The 2012 Jaguar XKR-S convertible is the ragtop version of the most powerful convertible Jaguar has ever built, the supercharged XKR-S. In just about every measure, this car is stunning. The exterior design is as sexy as cars get, with beautiful, graceful lines accented with purposeful scoops, flares and a carbon-fiber front splitter and rear wing. The exhaust note coming from the supercharged 5,0-litre V8 is intoxicating.
Our first moments behind the wheel were in a flat-out speed run down the main 8 500-foot long, 200-foot wide runway at El Centro Naval Air Station in the California desert. The air base, the winter home of the Navy’s Blue Angels precision flight-demonstration team, was also the location for several scenes from the movie Top Gun.
This is fitting as we powered down the monster runway, top down, watching the speedometer climb above 165 mph. We were instructed to get off the power as we passed the 5 000-foot mark of the runway, giving us ample time to slow down using the massive disc brakes–15-inch rotors in front, 14s in the rear–to come to a halt.
While we didn’t reach the car’s limited top speed of 186 mph, we have no doubt that given the room, the car will easily reach that speed. The convertible drives much the same as the XKR-S coupe that we tested last June.
The V8 has plenty of punch down low and pulls strong as the revs climb toward the 6 500-rpm redline.
While the previous-generation XKR was noted for the whine emitted from the supercharger, with the XKR-S, engineers opted for a sweet exhaust note.
Using a crossover in which exhaust from each cylinder bank is mixed before exiting out through an electronically controlled “active” exhaust valve, the car sounds like a Le Mans racer.
The aluminum chassis is rock-solid and, according to Jaguar engineers, the XK chassis was designed as a convertible, so no additional bracing was needed to stiffen the chassis when the roof was removed. The convertible weighs in at just 88 pounds heavier than the coupe, because of the mechanism needed to operate the fabric top. The top will open or close in less than 20 seconds.