Jaguar boosts the performance of its rear-drive sports car with the addition of a supercharger, creating the XKR models. This four-seater debuted for 1997 in XK8 coupe and convertible models powered by a V-8 engine.
Though Ford owns this famous British company, the styling, rear-drive platform and engines are designed and built by Jaguar, a rival for expensive European marques such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
The XK8s rounded, contoured styling carries some design elements of Jaguars XKE sports cars of the 1960s. XKR models have a wire mesh grille instead of the XK8s bar grille, functional hood louvers, 18-inch wheels and tires instead of 17-inch, and a small rear spoiler.
The convertible comes with a power top with a glass rear window with a defogger.
Climbing in and out of the low-slung XK requires some dexterity, and once inside theres not an abundance of room even in the front seats. The backseat is tiny. However, the materials are first class, with aromatic Connolly leather and ample amounts of wood trim.
Controls for the audio system incorporate a telephone keypad, and duplicate audio and phone controls are mounted on the steering wheel. Rain-sensing windshield wipers are a new standard feature. The only option for the XKR is a new $2,400 navigation system, which also is available on the XK8.
Under the Hood
Adding a supercharger boosts horsepower on Jaguars 4.0-liter V-8 to 370 in the XKR. The supercharged V-8 already was available in the XJR sedan. Horsepower remains at 290 in the naturally aspirated XK8 models. Both engines come with a five-speed automatic transmission, though the XK8s transmission is made by ZF, while the XKRs is built by Mercedes-Benz.
Computer Active Technology Suspension, which adjusts ride firmness based on vehicle speed and road conditions, is standard on the XKR. Traction control is standard on all models.
Gorgeous styling, refined and potent V-8s, and impressive acceleration and handling give the XK8 and XKR more than enough attractions to overcome their lack of practicality and high prices.