Thursday, August 26, 2010

Master blaster: Jag coupe lights up the road

Sacramento, California – Sliding down into the cockpit of the low-slung 2011 Jaguar XKR Coupe was no picnic for my 6-foot-4 frame.

But once I was in, I knew I had arrived in the seat of power.

That would be 510 blissful, growling horses put out by 5-liter supercharged V-8. Starting the Jag woke up the neighbors four doors down, but I cooled it on the way out of our zoned-for-residential area. Good thing.

Jaguar advertises a time of 4.6 seconds to make the zero-to-60 miles per hour trip.

And that might be a conservative boast based on what I was experiencing behind the wheel. Mashing the accelerator brought instant G-force body load and the kind of oomph one associates with a purpose-built racer.

Auto reviewers like to say a sporty car has pop, zip or gusto. Those words don’t really cut with this Jag.

The XKR Coupe has rip, and lots of it.

Not only is performance extreme, the XKR is tuned to take steep hill climbs like a bighorn sheep, and it sticks on hard corners like a monorail from hell.

A turn-on? Oh my, yes!

And it looks the part: a classic low-riding bullet with hood sculpting that looks sporty and touts the supercharger under the skin. Interior comfort was surprisingly nice. The suspension was sporty stiff but not to the point where every road imperfection was sent up my spine. That’s not easy to engineer, so kudos to the Jag boys for that one.

Interior luxury was entirely appropriate for a car in the $100,000 ballpark, and the controls were easy to reach and use. The spin knob gear shifter is a little strange, but you get used to it.

Front seats were comfortable, and the back seats were, well, there. Frankly, I did not care even a little bit about the prospective comfort of back seat passengers, because I was having too good a time driving the car.

Want comfort? Get your own ride.

Some XKR critics are knocking Jaguar for not changing the vehicle’s look, and this is a mystery to me. These are the same folks who whine when Chevy tweaks the Corvette even a little bit every few years. Go figure.

This XKR is all Jag. Leave it alone.

My recent streak of odd experiences with Sirius Satellite Radio continued in the XKR Coupe and amounted to the only negative experience in the car. Something happened that I’ve never experienced behind the wheel: The radio subscription ran out WHILE A TUNE WAS PLAYING ON THE RADIO!

That’s it pal. You want more? Pay up.

Damndest thing I’ve ever seen.

Luckily, the XKR’s race-worthy performance was providing me with all the entertainment I needed.

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