It’s been no secret that the convertible hot rod coupes from Jaguar have been some of my favorite cars to drive.
Most recently I spent a week behind the wheel of the newest, baddest cat on the block, the XKR-S Convertible.
Jaguar released the R-S series to stand above the already improved “R”-designate cars and I would volunteer that the “S” implies spectacular as that is what I found my driving experience in the big kitty to be.
While the supercharged 550hp XKR-S in coupe form begs for track time, our tester convertible screamed “Road Trip” – and that is exactly what we did.
Big cat daddy, say “Howdy” to the Texas Hill Country.
Springtime in Texas means wildflowers and the best place to take in nature’s wonder in the Lone Star State is the Hill Country in Central Texas.
As incredible as the driving experience was, the roadside wonder was even better, and with the top down all of your senses are sent into overdrive.
Mother Nature is putting on quite a show this year thanks to favorable weather conditions this winter. The Hill Country (barely) survived horrible drought conditions last summer but you would not be able to tell that now.
Of course the king of the roadside attractions here in Texas is our state flower, the bluebonnet (Lupinus Texensis). Roadsides, hillsides and countrysides are bathed in blue thanks to proliferation of the spring bloom this year. And it is not alone. Along the way are plenty of other shades of the color wheel for a most spectacular showing.
Sure, the XKR-S is still a high-performance car and thanks to the winding, scenic roads of the Hill Country we were able to test out many of the vehicle’s great features for handling, stability and power – lots and lots of passing power when encountering vehicles struggling to keep up. A crack of the whip and this cat makes objects appear very smaller in the rearview mirrors.
The Jaguar XKR-S convertible looks very good sitting still such as during the moments when we visited the odd roadside winery or stopped to take a few snapshots of the natural show.
Thanks to the small rear seat area we were able to carry a few small bags containing snacks and cold drinks (and sunscreen which I should have used more of). I also carried a new Case Logic camera bag (more on that in a gear post later) and we had room for a couple of wine boxes in the trunk so that we could later enjoy some of what we tasted during our adventures.
Thanks to a generous (of sorts) 22 mpg highway we did not have to stop for fuel refills too often, although when we did it was for the higher-priced premium blend which is already well over four-bucks-a-gallon. And we were penalized in the fuel economy category every time we made our big cat roar (somewhere over four grand on the tach the exhaust baffles open up and the engine really howls although it may scare small animals and the faint-of-heart).
For as much driving as I did in one day the XKR-S and its luxury sport buckets did not disappoint. This was one of the most comfortable road trips I had ever taken – fatigue in the backside was non-existent which is more of a rarity these days.
For a car that has (nearly) everything and carries a pricetag of $145,000, I would have expected a couple more amenities – namely satellite radio and ventilated seats. Of the two, we would rarely have heard the radio during our top-down driving but the cooled seats would have been a nice touch in the Texas sun.
I never used the heated steering wheel and only one morning did I switch on the windshield heating elements to clear some condensation. The windscreen for the rearseat area was a blessing however and we utilized the nav system quite often while exploring the backroads of the Texas Hill Country.
For those of you who can, get yourselves to the area that is found west of Austin and north of San Antonio in the central part of the Lone Star State and say “Howdy” to the Hill Country. The wildflower season seems to have started early this year and is arriving in full splendor. For the ultimate experience get your hands on a convertible (and don’t forget the sunscreen). Weekdays are best as the weekends are especially crowded. Watch out for the sightseers and cyclists and those folks who insist on standing next to the traffic on a 70 mph country road to take pictures of their child in the flowers.