Buyer’s Guide: Jaguar’s Latest Drop Top Combines Style and Class

The high-end automaker lets the cat out of the bag and we like what we see

 

Drop top dream machine (Image: JeffCars.com)

2011 JAGUAR XKR CONVERTIBLE

  • MSRP: $103,000 (Base price)
  • Engine/Horsepower: 5.0-liter, 8-cylinder/510
  • Fuel Mileage: 15-city/22-hwy
  • Highlights: 19-inch wheels; an electronic parking brake; a push-button starter; steering wheel mounted shift paddles; 16-way power memory leather front seats; a heated steering wheel; heated and a/c front seats; power folding canvas top; a touch-screen navigation system; Bi-Xenon headlights; a 525-watt audio system with Satellite radio; Bluetooth compatible
  • Competition: BMW 6-Series Convertible, Maserati GrandCabrio Sport and Mercedes SL Class (roadster)

WHAT’S NEW:

Since the sporty, luxurious convertible was reworked in 2010, this year’s model is basically a carryover. The only new addition to the extensive equipment list is Jaguar’s Platinum Coverage, which includes five years (or 50,000 miles) of complimentary scheduled maintenance on brake pads and disc replacements, oil and brake fluid changes and windshield wiper blade replacements and bumper-to-bumper warranty, as well as yearround roadside assistance.

PROS:

Inside the Jaguar, the vehicle exudes luxury, with its handcrafted stitched leather interior surrounded by the Burl Walnut veneer to its slick-looking rotary-dial electronic shift lever. In last year’s model, the XKR stepped up its game, substituting the conventional shift gear lever for an easy-to-use rotating knob. In fact, when I turned the vehicle off, the vehicle electronically placed itself in park. That’s right! No shift gear lever exists in this cat.

The true lap of luxury (Image: Jaguar)

Furthermore, to match the smooth-riding wildcat’s aggressive look and power, Jaguar added a new active exhaust system to the XKR last year that let’s everyone within earshot know what’s under the hood every time you step on the gas. Yes, this is one kitty that shows out on demand!

Moreover, with the standard 16-way power, three-position memory front seats, it was easy to find a comfortable seating position, especially in the butter-soft heated (and ventilated) front seats, which were a welcome addition during Georgia’s warm days and cool evenings, when I put the top down during my test drive. And, you won’t be disappointed with the audio system whether the top is up or down, it’s one of the best factory installed radios we’ve experienced in a drop top.

(Image: JeffCars.com)

CONS:

I was actually disappointed that a $100,000 automobile didn’t offer a back-up camera. Yet, to Jaguar’s credit, they offered their signature Front and Rear Park Control, with graphic designs and audible alerts. Although, it’s just not the same as being able to visually see what’s lurking in the rear. For a luxury car in this price range, a back-up camera should be standard equipment.

Moreover, I was surprised that Jag doesn’t offer this convertible in a hardtop. I can only imagine how this would change the appearance of this vehicle.

FINAL VERDICT:

This vehicle is all about details. From the leather and chrome rotating gear selector, to the suede cloth sun visors with a (parking) ticket holder, to the suede cloth headliner and vented hood louvers, to the soft grain leather door trim panels and instrument panel fascia, the British handcrafted automobile left no stone unturned as it relates to luxurious perks. Yes, there is no other brand on the market today that says class like a Jag, especially the supercharged convertible I tested.

Other than the missing features I noted earlier, this is undoubtedly one of the best premium priced convertibles on the market today. Now, if 510 horses isn’t enough power to tickle your fancy, at this month’s Geneva International Auto Show, a 550-horsepower XKR-S coupe was introduced. It’s slated for the U.S. release later this year as as a 2012 model. The vehicle is expected to zoom from 0-to-60 in 4.2 seconds. I’m not sure if the S-model will be available on the convertible but with the extra horses, expect a higher price tag.

Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com.

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