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Expert Reviews 1 of 2
By Jim Flammang
March 26, 2003
Vehicle Overview Jaguars rear-wheel-drive XKR and XK8 which is covered separately in this Buying Guide get some substantial re-engineering for 2003, including new 4.2-liter V-8 engines and a six-speed ZF automatic transmission. Developing 390 horsepower in the high-performance XKR series, the new supercharged V-8 replaces last years 4.0-liter engine.
Jaguar last redesigned its coupe and convertible for 1997, dubbed XK8 to denote the V-8 engine that replaced the old six-cylinder. Supercharged XKR models arrived for 2000.
All 2003 XK models have Dynamic Stability Control to prevent wheelspin and Emergency Brake Assist to produce the shortest possible braking distance in emergencies. Jaguars Computer Active Technology Suspension, which is standard in the XKR, consists of a two-stage adaptive ride control system that automatically selects firm or soft damping in response to driving style.
Jaguar claims the XKR coupe will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in a brisk 5.2 seconds. Convertibles account for nearly 90 percent of XK sales in North America.
The overall appearance of the XKR hasnt changed, but the 2003 models display new badging and reworked headlights. Sensual and alluring in any form, the projectile-shaped XK body is comparatively tame in the XK8 trim, but its basic appearance harks back to the stylish Jaguar XK-E sports cars of the 1960s. The XKR adds a functional louvered hood, a rear spoiler and xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights. Brembo brakes are standard.
The XKR sports a fine-mesh grille instead of the XK8s bar design. An R logo is prominent, and the nose carries a Jaguar Supercharged badge. Convertibles have a one-touch power soft-top and a glass rear window with a defogger. All XK models have headlight washers.
Even though Jaguar XKs are theoretically capable of holding four occupants, theyre really 2+2 models that are suitable for just two passengers. Backseat riders should be small in stature in order to fit comfortably. Even the fortunate pair up front can expect to employ a certain level of dexterity when climbing in and out of the low-slung XKR, and space is at a premium once theyre seated. Once inside, passengers can enjoy the lush Connolly leather and abundant wood trim that decorates the Jags cockpit.
Like their XK8 siblings, XKR coupes and convertibles have heated front seats and a premium, 320-watt Alpine audio system with a six-CD changer. Jaguars navigation system is standard in the XKR. Optional Adaptive Cruise Control uses radar technology to sense vehicles ahead and, if necessary, select an appropriate new speed.
Under the Hood
Jaguars new supercharged 4.2-liter dual-overhead-cam V-8 engine in the XKR coupe and convertible produces 390 hp at 6,100 rpm and 399 pounds-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. The new six-speed-automatic transmission is produced by the German ZF organization.
Jaguars Adaptive Restraint Technology System (ARTS) includes head and thorax side-impact airbags mounted in the front-seat backrest cushions. Deployment is based on input from sensors that determine whether occupants are in position and belted. Traction control and all-disc Brembo antilock brakes are standard. Reverse Park Control emits a warning when you approach an obstacle while backing up.