Our test car was a 2006 Jaguar XKR coupe, one of a limited number of Victory models released to commemorate Jaguar's successes in Trans-Am racing. In addition to the XKR's standard supercharged engine, four-piston-caliper Brembo brakes with cross-drilled, vented discs, Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS), and cosmetic distinction, the Victory package includes carbon-fiber interior trim in place of wood veneer, special soft-grain leather upholstery, distinctive badging, Bluetooth capability, 20-inch BBS wheels and matching high-speed tires, and a Momo gearshift knob. As in all XKRs, a DVD-based navigation system and Xenon HID headlamps are standard. At $88,495 including destination charge, it's not inexpensive, but in the manner of Jaguars from the beginning, it compares very well to the German and Italian competition.The 2006 Jaguar XKR's styling is pure Jaguar and most influenced by the E-Type, a.k.a. XK-E, of the 1960s. It's a timeless design that has aged well, and its aerodynamic cleanliness ensures stability and low wind noise at speed. The XKR has larger wheels and tires than the XK8, functional cooling louvers in the hood, a bright mesh grille at the front, and a small ducktail spoiler at the rear of the trunk lid. It does an admirable job of combining the contemporary look of high performance with timeless elegance.
Inside, the twin traits of luxury and performance continue. No manufacturer does burled-wood trim as well as Jaguar, and the standard XK models feature that material across the dashboard. But, befitting its role commemorating contemporary competition successes, the XKR Victory replaces wood with carbon fiber. It blends well with the overall design.
In front, excellent seats, power adjustable in every way but with idiosyncratic controls, are covered with soft leather and provide the expected comfort and long-distance support for the driver and the passenger. But don't expect to use the backseats for anything but packages, as legroom is nonexistent. The coupe does have plenty of trunk space for fast, light touring by two people.
The 2006 Jaguar XKR's age shows only in small interior details. A physical key is used for the ignition, although it is an unusual shape. The side windows operate with the one-touch-down feature but not up. CDs are played by a magazine-type changer in the trunk, which does not play MP3 CDs. There is a cassette deck but no MP3 player or iPod jack. Strangely enough, the cassette deck makes this car more easily adaptable to an MP3 player than newer cars with in-dash CD players.
The DVD-based navigation system, standard in all XK models, is no relic. It has a simple-to-use interface, and its screen, while a touch on the small side, is easy to see in all lighting, even with polarized sunglasses. Control is simple, via marked hard buttons to the sides of the screen--the cursor can be manipulated by means of a joystick button and zooming by a rocker switch. Destination entry is done by the usual one-letter-at-a-time, joystick-controlled method or from a point chosen on the map with the cursor. The rocker switch for scale control makes the latter method especially quick and easy.
The 2006 Jaguar XKR's navigation system can be programmed to display information in English (miles or kilometers), German, Italian, Spanish, and French. The usual points of interest--ATMs, gas stations, hotels, restaurants, and parking lots--can be displayed. Direction finding is typical, and the system will recalculate directions relatively quickly if the suggested route is not followed or if a turn is missed. On the downside, it can take a while to get a fix on the GPS satellites, particularly at start-up, and the display of street names is seemingly random, with major thoroughfares not named while smaller streets are. There is voice guidance but no voice-recognition data entry. Bluetooth mobile-phone connectivity is part of the Victory package.With its luxury appointment and comfort, the 2006 Jaguar XKR can seem less a sports car than a land-bound executive jet, especially when the accelerator pedal is pressed hard. Then there's the noticeable whine from the Eaton supercharger that sits atop the 4.2-liter DOHC, 32-valve AJ-V-8 engine, which produces 390 horsepower at 6,000rpm and 399 pound-feet of torque at 3,500rpm. It sounds like a jet on a runway, and the big cat's acceleration reinforces that impression. It's progressive, and it doesn't get into its stride until seriously antisocial speeds. At wide-open throttle, there is no question as to why the cat's-head hood emblem is nicknamed the growler. Zero-to-60 time is 5.2 seconds, with top speed electronically limited to 155mph. Most people considering a car such as this won't be too concerned about fuel economy, but with an EPA rating of 16mpg in the city and 23mpg on the highway, as well as an average of 17mpg in our driving, it is better than the exotics.