Text/Images By Conrad Dodd
Jaguar has stepped up its game with its quickest car ever, the 2012 XKR-S. With its 550 horsepower and 4,100-pound curb weight, that's an easily believable boast. This car is properly fast.
Jaguar claims a 0-60 mph dash will take only 4.2 seconds. For once, that feels like an understatement. The current XKR has been tested around the 4.0 second mark already. Doing the math, a 4.2 second 0-60 mph for the XKR-S seems silly. After all, it pumps out an additional 40 horses over the XKR.
The exhaust note is violent under full acceleration thanks to some changes to the standard plumbing. Thank you very much Jaguar, it's fantastic. The 295/30R20 Pirelli P Zero tires on the rear wheels are necessary to keep all the power in hand.
Jaguar made changes to the springs, dampers, and differential as well. The result is a better-handling car than the standard XKR. Around town, the car was a little stiff, but it's a fair trade off for the additional performance.
I imagine this car is brilliant on a track, but that will have to wait for another day.
The Jaguar XKR-S exterior is trimmed in carbon fiber, including a front splitter and rear wing. The rear diffuser is a visual reminder of the car's 186 mph top speed. The 20-inche wheels look great in combination with the 10 millimeter lower stance on the XKR-S.
The interior is all class, as you would expect from Jaguar these days. The seats are aggressively bolstered, obviously race inspired (based on the five-point harness cut-outs) and trimmed in beautiful black leather with contrasting white stitching.
The touch screen navigation is a little clunky and hard to read in the wrong light. It's a shortcoming that should be easy to live with thanks to the wonderfully distracting Bower & Wilkins sound system and the aforementioned exhaust growl.
Facts & Figures, 2012 Jaguar KKR-S
Price as tested: $132,875
550hp @ 6500 rpm
502 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
0-60 mph: 4.2 seconds
Quarter-mile: 12.3 seconds
Top Speed: 186 mph
Aggressive exterior carbon fiber bits.
The seats look and feel like a million bucks.
The navigation screen is small and hard to read at times.
Dollars per horsepower over the XKR may not make sense.
The brakes feel a little soft and hard to read under hard application.
The Bottom Line:
This car takes a skill to drive to its full abilities, but that's half the fun of a supercharged rear-wheel drive GT car. I like the XKR, so I love the XKR-S. It's a tough call, but I would pay the extra $35,000 over the XKR. This is one of those times when the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Freelance writer Conrad Dodd, who has been in the auto business professionally for 15 years, was raised in family of auto collectors, restorers, racers, car lovers and sales people.
Article Last Updated: February 15, 2012.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.