Quick Spin: Jaguar XKR-S

The details

Price: From $340,000 plus on-road costs

Vitals 5.0-litre supercharged V8, 404kW, 680Nm, six-speed automatic.

What does it say about me?

That you think too much grunt is not nearly enough. This is the fastest series production car the leaping cat has ever made.

What doesn't it say about me?

You are the pipe-and-slippers buyer who lets Jeeves do the driving.

Who else is buying it?

Jaguar Australia says the XKR-S is stealing customers from other European supercar makers.

What colours does it come in?

There are only four to choose from - the basic black or white and stand-out colours, French racing blue and Italian racing red. Surprisingly there's no British racing green.

If it were a movie star, who would it be?

Robbie Coltrane. Big, booming voice and plenty of presence but an unlikely leading man.

Why would I buy it?

To stand out from the crowd of German and Italian sports cars. And the engine is a gem. Plenty of power and torque plus an engine note that sounds more like a World War II fighter plane than a car.

Will it let me down?

No more than any other exotic sports car. The basic underpinnings of the XK are getting towards the end of their life cycle, so you'd hope the kinks are ironed out by now.

Does it cost too much?

Well, it's more than $100,000 more than a XKR so it's expensive, even by Jaguar standards. Compared with its competitors (Aston Martin Vantage V12, Porsche 911 Turbo, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG), it has a price advantage.

Will I get a deal?

Nope. Jaguar Australia is keeping numbers limited, so it has no reason to cut a deal.

Is it safe?

In the right hands it is fine. But if you are inexperienced or too cocky there's more than enough grunt under the bonnet to get you into trouble, no matter how good the stability control is.

Will it get me noticed?

A guaranteed head-turner. If the looks don't grab you, the exhaust note will.

Any gadgets I can brag about?

The most brag-worthy gadget is the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine, which pumps out 404kW and 680Nm. As for technology, there is satellite navigation and you can plug your iPod into the stereo.

How's the cabin ambience?

A nice blend of the sportiness you expect in a track car and the sophistication you expect in a Jaguar. It is shame the seats are so uncomfortable for taller drivers. The headrest isn't adjustable and digs into your back if you aren't jockey-sized. And unfortunately the rear seats are more parcel shelves than genuine accommodation.

What's the stereo like?

It is a 525-watt Bowers & Wilkins sound system that can make your ears bleed.

Does it go?

This machine goes and sounds like a rocket when it thunders along a straight road.

Does it like corners?

It depends. If they're fast and flowing the XKR-S laps them up, but through tighter corners and over bumps or corrugations it isn't nearly as composed. The steering is too light and vague for a hard-edged sports car. There's also a lot of power to contend with, which can force the traction control to work overtime and ultimately dulls the overall experience.

What about bumps?

The ride is firm. But you expect that in a sports car. Jaguar finds a balance between comfort and performance on its sporty cars. The XKR-S is no different.

What about service stations?

The label says 12.3L/100km. Lean on the accelerator with any conviction and you could double that.

Would you buy one?

No, for me the XKR-S doesn't really live up to its billing as a hard-edged sports car; it's more of a grand tourer. If I wanted a sporty Jaguar I'd rather wait until the C-X16 concept makes it to production. The spiritual successor to the E-type, it's the Jaguar fans have been waiting a long time for. Its release better not disappoint.

The spin

''The ultimate expression of Jaguar's sports car strategy; offering intelligent performance with everyday driveability.''

The translation

It's got a loud engine and a big, lairy wing on the back.