We believe that Gran Turismo coupes are the perfect car class. Combining the elegance and comfort of a luxury limousine with the power and performance of the thoroughbred sports car, GT is, really, the only proper way to travel. Designed to help you jump continents almost as fast as if you would take the plane, Gran Turismo coupes are fast, exclusive, expensive, and desirable machines. Unfortunately, that puts them beyond the reach of average car enthusiasts and into the dream car category for most of us. However, through the magic of depreciation, you might be able to own one of those fantastic machines, and today, we will tell you what you need to know about one of the most elegant grand tourers of the late `90s and early `2000s – the Jaguar XKR.
Aston Martin Connection
Even though the Jaguar XK models and Aston Martin DB7 are clearly not the same cars, both proud British GTs were built on the same platform. The reason is simple; back in the early `90s, when development started, Ford was the owner of both companies, and to cut the costs insisted on using the same chassis architecture and much of the components. Although those two models don’t use the same engines or design and the Aston was first to be revealed, DB7 and XK Jaguar have many interchangeable parts.
The regular Jaguar XK8 was introduced in 1996 and its top of the line, performance version debuted in 1998. The XKR was powered with a 4.0-liter V8 engine equipped with a supercharger which delivered 370 HP and 387 lb-ft of torque. In 2004, the XK range was restyled, and the XKR model got the 4.2-liter V8 developing 400 HP and 408 lb-ft of torque. With 0 to 60 mph times of just over 5 seconds and a top speed electronically limited to 155 mph, the XKR was a very competent cruiser.
Today, you can find those numbers in the latest hot hatches, but for the late `90s standards, this was exceptional. Of course, XKR was also equipped with performance suspension, bigger brakes, and better steering than the regular XK8 coupe. The early XKR models were equipped with 5-speed automatic, but from 2003, all cars had 6-speed automatic transmission. Regardless of the version, the manual wasn’t available.
The first-generation Jaguar XKR was a well-engineered car, but it wasn’t without its share of problems, among which the biggest one was an issue with Nikasil-covered cylinder walls. The XKR had an all-aluminum engine, and Jaguar decided to cover the cylinder walls with advanced material called Nikasil. During the `90s, Jaguar was one of several performance car manufacturers do to since Nikasil proved to be excellent material with low friction capabilities, which allowed the engine to reach high rpm and more power. This material was first used on racing engines and inspired manufacturers to use it on production cars. However, there was a problem.
Petrol with a high amount of sulfur can cause the formation of sulphuric acid, which quickly destroys the fine layer of Nikasil inside the engine. The result is loss of compression, abnormal oil consumption, blue smoke, and, ultimately, total engine failure. This issue was especially common with export models that used fuel with a high concentration of sulfur or with cars that have been driven short distances and rarely reached the full working temperature. Jaguar had listened to complains from the customers and installed steel cylinder wall linings from 2000 onwards, which pretty much solved the problem.
If you want to know how to tell what cars have Nikasil and what cars have a steel-lined engine, just look at the VIN number. If the vehicle has a six-digit sequence at the end of the VIN number, it means it has a Nikasil block. If a particular example has a five-digit sequence, it means it has a steel-lined block.
The Jaguar XKR debuted in 1998 and sold through 2006, during which time, exactly 23,556 cars were made. This means that XKR is undoubtedly not rare but also not an overly common car. Interestingly, the convertible model is significantly more common with almost 14,000 examples than the coupe with just 9000 cars. If you want the full GT experience for attacking the derestricted sections of the Autobahn, maybe you should choose the coupe, and if you wish a seaside cruiser, then the convertible is a better choice. During its production run, Jaguar introduced a couple of special versions like XKR 100 or XKR Silverstone, but they were all trim packages with no performance enhancements.
Compared to some other similar models, Jaguar XKR is a pretty affordable proposition starting at around 8,000 on the used-car market. However, you should always go for later models with a more powerful engine, 6-speed automatic, which is better and far more durable than early models. Those cars are over 10,000 pounds, and for 15,000, you can find low-mileage and well-preserved examples. Of course, you should know that XKR is known for being thirsty, and maintenance is a bit more expensive, but this is something that can be expected from such a vehicle.
Should you buy it?
If you have always dreamed of a luxury GT in which you can jump and blast to French Riviera, then the XKR is the car for you. For a price of an entry-level compact hatchback, you can fulfill your automotive dreams and have a cool weekend cruiser. Of course, XKR is not an everyday car by any means. It is unpractical, thirsty, and doesn’t feel at home sitting in congested traffic. This is a proper open-road machine, a car that is designed for cruising at high speed and covering vast distances in comfort. And this is precisely how it should be used. If your ideal weekend scenario includes high-speed blasts to the countryside or abroad, then start browsing the ads immediately.