2012 Jaguar XKR-S Convertible

The color scheme on this XKR S is spot-on: British racing green with a black convertible top and shiny black wheels over saddle brown leather seats with charcoal trim. It's modern yet traditional -- an aesthetic that Jaguar manages to create in every one of its vehicles. And as good as it looks, it sounds even better. The engine produces pure music and the exhaust bark is totally addictive. After I heard it the first time pulling away from a stop, I began timing the lights to experience it as many times as possible. Stop, accelerate, bark, repeat.

Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms

Jennifer Misaros stole my theme: the coolest thing about the Jaguar XKR-S convertible is its incredible exhaust note. It actually sounds like firecrackers are detonating if you downshift at high revs. The other cool thing about the XKR-S is that it accelerates explosively and brakes beautifully if you want to drive it like a sports car, yet you also can just drive this Jag in a docile manner and it will behave exactly like a stock XK convertible, which is to say, like a grand tourer. The price you pay for the level of performance that the XKR-S provides over the marginally slower XKR is about $35K in dollar terms. In aesthetic terms, the price is some questionable bodywork. Check out the carbon fiber rear wing and the air scoops in the front fenders. Not the prettiest things, are they? Yeah, maybe you can live without the heavy-metal exhaust and "settle" for the 510-hp XKR. I know I could.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

I recall that the Jaguar XFR stood out at our Automobile of the Year track testing for its ridiculously burly exhaust note. It sounded more muscular than the Chevrolet Camaro SS and the Ford Mustang GT -- actual muscle cars. The XKR-S has a higher output version of the same 5.0-liter V-8, so it's no surprise that it sounds even more savage. That noise and the carbon fiber extremities seem entirely out of character for a premium British convertible. And yet, Jaguar somehow makes it work, as it always does. Much of the credit belongs with the interior, which deliberately avoids the brazen machismo of the exterior in favor of the warm opulence of tan and black leather and simple piano black trim. In fine Jaguar tradition, the ride is somehow smooth despite the twenty-inch wheels and steamroller Pirelli performance tires. As wild as this car looks and sounds, I can very easily imagine a wealthy professional driving to work without feeling ridiculous.

David Zenlea, Associate Editor

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