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The Baddest Jag Ever?

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On: Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 10:34AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

The Baddest Jag Ever?

For those of you old enough to remember the XJ220, you will recall that it is very hard to forget. It was literally the fastest car in the world for quite some time. Sleek, ungodly powerful, and a vision to behold (if you were so lucky to catch one standing still). However, as with all things, time marches on and progress is, of course, inevitable. It has taken nearly two decades, but the British feline company has finally built a better all-around performer than their legendary poster-child and that car is the 2012 XKR-S. 

It's okay to be a little skeptical about believing that such a legendary supercar could be outdone by some mass-production piece; we felt the same way for a while before objectively looking at the facts. Now granted, the XJ220 is still a faster car in terms of outright speed, so don't worry. The elder Jag does still hold an edge over the newer upstart, but the fact is that all in all, the new car outshines its grandfather by quite an impressive margin as an all-around performer. Let's start with the engine: A supercharged 5.0-liter V8 that produces a frightening 550-horsepower and 502-pound-feet of torque. That's eight more ponies and 27 more stump-pulling pound-feet than your 1990s hero. Unlike previous XKRs, the Roots-type blower on the XKR-S has been modified to whine less, and hand over most of the noise-making duties to the exhaust system. As with quite a few 500+ horsepower cars these days, manufactures are starting to understand that when the owner of one of these badass rockets hits the go-pedal, they want to hear what they paid for. So Jaguar has built in an exhaust bypass flap to increase exhaust tone and resonance depending on the throttle position, which means going from civilized to scary is only a blip away at any point on the highway.

Jaguar wanted to build a car you could drive to the track in comfort, beat the hell out of for a few hours (impressing a few people while you did so), and then drive back home in style, and that's exactly what they accomplished. The XKR-S has firmer spring rates and sits about 10 millimeters lower than a standard XKR, which makes the ride firm, but by no means jarring. Thanks to a lightweight aluminum chassis, an active damping system, big twenty-inch Vulcan wheels shod in (255/35/R20 front 295/35/R20 rear) Pirelli P-Zero rubber, and a recalibrated dynamic stability control system designed for the track, the XKR-S handles like a detuned race car instead of a more powerful luxury car. There is even a track setting for the usually intrusive and buzz-killing computer called TracDSC that commands the electronic nannies to keep out of the way until the very last instant so as not to confuse a power slide with a spin out.

Now back to our comparison. If you boil it down to just numbers, then the XJ220 is your car. The XK weighs in at 3,865 pounds, about six hundred pounds heavier than the XJ, and as you might expect the XJ220 ekes out a 0-60 time a little quicker than the XK (3.8 seconds vs. 4.2 seconds). 0-100 nets the same type of result, with the XJ220 hitting the century mark in 8 seconds flat while the XKR-S gets there in 8.6 seconds. Top speed for the XJ220 was 217 mph while the new XKR-S can hit 186 mph on the top end. So, the XJ220 is in fact a faster car in terms of pure speed, but at what cost? The XJ220 was over $650,000 new and used examples (presuming you can find one of the only 281 models produced actually up for sale) are well into the 200-grand range, while a new XKR-S will run you $132,875.

Styling is subjective, but in one writer’s opinion the XJ220 is more attractive in profile only. The front of the XKR-S is much more aggressive and exciting than the minimalist XJ. The rear design of the XKR-S, with its carbon-fiber wing quad-exhaust and air splitter is in far contrast to that of the XJ220, which is one of the ugliest supercar afterthoughts this writer has ever seen. Interior is not even a comparison. The XKR-S holds you in its sumptuous cockpit like a king, while the XJ220's dashboard does not even measure up to a new Chevy Cobalt.

The fact of the matter is the XKR-S is 9/10s of the XJ220 in terms of all out speed, while providing exponentially more comfort and civility whenever you want it. While some may see the XJ220 production numbers as exclusivity, they are so low they almost qualify as unobtainable. So has the XJ220 been overthrown as king cat? Perhaps, that depends on how fast you want to go, and how you want to feel once you get there.

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dwalter | 10:40AM (Thu, Jul 21, 2011)

It's crazy that the XJ220 got those numbers with a (twin-turbo) V6!

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