First drive: Jaguar XKR-S

* Performance Jag XKR-S tested * 174mph top speed * Costs £80,097...

04 June 2008

First drive: Jaguar XKR-S

Chasing sales dollars in the US meant that Jaguar had to compromise the sports car potential of its XKR, as it needed to err on the side of comfort rather than out-and-out sportiness.

Yet what a compromise it conjured - it successfully married civility and a cosseting ride with the XKR's lightning performance.

Good as it is, though, Jaguar's engineers have now been allowed the chance to create the sports car they wanted - and so, from their alchemy, comes the special-edition XKR-S.

The XKR-S is fitted with a barking exhaust, lower, firmer suspension, faster steering and brakes thatll stop you quicker than hitting a vault door.

To be honest, the bodykit is slightly suspect, but although its a bit on the chavvy side, the extra spoilers, diffusers and the bespoke engineering tweaks have a dramatic effect on the XKs handling.

Downforce is massively increased to aid high-speed stability - top speed has been pushed to 174mph - while the immense grip, fantastic poise and communicative steering slingshot the jet-black XKR-S around hairpins without so much as a peep from the uprated tyres.

Inside, everything is as civilised and tastefully styled as youd expect. The black leather interior is complemented by contrasting ivory stitching, while piano black veneer dashboard panels and charcoal Alcantara headlining give the desired premium look.

It even smells suitably expensive.

Drawbacks? Well, not many. Those wide tyres generate some extra road noise, but you can always drown that out with the superb Bowers and Wilkins stereo.

Of course, no amount of high-fidelity will drown out your bank managers screams when you tell him the S costs £10,000 more than the already magic XKR.

• The XKR-S is yours for £80,097 (there are only £200), and it's on sale now.