear tyres will do anything to light up during a corner and even with the traction control switched half-off (where it will allow for some oversteer before saving your life), you need to be awake to drive this car quickly and with gusto through corners.
If you intend to switch the traction control off completely, I hope you own a tyre company and that your life insurance policy is up to date.
So, as a driving tool it isn’t perhaps as sharp as a BMW M6 and as a car to own every day it’s as cost effective as using Evian water to wash your clothes. The thing is, this is a Jag. I couldn’t care less if for just a little more money you could buy a Maserati GranCabrio Sport or that for a whole lot less you could have the new M6 Convertible – this Jag is the epitome of classy, luxurious, speed. Do you want a proper sports car that favours lap times above lap dances? Or do you want a super-fast grand tourer with enough sex appeal to melt an ice berg? If it’s the latter you’re after, find a Jag dealer and leave your conscience at home…