Jaguar XKR-S (2008)

Published: 15 April 2008

A ducktail spoiler, 20-inch wheels and more air ducts and scoops than an air-conditioned Monaco apartment… Is this the new Jaguar XKR-R? Our spies caught this prototype being piloted around the Nurburgring by Jag’s chassis specialists earlier today, leading to speculation that it could be the much-rumoured high-performance R version under development.

However, closer inspection reveals this is the XKR-S – the fastest Jaguar since the XJ220, with a derestricted top speed of 174mph. It’s a fettled and honed special edition version of the XKR that arrives in dealers in summer 2008. Only 200 will be built, all in coupe bodystyle. This car is a prototype undergoing final evaluation ahead of launch.

What’s new on the XKR-S?

The engine is untouched from the regular car, but they’ve kindly removed the 155mph limiter. How nice of them. That 420bhp 4.2 V8 will whisk you, your partner and two short friends or family members to 60mph in 4.9 seconds. Best not mention the 294g/km CO2 rating, though…

The special-edition XKR-S is distinguished from lesser XKs by – for Jaguar – the mother of all body kits, visible on this development car. There’s a new front splitter, a smattering of wire mesh, wider sidesills, that distinctive kicked-up tail spoiler and a new rear bumper and diffuser pack to improve the aero. Gigantic 20-inch rims complete the exterior makeover. Although this prototype is a light blue silver, production cars (as seen at the 2008 Geneva motor show) will all be in black metallic.

Jag is pitching the XKR-S as a gentleman’s GT: the sort of car that can be used every day, but also on long trips to the south of France or even the occasional track day. That’s why there are new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, and the CATS chassis system is recalibrated.

This isn’t just an everyday special edition, though. We can’t help noticing that the XKR-S prepares the way for next year’s XKR-R…

Click ‘Next’ to read more about the secret new XKR-RThe XKR-R will be seen in the middle of 2009 and will be the hardest, fastest Jaguar to date. Bearing in mind the S model pictured here will cost the thick end of £80k, don’t expect much change from £90k for the R.

It will herald the arrival of Jaguar/Land Rover’s new 5.0-litre V8 complete with direct-injection to lower CO2 and raise mpg. But in the XKR-R, it will feature supercharging to place the emphasis firmly on power: we hear this top XK will muster a substantial 500bhp.

It’s a significant engine this – we’ll also see it in the XF-R, the sportiest version of Jaguar’s new executive saloon. Naturally, the R mechanical spec will be accompanied by a suitably discrete but sporting body makeover; take the cues from this XKR-S and magnify, we hear.

The XK by numbers

Jaguar sells between 10-12,000 XKs a year and reports a richer sales mix of coupes in this generation of XK. ‘This is more of a sports coupe than the previous XK,’ said a spokesman. ‘That sold around 70:30 in favour of the convertible, especially in the US, whereas the new model is closer to 50:50.’

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet