Fortunately for jaguar, we are putting more emphasis on how these cars perform on the road than on the tracks. On the paper, the new XKR-S looked like it might do well around Anglesey. To the standard XKR’s stiff, relatively light weight aluminum construction and 416bhp supercharged V8 and the S adds firmer, 10mm lower suspension, revised steering and CATS adaptive damping, and six port Alcon brakes in addition to a bunch of cosmetic changes inside and out. Jaguar plays up its Nurburgring honed handling, and its chassis engineers seldom seem to get it wrong. Yet the XKR-S was easily the least comfortable on tracks, outpaced and out handled even by the open-topped, 300kg heavier SL. We watched the XK’S glorious long bonnet pitch and wallow before us like a Yngling in the heavy seas, hating Anglesey’s awkward, sudden direction changes. After the other the jag felt imprecise, uncooperative and just not the fast; a lap time of 1min 5.4secwas the slowest in the group. But while Merc SL’s surprising talents on the track translated directly to the road, the reverse was true of the jag. Its disappointing on the track precisely because it has been carefully, correctly optimized for the road. Despite the revised suspension and the big 20-inch rims it keeps its easy fluid ride at low speeds and over poor surface; it’s a little better than SL in this regard, and infinitely better than the other three.
The refinement stays at speed but its joined by terrific body control. There’s some float and roll; this is a GT after all, not a hardcore sports car, and this progressive change feels natural and keeps you in touch with car. Are we spoiled and out-of-touch to criticize a car for having only 416bhp? Maybe, but this is a comparison test, and that’s how we felt when we got into the Jaguar after one of the other. There isn’t much else to criticize, but its enough to send the XKR-S back Coventry.