Going head-to-head
Jaguar XKR
Characteristics
BMW 6 Series
186.6
Length
190.2
81.5
Width
73
52
Height
54.1
108.3
Wheelbase
109.4
59.2 and 59
Track
NA
3,924
Weight
3,814
4.2-liter V8
Engine
4.8-liter V8

No question the XKR is a head-turner. The first time I pulled into a parking garage with the Jag, it elicited a reaction from the normally jaded attendant who is accustomed to seeing hundreds of cars daily. “Whoa. That looks like a supercar!” was how he summed it up.

Well, the Jag didn’t just look like a supercar. With a supercharged 4.2-liter V8, the sports coupe has rocketlike acceleration away from stop lights and down entry ramps. It certainly isn’t your grandfather’s tame luxury mobile. Good thing it has stability and traction control. With 420 hp up front and rear-wheel drive, it’s tempting to get frisky around corners and give the Jag enough juice to break loose the back end.

If you think the XKR sounds like a fun car to drive, you’re right. The top end is electronically limited to 155 mph. You can get to that speed in a hurry using the paddle shifters on the steering column which let you take over from the six-speed automatic. The aluminum-bodied car can hit 60 mph in under 5 sec. Its computer-controlled active suspension adjusts the damping on MacPherson-like struts to firm-up the ride at high speeds, and makes it more forgiving as you slow down to take potholes. Steering is tight. The car goes where you aim it and handles corners without any body roll we could discern.

Of course, the Jag is no Prius on gas mileage. It’s rated at 15/23 mpg for city/highway driving and takes 91-octane gas.

The interior of the Jag is something to see. To say it has a lot of leather doesn’t do the car justice. This is most sumptuous soft-grained leather I’ve seen in a long time. The leather is part of a $2,220 interior upgrade that includes 16-way power-adjustable leather seats, leather on the instrument panel, doors, center console, and a special finish on aluminum interior panels. Even the steering wheel has heaters. Trim is finished in a walnut veneer.

Many of the entertainment and climate controls are in a touch-screen on the dash that is part of the DVD navigation system. They are relatively easy to operate once you get a feel for them.

There were some other interesting standard features on the Jag. Adaptive front lighting better illuminated corners, and the xenon headlamps had their own power washers. Obstacle sensors in the rear warn you if obstacles such as a curb or a fire hydrant are in view as you back up

Alas, the XKR is a car most of us can only dream about. The $87,700 suggested retail price rose to $98,275 with the special interior package, adaptive cruise control, a $2,200 option that lets you stay a fixed distance back from the car in front of you; a premium sound package at $1,875, and 20-in. wheels at $5,000.

The only real gripe we had with the Jag was that the view out the back is limited, a common feature of sporty coupes. But judging by the comments we see in online forums, most XKR owners don’t mind the rear view and are pretty happy with their car. I would be too if I could afford one. — Leland Teschler