2015 Jaguar XKR-S Review: Introduction
For every mass-market cornerstone, there will always be an alternative. The 2015 Jaguar XKR-S has for several years presented exactly that to the world’s luxury sports coupe shoppers, a grand touring model that goes toe-to-toe with similarly-powerful models like the Porsche 911 Turbo S and the BMW M6. Selling in far fewer numbers than its German rivals, the Jaguar XKR-S layers top-tier acceleration and arresting looks over class and style in the British tradition, giving it an exclusivity not so much related to its price but rather the taste of its owners. If the 911 Turbo S is the car your dentist drives, then the XKR-S is the one you pull up beside at a stoplight and immediately wonder what scion of the aristocracy you have seemingly crossed paths with.
Despite its many charms, the moving target represented by federal safety regulations, combined with the successful launch of the smaller and nimbler Jaguar F-TYPE have conspired to make 2015 the final model year for the XK, XKR, and XKR-S. There’s no elaborate retirement ceremony planned and no flags to fly at half mast once the final XKR-S rolls off of the production line and into history - all that will remind us that this mighty beast once hunted our highways and byways will be the echo of its supercharged V-8 engine punishing the road beneath its wheels.
2015 Jaguar XKR-S Review: Models and Prices
Like most Jaguar automobiles, the 2015 Jaguar XKR-S at first seems expensive but upon comparison with its direct competitors is soon revealed to be a bit of a bargain. There’s only one trim level available for the XKR-S coupe, and it starts at an MSRP of $132,000 – a full $34,500 more than the similar XKR. It comes loaded to the gills with the accoutrements of the luxury lifestyle, including specially-stitched leather sport seats with power adjustments and inflatable bolsters, a touchscreen infotainment and navigation screen with Bluetooth phone (but not music streaming) capability, a limited-slip rear differential, a stiff suspension system that rides lower than any other XK model, multi-stage traction and stability control, a carbon fiber body kit that includes a rear diffuser, spoiler, and front diffuser. There's also upgraded brakes, 20-inch rims, a two-stage exhaust system, cruise control, and a CD player.
This was exactly how my test vehicle was configured, with no additional equipment on the table. Although the XKR-S’ six-figure sticker might seem high, it’s much less than one would pay for the previously mentioned 911 Turbo S (MSRP $182,700), especially when taking into account the expensive options structure surrounding this particular model.
2015 Jaguar XKR-S Review: Design
- The 2015 Jaguar XKR-S does not offer any new design cues compared to the previous model year.
The 2015 Jaguar XKR-S rides on a platform that dates all the way back to 2005, but you wouldn’t know that just by scoping out its bodacious body work. The XKR-S takes the long and sexy lines of the standard XK and sends them to the wind tunnel, emerging with a fully functional aerodynamics package that significantly reduces lift as the car claws its way to its 186-mph top speed. The carbon fiber rear trunk spoiler gets the most attention from passersby, but it’s the carbon diffuser at the front of the car and surrounding the quad exhaust tips that catch the eye of true enthusiasts. Dark 20-inch rims and air inlets grafted onto each side of the front fascia complete the track-ready look for the Jaguar, and the Italian Racing Metallic red paint of the vehicle I drove is one of the best colors in the brand’s catalog.
The interior of my tester was wrapped in reams of red leather to match its deep exterior hue, with an Alcantara steering wheel also putting in an appearance to further suggest that this was no normal luxury coupe. It’s a well-composed cabin, with the Jaguar dial shifter rising up out of the center console after stabbing the pulsing red ignition button that sits just above it, and certainly in keeping with the expectations engendered by its price tag.
2015 Jaguar XKR-S Review: Comfort and Cargo
- The 2015 Jaguar XKR-S does not add any new comfort or cargo features.
Ordering the 2015 Jaguar XKR-S instead of the XKR means trading in the latter’s heated and cooled front buckets for the former’s uniquely-stitched, heated-but-not-cooled sport seats. They look great, but I was continually reminded of the raised seam running along middle of the seat every time I sat down in the car. That being said, during a 750 mile road trip I emerged fresh and rested from the XKR-S’ cockpit in large part due to their supportive character
While the Jaguar might offer vestigial rear seats, an attempt to access the rear of the car simply to attach a small camera saw me contorted and trapped like a pretzel in a tennis ball tube. You can definitely cram an adult back there for the briefest of trips – I did so on multiple occasions – but it’s better to use them as a makeshift parcel shelf. The XKR-S' secondary accommodations might be pint-sized, but its generous cargo area certainly isn’t: lifting its rear hatch reveals just under 12 cubic feet of storage space, which is amongst the best in the luxury coupe segment.
2015 Jaguar XKR-S Review: Features and Controls
- The 2015 Jaguar XKR-S no longer offers adaptive cruise control.
It might seem weird to de-content a car that is about to be discontinued, but that’s exactly what has happened with the disappearance of adaptive cruise control from the 2015 Jaguar XKR-S’ equipment list. It’s a feature you immediately notice as missing given the lofty area of the market where the grand touring car is positioned. One other let down inside the Jaguar is its touchscreen interface, which offers a crowded, difficult to parse screen that repeatedly returns to the home menu from the Audio selection screen, for example, unless you are regularly pushing on-screen icons. Conversely, the car’s stereo sounds quite good even over the roar of the XKR-S’ monster engine, although I missed the ability to stream audio over Bluetooth. There aren’t a lot of gadgets to play with inside the coupe which plays more for a traditional luxury audience than the tech-seeking crowd, a stance I never found to be a problem during my time with the car.
2015 Jaguar XKR-S Review: Safety and Ratings
- The 2015 Jaguar XKR-S no longer offers a forward collision warning system.
The removal of the 2015 Jaguar XKR-S’ adaptive cruise control feature has meant the concomitant absence of last year’s forward collision warning systems, leaving the luxury coupe without any active safety equipment to speak of. It does provide dual forward airbags and seat-mounted side airbags up front, but no side curtain airbags to protect passengers at any position. Electronic stability control and traction control are present and accounted for.
2015 Jaguar XKR-S Crash Test Ratings: The Jaguar XKR-S has not been crash tested by either the IIHS or the NHTSA.
2015 Jaguar XKR-S Review: Engines and Fuel Economy
- The 2015 Jaguar XKR-S does not make any changes to its drivetrain compared to the previous model year.
The 2015 Jaguar XKR-S makes use of the same supercharged, 5.0-liter V-8 engine as the XKR model, but it turns up the wick to produce 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque. This represents a full 50 additional horses when compared to the XKR, with which it also shares its six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel mileage ratings for the Jaguar are listed at an optimistic 15-mpg in city driving and 22-mpg on the highway. The truth, for me, lay somewhere in between, with the car offering consumption in the high teens during our time together. More modest driving habits would undoubtedly return a somewhat better result, but how likely is that with 550 reasons to put the pedal down sitting under the hood?2015 Jaguar XKR-S
2015 Jaguar XKR-S Review: Driving Impressions
One would expect a car as powerful and performance-oriented as the 2015 Jaguar XKR-S to offer a ride more punishing than posh, but this is simply not the case: with the coupe in its normal driving mode, the vehicle’s suspension system is remarkably docile and willing to absorb, rather than transmit, harsher aspects of the road surface. This is in keeping with Jaguar’s solid reputation for building cars that shine in daily use or, as in the case of my time with the XKR-S, on extended road trips. I never felt myself being beaten down by the coupe even after pulling five hour stints behind the wheel, which is not something one could state about every comparably-priced luxury sports car.
The best part about the Jaguar XKR-S, however, is that if you do want to kick out the jams and unleash the beast within, the automobile is more than happy to oblige. Certainly no slouch when hammered hard under any circumstances, activating the XKR-S’ ‘dynamic mode’ by way of a console-mounted button opens up a secondary set of valving inside its exhaust system and makes you feel as though you have suddenly punched in a pair of afterburners located just behind your head. The Jaguar offers a glorious soundtrack, a paean to an era of conspicuous internal combustion that is slowly slipping into the past, and I love the car for it.
With the transmission in Sport mode and the vehicle’s traction control system set to ‘Track,’ there’s even more fun to be had. Dropping a gear by way of the vehicle’s paddle shifters elicits what in some cars might be a blip of the throttle, but in the XKR-S amounts to a staccato burst of high caliber gunfire which is best enjoyed when zooming through a tunnel or barreling next to a concrete retaining wall. Launching all 550 horses in the least dramatic way possible requires the complete absence of any electronic nannies in favor of human throttle management, but this car is undeniably fast: at the drag strip I was able to repeatedly turn in passes of 12.8 @ 119 miles per hour, and that trap speed indicates that much lower ETs are in the cards if traction can be found. I can only imagine how much smoother and more rapid this car would be if it were outfitted with the eight-speed automatic unit from the smaller Jaguar F-Type, as its existing six-speed seems at times to strain from the effort of transmitting its full might to the ground.
The 2015 Jaguar XKR-S is a great cruiser, and its straight-line speed is the definition of ballistic. When the roads require more than a single hand on the wheel, however, the large coupe also manages a laudable performance, thanks to a sub-4,000 lbs curb weight (made possible by the extensive use of aluminum) that gives it a lightness of step in comparison to heavier cars like the BMW M6. The Jaguar is not the most honed track weapon one could desire, but then again, this is a GT that rises above expectations, not a pure sports car. To go too far in the 911 Turbo’s direction would risk exposing drivers to a more ragged, less refined experience when not on the track, and I think Jaguar has achieved the proper balance of potency and palatial comfort with the XKR-S.
2015 Jaguar XKR-S Review: Final Thoughts
The 2015 Jaguar XKR-S is an all-around winner, and I will be sad to see it go at the end of this model year. Few cars combine the personality and performance of this Jaguar with the kind of exclusive appeal that speaks to moneyed buyers who don’t want to see themselves coming and going on the way to work in the morning. It’s an individual choice in a sea of premium coupe conformity, and while the F-Type is a fine car in its own right it’s not quite a successor to the larger, more mature XKR-S. It seems unlikely that we’ll see a true replacement for this monument to class and tire smoke anytime soon, but I am hopeful that Jaguar will once again return to the GT well that it has drawn from so many times before and bring us yet another fantastic addition to the personal luxury landscape.
2015 Jaguar XKR-S Review: Pros and Cons
- Bad-boy styling with more than a touch of class
- Comfortable ride and interior
- Outstanding acceleration and horsepower
- Exhaust note to die for
- Relatively affordable
- Good amount of cargo space
- Six-speed automatic transmission not quite as smooth as it should be
- Infotainment/navigation system is dated
- No active safety gear to be had for 2015
- Rear seats an afterthought
Jaguar Canada supplied the vehicle for this review.