When PetrolBlog sent Rob Griggs-Taylor out to test the overlooked Jaguar Land Rover products a little while ago, we knew he'd probably take advantage of the cakes and coffee provided. What we didn't know was that he would take advantage of the hospitality by borrowing another Jaguar-provided product...
Zero to sixty in four point two seconds.
As people who are keen on, perhaps even passionate about, motorised cars, that statistic is important. When I was young(er) my friends and i would gather round the hallowed Top Trumps pack ready to guess which of the stats would be sufficiently good to win the other players cards. "Top speed 193mph" one would intone, and all the other players knew that he was holding that Mayfair of top speed cars, the Lamborghini Countach.
We challenged each other variously on horsepower, weight (I still don't know if heavier or lighter was supposed to be the winner), number of cylinders, top speed and acceleration, a statistic where lower was unarguably better.
Which brings us back to zero to sixty in four point two seconds. As an anodyne stat it's certainly impressive, especially for a car. But what does it really feel like to drive the Jaguar XKR-S Convertible?
At the beginning the car sits, just a slight shiver through the seat letting the driver know that the V8 engine is running. Very smooth, the V8. Naturally balanced.
Look right and check for traffic. Nothing coming. Look left. This is a fast, and expensive, car. Don't want to drive into the back of a car that's stopped just past this T-junction.
Nothing there. Just empty road.
Turn the wheel slightly left and, pressing the accelerator veeeery gently, ease out and straighten the steering.
Now the nose of the car is pointing in the right direction. Press the 'go' pedal harder. The active exhaust note suddenly changes to a growl as if the monster underneath has been woken up. The back of the car drops and the rear suspension squirms as the drivetrain and tyres grapple to convert as much of the 550PS and 501lb/ft of torque into forward motion as it can. As the speed rises the noise gets logarithmically louder. GRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!! Behind, God has just started to gargle through a strangely convenient drainpipe. Speedo needle has long since started its ascent.
The noise! The all-enveloping noise! GAAARRRRRRRAAARRRRRRRRR!!
Wind catches hair and tousles it mercilessly, like a hyperactive grandparent patting a head.
Gearbox slickly shifts into second. Out of vision the rev counter needle drops, ready to start its next clockwise circuit. Not enough time to look down to witness. All concentration has switched to forward vision and hands. The noise pauses briefly before God starts another round of gargling, a deep, hugely resonant sound that makes the driver laugh out loud, unconsciously, and exactly like a certain J. Clarkson esq. Suddenly the driver realises why Jeremy does that so often. It's inescapable! This adrenaline invoking noise passes through the eardrums and is carried on a river of adrenaline to the centre of the soul, invoking sheer joy that escapes back to the outside world via the vocal chords, in harmony with the still continuing exhaust note.
The speedo needle climbs inexorably and very quickly. Wind noise increases, engine noise increases, adrenaline increases, heartbeat increases, senses are all alive.
By the time third gear is selected, the car is travelling at seventy mph.
The noise is so visceral, so addictive, so joy-inducing that the driver gives the car full rein in third too. Each gear is like a musical 'repeat' sign for the exhaust powered orchestra. Top speed is one hundred and eighty six miles per hour. This is a public road so the driver eases off the throttle. The car reduces speed gradually. Now birdsong is audible.
Where did the drainpipe growl go? A prod of the accelerator brings it back and the driver accelerates fiercely again.
One thousand and one, one thousand and two, one thousand and three, one thousand and four, breath.
That's how long it takes to get to sixty in the £103,400 Jaguar XKR-S Convertible.
There are a very few points in your life that leave a lasting bookmark in your memory. Events where years later you can remember exactly where you were, what you were eating or even what clothes you were wearing.
Driving the Jaguar XKR-S convertible is now one of my bookmarks.
Follow Rob on twitter @robgt2. All images courtesy of Rob, expect shot of Rob driving, courtesy of Jaguar PR.