Jaguar XKR Dynamic Convertible 2014 – Road Test

Is the Dynamic the run-out model that the Jaguar XK deserves?

I had the pleasure of a quick drive in my friend’s new XKR Dynamic. The Dynamic is one of two “run-out” special editions of the XK, and in this instance came in black, with black alloys, a black roof and boot-lid spoiler (you guessed it, also in black. I can see the attraction for many of the look of the car in this format, but it is not subtle and, to my eyes, ages what is a fundamentally alluring car – I suspect that that spoiler is the main spoiler here.

Inside, the XKR is nicely trimmed, with quality leather (black) and a nice wheel.  The dash is very familiar and not en vogue anymore, but is still attractive and sporting in nature. The infotainment and integration of phone, satnav, sound system, etc, is quite out of date, and my friend was bemoaning this as a step backwards from what he had been used to in the current generation XJ that he had traded in exchange. Still, all this is missing the point, I think, as this is a car that is not meant to be enjoyed for its CD player. Oh no.

XKR Interior

To drive, this car is a snarling, powerful, wild animal. The engine’s power and torque are such (quoted as 510 BHP and 460 lb/ft) that even the merest dab of the throttle pedal shoots the car forward with shocking alacrity. Be a bit enthusiastic entering a damp-surfaced roundabout and the rear end snaps away from you and you’ve got be quick with the wheel to catch and correct it.

The engine is smooth but emits a wall of sound as it seers up the rev-range, quickly reaching a point when the blare from the exhausts is all consuming – like the arrival of the apocalypse, one can here this car coming from miles away. On the over-run, it pops and bangs (loudly), and all the time I felt I was hanging on to it for dear life, like taking a tiger (perhaps that should be a jaguar) for a walk on a short leash.

Safe to say, I am not used to driving such a machine. The speed this car gathered and suddenly presented me with meant that my brain suddenly had to become super-alert, and the adrenaline flushed through my body at pace. This is part car – part extreme roller-coaster ride. After a few minutes, I started to adjust and try to drive with a little more delicacy, but it was really rather difficult.

The tone of the engine, the sensitivity of the throttle, and directness of the steering all brought out the bit of hooligan in me – it’s hard to resist, this XKR. And, I can’t remember much else about the car or the drive. I think the ride was hard, but well damped, and the handling fine, but there was a sense of the chassis grappling to keep up with the monster out front. I had forgotten (until starting to write this piece) that it was a soft top, because it just did not have chance to register in my mind. All in all, a laugh-and-whoop-out-loud experience, a rush, a chain-saw buzz.

A nagging thought is as to whether this is what a Jaguar should be. Is it a bit too uncouth? This is what I imagine one of those mad, late-model TVRs would have felt like, which in turn brings to mind some rather unflattering comments from LJKS about those cars. It also resonates with a statement made by a senior engineer in the doomed MGR enterprise to the effect that “we can take MG and make it raw”, which I took as a rather over-wrought and, therefore, desperate intent to overcome the firm’s twee and non-dynamic image.

I fear a little that JLR feels it has to do the same with Jaguar, and is still trying too hard. I saw an XFR-S – I think that’s what they call it, it’s the model above the R – in a car park the other day and thought it over-accessorised in racing blue, big tail spoiler, flared sill-covers and aggressive front bumper/ valance; like an 80’s Vauxhall Cavalier that had been lavished with the latest and best addenda from a Max Power catalogue of that decade. I don’t condemn such things per se, but on a Jaguar? Really? Where’s the grace, the poise, the touch of reserve?

I liked the XKR Dynamic a lot, it was brilliant fun, but I’m not sure it’s the run-out model that the XK, or Jaguar itself, deserves.

Author: S.V. Robinson

Life long interest in cars and the industry

5 thoughts on “Jaguar XKR Dynamic Convertible 2014 – Road Test”

  1. SV. The TVR connection seems right and that seems to be where Jaguar’s sports models are going. From the F-Type reviews I’ve read it seems that the higher-powered models are closer to the TVR ethos than anything else currently offered from a large manufacturer. Is that a good thing?

    I read a review of the TVR Cerbera in a classics magazine a couple of years ago and was shocked at the discrepancy between the numbers produced and those still on the road. Have the rest all been stuffed through hedges and walls by the people that TVR said preferred driving by the seat of their pants? Certainly the one I saw a few years ago, parked at right angles against a brick wall in York Road in Wandsworth (a perfectly straight 30mph road) seemed testament to something not quite right.

    Of course, today’s Jags are more sophisticated and have the electronic aids that Peter Wheeler felt his customers didn’t want or need. So they will take more care of you, but they can still become a handful. As F-Type sales soar (hopefully) are we going to read of an abnormally high number of accidents on slippery roads.

    In answer to your question of what a Jaguar should be, I tend to agree that there should be a certain grace and elegance, even a touch of softness, to a true Jag. But I suppose that Jaguar would point out that most of their new markets have no such preconceptions and that, as long as they can produce a distinctive and desirable product, which the XKR was up to a point, and the F-Type seems to be even more so, then they are happy.

  2. The traits we associate with Jaguars – comfort, poise, quietness and a certain visual restraint are very much the legacy of Bob Knight – Jaguar’s long-time Development Engineer, Engineering Chief and eventual Managing Director. It does appear that his view of what a Jaguar should look like, behave and sound like has been consigned to the distant past.

    But then, calling your next Jaguar model F-Pace suggests to me JLR’s current brand custodians would not have been to the good Mr. Knight’s taste anyway. Nor indeed would the car itself, I’d venture.

    Anyway, nice piece SV.

  3. Thanks for that. I feel like I have an idea what sort of car we are talking about. I often read reviews and come away not really any wiser than before I started.
    Some questions: one,the ashtray. How was that? Was there one?
    And more seriously, about the interior. What is it about the appearance that is dated? I can´t tell any more when if comes to recent designs. I can dimly see some interiors of about a decade or so in age look “period” but when I read that something in production is looking dated I often can´t fathom which aspect is causing the problem. I think my problem is that I look for function and craftsmanship and ignore “style”.If the first two are good I accept the last one as being something on its own terms.

    1. I was very deliberate in my wording about the interior and the dash in particular. I rather like the dash, but it does not reflect some of the current vogues. To be specific, the touch-screen is rather small, positioned lower in the dash than has become the currency in “the Germans”, and is integrated rather than standing proud like a tablet, or with the facility to rise out of the dash superstructure. The form and organisation of the numerous work-spaces are placed in groups that are more vertical than horizontal – giving a quite “blocky” look to the dash. Again, the current fashion is for sweeping swathes in the horizontal axis to contain the controls. Finally, there is no “controller” for the infotainment, it all happens via the touch-screen. These factors could all be seen as “ageing” the dash.

      This matters nothing to me, but for some prospects in this part of the market, being en-vogue is a vital element in the actual purchasing consideration. For example, perhaps my favourite dash on any car that I have owned (i.e. and therefore had to live with) was that on my ’06 model year Subaru Legacy. In many respects, it was modelled on the 5 series twice removed from the current version, and all the better for it, although criticised by commentators at the time for starting life with an out of date look and feel.

    2. Oh – ashtray? I doubt one could hold, let alone control a cigarette, or cigar, or pipe (surely a cigar in this case!?) whilst steering this beast. No idea, no recollection; like I said, I even failed to realise the car was a “soft-top”.

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