Jaguar XKR-S Convertible 2012 review

This is the Jaguar XKR-S Convertible, a 542bhp drop-top with a £100,000-plus price.

Jaguar XKR-S Convertible (2012) CAR review

A Jaguar XKR-S Convertible? Sounds a bit wrong to me. Can you imagine Porsche doing a GT3 cabrio?

Jaguar XKR-S Convertible (2012) CAR review

No, but then the XKR-S coupe and GT3 are very different cars, whatever the Jag’s fighty face and mighty figures suggest. The Porsche is, was and always will be, a trackday car for the road, but the Jag is a GT car that happens to be quite handy on track.

Really?

Jaguar XKR-S Convertible (2012) CAR review

Okay, so we didn’t drive it on track, but that’s the idea behind the XKR-S coupe, and the cabrio’s structure feels so tight and shake-free, we doubt it’d disgrace itself either. Jaguar’s engineers say that’s because the XK’s aluminium structure was designed as a cabrio as well as a coupe from the outset. There’s a 47kg weight penalty in the open car, but interestingly because that’s mostly located at the rear of the car, the cabrio’s weight distribution is actually better than the coupe’s.

Jaguar XKR-S Convertible (2012) CAR review

Ferrari retuned the 458 Spider’s chassis, claiming roadster buyers want a less overtly sporty experience. Has Jag done the the same?

Jaguar XKR-S Convertible (2012) CAR review

Nope. The R-S cabrio’s spring rates are different and its adaptive dampers recalibrated, but only to cope with the extra weight. The aim was to deliver a car with the same character as the coupe, and they’ve certainly managed it. Body control is superb, and with various XKR-S-specific tweaks, including the super-stiff aluminium front suspension knuckle that first appeared on 2010’s 75th anniversary car, the steering is as direct as a Roman road, and full of feel, while remaining easy on the forearms.

In character, it’s very definitely a really sorted GT as opposed to a raw road racer, but it’s certainly more than capable enough to keep even track fiends happy. Well, in the dry, at least. In damp or wet conditions, the XKR-S really does struggle to make use of its power advantage over a regular XKR, lack of traction becoming an issue even with the clever active differential doing its best to find purchase.

Jaguar XKR-S Convertible (2012) CAR review

Remind me: just how much extra power are we talking about.

Jaguar XKR-S Convertible (2012) CAR review

The XKR-S produces 542bhp from its supercharged 5-litre V8, up from 503bhp in the standard XKR. But it’s the torque you notice, the torque that the back wheels struggle to contain. There’s 502lb ft of the stuff between 2500-5500rpm and when you can actually manage to deploy it, the XKR-S feels every bit capable of the 4.4sec to 62mph and 8.7sec to 100mph that Jag claims. Top speed? Limited to 186mph, but likely to hit 200mph shorn of the electronic shackles.

And what’s the damage?

Jaguar XKR-S Convertible (2012) CAR review

The XKR-S cabrio costs £103,000, or £6000 more than the coupe. It’s also significantly pricier than the already superb XKR, and that might be too much, particularly for those not convinced by the aggressive body kit, which gives the Jag the look of a jowly MX-5. The dated, plasticky dashboard too, sits uneasily with that price. But in terms of performance and dynamics, the XKR-S is worth every penny, and even appears great value compared to Aston’s DBS Volante.

Verdict

Like Ferrari’s new 458 Spider, the XKR-S cabrio is another rapid rag-top that gives almost nothing away to its coupe cousin, yet adds another dimension to the experience.

Jaguar XKR-S Convertible (2012) CAR review

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