If the only thing that kept you from placing an order for the hot 2012 Jaguar XKR-S was the fact it was offered only in hardtop form, you now have reason to fire a thank-you note off to the folks in Coventry. The automaker announced it will build a handful of 2012 XKR-S Convertibles, the first of which will be shown this week at the 2011 Los Angeles auto show.
Cliched though it may sound, the new XKR-S Convertible is little more than an XKR-S Coupe with no fixed roof in place. Every single cosmetic bauble bolted on to the XKR-S coupe transfers over to the convertible: the front end is given a tall, aggressive front fascia, sweeping front air intakes, a large chin spoiler, and slender air ducts just below the hood's forward edge. Flared side sills help build character, as does a muscular rear valence panel, which bears some resemblance to that used on XKRs built with the optional Speed Pack. Jaguar's release declares the wild rear wing "unique," but the spoiler -- which features a carbon fiber insert -- is carried over from the coupe.
So too are the mechanical bits beneath that menacing skin. Though the direct-injection, supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 is largely identical to that used in the XKR, some clever programming tweaks allowed engineers to coax considerably more power out of it. As a result, the XKR-S offers 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque, increases of 40 hp and 41 lb-ft , respectively, over the XKR. A six-speed automatic is the sole transmission offered, but as we discovered while flinging the XKR-S Coupe about in Spain, the gearbox is quite good, and happy to "crack off shifts with a hammer-like punch." Also included in the package is an active differential, which uses an electric motor to lock the rear wheels. On the coupe, we found it "dialed in the perfect amount of lockup to keep the car neutral and balanced."
XKR-S convertibles receive the same suspension tuning used on their coupe siblings - a feat possible, Jaguar says, because the XK platform was engineered from square one to incorporate the rigidity needed to lop the top off. If so, expect the convertible to receive new rear suspension geometry, increased spring rates (28 percent stiffer up front; 32 percent out back), and a ride height that's four-tenths of an inch lower than the XKR. We also can't forget those massive black 20-inch wheels: not only do they look stunning, but they also lend the car an incredible amount of grip.
Performance metrics for the 2012 XKR-S Convertible are still forthcoming, but Jaguar claimed the coupe could leap from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds before racing to a top speed of 186 mph. Unfortunately, you'll likely need to act just as quickly in order to secure one for your personal collection. Despite an estimated MSRP of $138,000 - nearly $6000 more than the coupe - Jaguar is only offering 25 examples for sale in the U.S. Much like the 2012 XKR-S Coupe, expect that allotment to quickly sell out.