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Expert Reviews 1 of 3
By Jim Flammang
April 7, 2004
Vehicle Overview Jaguar’s rear-wheel-drive XKR and XK8 earned some substantial re-engineering, including new 4.2-liter V-8 engines and a six-speed ZF automatic transmission, for 2003. Developing 390 horsepower in the high-performance XKR Series, the new supercharged V-8 replaced the previous 4.0-liter engine.
Jaguar last redesigned its XK8 coupe and convertible for 1997. Supercharged XKR models arrived for 2000.
A limited-edition Portfolio convertible is offered for the 2004 model year. Featuring 20-inch BBS alloy wheels, Recaro seats and bronze sapele veneer wood interior trim, only 200 will be built. Two unique colors will be available: Jupiter Red and Coronado Blue.
All XK models have Dynamic Stability Control to prevent wheelspin. Offered as a standard feature in the XKR, Jaguar’s Computer Active Technology Suspension 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.
Exterior Even though the overall appearance of the XKR didn’t change, the 2003 models displayed new badging and reworked headlights. The projectile-shaped XK body harks back to the stylish Jaguar E-Type sports cars of the 1960s. The XKR adds a functional louvered hood, 18-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights. Brembo brakes are standard.
The XKR sports a fine-mesh grille instead of the XK8’s 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.
Interior These models are theoretically capable of holding four occupants, but they’re 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 front occupants must employ a certain level of dexterity when climbing in and out of the low-slung XKR. Passengers enjoy the lush leather and abundant wood trim that decorates the cockpit.
Like their XK8 siblings, XKR coupes and convertibles have heated front seats and a 320-watt Alpine audio system with a six-CD changer. Jaguar’s navigation system is standard in the XKR. Optional Adaptive Cruise Control uses radar technology to sense vehicles ahead and, if necessary, select a new, more appropriate speed.
Under the Hood Jaguar’s 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 six-speed-automatic transmission is produced by the German ZF organization.
Safety Jaguar’s Adaptive Restraint Technology System (ARTS) includes head and thorax side-impact airbags mounted in the front-seat backrest cushions, and their deployment is based on input from sensors. Traction control and all-disc Brembo antilock brakes are standard. Emergency Brake Assist produces the shortest possible braking distance in urgent situations. Reverse Park Control emits a warning when you approach an obstacle while backing up.