This big cat’s wild and wicked – but so is the price

Price: £103,430
Engine capacity: 5.0-litre supercharged V8
Top speed (mph): 186  (electronically limited)
0-60 mph (seconds): 4.2
Fuel economy (mpg): 23
CO2 emissions (g/km): 292

If you like your wheels with more power than grip and enjoy the wind in your hair, then the new Jaguar  XKR-S convertible is the car for you. The drop-top version of the  manufacturer’s most powerful sports car gets 550 horsepower and a tweaked and stiffened sports  suspension to play with, plus an  aggressive body kit and carbon-fibre spoiler for you to look at. That’s enough to satisfy even the highest octane of petrol heads, so what’s the catch? You’ll need just over £100k to part one from the hands of a of Jaguar. That’s a lot of cash and begs the question; can a Jag ever be worth such a huge sum?

The heart of the XKR-S is its 5.0-litre V8 engine which roars, groans and then whines with delight as you work the flappy-paddle gearbox up to the red line. The power it delivers is simply staggering and testing it on the bendy lanes of Berkshire’s stockbroker belt during the wettest June on record certainly gave me some squeaky bum moments. Feathering the throttle gently is essential to avoid impromptu pruning of the area’s well-maintained privet hedges and caution is required coming out of bends unless you want to panel-beat a passing banker’s Bentley. In the dry it goes like a rocket and grips solidly to the road, but in the wet it struggles to find traction to make the use of its conveyor belt of power. It’s only off the public roads that you can truly open up the R-S and see what it’s made of without feeling like you’re the warhead of an out of  control Tomahawk missile.

Simply put, it’s monstrously fast and will collect speeding tickets faster than a quick-witted accountant collects tax dodges. Don’t get me wrong, the XKR-S is a wonderful  car and because it was originally  designed as convertible, not as a coupe, the handling is agile and  responsive, the ride is smooth and the brakes are sharp. It’s just that there are so few places where you can push it to its limits without the fear of becoming raspberry jam.

Not that this will bother many buyers though. Jaguar is booming as rich Chinese buyers and the rest of the global 1 per cent flock to its blend of hi-tech engineering prowess and performance wrapped in a luxury blanket. The XKR-S is its flagship and shows that British factories  (albeit Indian-owned ones) can match what the best of the rest of the world has to offer.

There are some niggles though. The dash is plasticky and rather dated and some of the dials and switches look like they came from a mid-Noughties Saab. My biggest complaint, though, is that the six-speed automatic gearbox lags some way behind the best of Jaguar’s rivals.

When the sun comes out though, the R-S is magical and its wicked side  endearing. Perfect for cruising along sedately taking in the world, you just have to stop yourself from entertaining the madness too often. Truth be told though, you could save £30k, get the standard XK, enjoy it just as much and still have more power than you could eve user. And next year the new F-Type launches with a price tag expected to be just over half of the XKR-S. Still not attainable for most of us in the 99 per cent, but the dream will be just that little bit nearer.

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