Big cat roars in NY

Jaguar boosts the performance of the XJ saloon and XK coupe to breathtaking levels

Jaguar is really asserting its sporty image these days!

Both the XJR and XKR-S GT are equipped with a 550hp, 5.0-litre supercharged V8.

It certainly is, especially now that it has revived the iconic E-type in the shape of the modern-day F-type. And that's not the only reason why Jaguar is trying to imbue other models like the XJ saloon and XK coupe with a more sporty feel. Hence, the XJR and XKR-S GT, currently being launched at the New York motor show _ both of which have been equipped with a 550hp, 5.0-litre supercharged V8.

How quick is the XJR?

The results are quite respectable, if you regard it as a luxury saloon. Paired with an eight-speed automatic, Jaguar says the XJR goes from 0-100kph in 4.6sec before reaching its governed upper limit of 280kph.

The XJR's acceleration time is identical to that of the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG, which is powered by a 525hp, 6.3-litre V8.

Since an all-new replacement for the S-class will be announced in May, the Jag has the edge in terms of freshness. Expect the XKR to cost around 14 million baht in Thailand.

Does that mean the XK's swansong is near?

It should be getting close; remember that the coupe will be turning seven years old this year. And what a way to honour the XK! But the spin Jaguar is putting on this is that the XKR-S GT is celebrating 25 years of the R performance brand.

What Jaguar actually did was to take the already speedy XKR-S, modify its chassis and aerodynamic properties for increased downforce and then add a GT badge. It's been equipped with a front carbonfibre air splitter, a rear wing and diffuser, 20-inch wheels and carbon-ceramic brakes.

The 550hp eight-pot and six-speed automatic remain the same, but the 0-100kph rating has slightly improved, from 4.4sec to 4.1sec. Top speed in the XKR-S GT is a restricted 300kph.

And, in case you were wondering, the Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradiale is 100hp less powerful and 0.4sec slower than the XKR-S GT.

Which then makes the XKR-S GT quite an attractive road-racer for hardcore drivers. The bad news is that only 30 units will be made, all in left-hand-drive format.

It would retail for somewhere between 17 and 18 million baht if imported to these shores.

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Writer: Richard Leu
Position: Motoring news Editor