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Offline eddievanhalen

  • Joined: Dec 2009

  • Drives: 2010 jaguar xkr
  • Location: melbourne
Well I've finally climbed another rung on my car ladder..............started out in '97 (newly licensed) with a VP Commodore ,  2006 it was a Subaru Liberty 3.0R Spec B , 2007 a Mercedes CLK500 coupe (5.5L)  and on Friday I pick up a 2010 Jag XKR in black/black.  My interest these days lies entirely with the grand tourer style of car  - I don't have the time or inclination to be enjoying myself on the track , although the XKR could hold its own amongst some decent company if it had to.  I'm more a cruising driver who enjoys long trips in fast cars.  When I first bought the CLK I said to the wife "This is all the car I'll ever need "  but it didn't take long until I was bored with it, even though it's a great car and I'll miss it in some respects.

Over the past couple of years I've spent plenty of time scouring the net for just about every review for the style of car I like and then road testing those of most interest when I had a chance.  It pretty much came down to a match between the Aston Martin DBS and the Maserati Granturismo S .   I don't consider cars like the M6 and SL AMG competition for these cars - they might get close in performance but not much else.  If you just want a fast car , then hey -  GTR.

I haven't contributed a great deal to the forums, so I thought (at risk of being very much in the minority) I would share my analysis of the XKR vs the competition that I considered.  Like I said I do expect I'm in the minority in my final choice , but I'm certainly not alone (see next post) . I would also say that I couldn't blame anyone for favouring either one of these amazing cars.

Maserati: It didn't take long for me to rule out the Maserati.  Not only did I hear and read of numerous horror stories with Granturismo lemons and how the local dealer dealt with it (only one dealer in the state of course which I never really like anyway , especially when they have a bad rep) but there were just too many compromises to be had.  When I spend in the $300k-$500k+ range I don't expect to get in and immediately notice all the areas where costs have been cut - everything should look bespoke.   Of course it's bloody gorgeous from most angles and a decent performer but in the end the following counted against it:

- the reliability issues above.  I understand that some are prepared to live with the "charm" of brand new Italian exotics that spend half their life in for service/repair but I'm not one of those people. I spend 80+ hours a week running my own business and the little bit of time I have for driving should be for just that.  Everything I've seen tends to indicate that Maseratis are not particularly well put together.
- the very low rent looking centre dash/controls/gps straight from Peugeot/Citroen and boring dash/steering wheel 
- the seats ........the weirdest design I've seen and only comfortable for certain builds due to the "lump" around the shoulders (see pic) - also quite hard and no good on my bad back
- not enough travel on the seat - couldn't get back far enough to get comfortable (i'm only a touch over 6 foot).
- a very narrow foot well with a disproportionately large brake pedal which is also too close to the gas pedal.
- the low rent job they've done of integrating the side air bags into the driver/passenger doors - looks very ordinary Image
- the tail lights right off a Mondeo

In the end all I could see to recommend the Maserati were its external looks , the more usable back seats and the exhaust sound which is quite spectacular. Not enough to get a win over the DBS.

Aston:     The DBS is a better all round car than the Maser but for six figures more it should be.  The DB9 doesn't get a look in because it feels too slow and the styling is getting a bit old to these eyes.  They keep giving it updates and the only way they seem to be able to keep it current is to make it look more and more like the DBS with each update (now has similar side skirts, the DBS stereo, clear tail lights etc...) , which leaves it a bit in the middle of nowhere until a more complete styling change occurs.

 From what I can gather the DBS is significantly more reliable than the Granturismo , so a tick there.

I found the DBS an exciting drive but it was a bit messy in the handling department and if you push it a bit there's a lot of work needed to keep it on track.  There seemed to be a bit of shudder at speeds greater than 100kmh which was rather concerning.  I've since found out this is a known issue with the car.  Both the DBS and XKR have adaptive dynamics/suspension but it seems better sorted in the XKR. Of course the sound is immense.

However once again , despite the sense of occassion in jumping into an Aston (and the lovely speedo/tacho which is a work of art) , I found my eye drawn to all the short cuts in the interior.  I find myself thinking why bother with all the gorgeous leather etc.........in a half million dollar + car when it's set off by the diabolical pop up , out of date Volvo sat nav.   The dash looks good but is extremely fiddly and an ergonomic disaster.  It seems there's still Ford parts bin stuff being used as some of the stalks/switches feel cheapo for the price tag.

The Emotion Control Unit key is a nice touch but the name is a real wank for want of a better term  .

I did find it hard to find a comfy driving position - in the end I had to raise the front of the seat to get my knees far enough away from the pedals.  Fine for a test drive but it would've become uncomfortable over time.

I am being picky and there are far less issues than the Maser so overall the DBS was the obvious choice in terms of performance and overall finish.

The Jaaaaag:

It was just a few months ago I was having a chat with a mate about the DBS and he said "have you tried the new XKR?".   I said no - it's not even a big step up from my CLK for God's sake.   I then found out about the new V8 in it which is putting out 510hp and 625nM of torque from only 2500 rpm ...........so it was now a fair starting point for a comparison. Clearly better than anything Maserati does.  The DBS has the same power and less torque , also peaking much higher.  The DBS is however lighter due to some carbon fibre panels.  Both cars share a very similar aluminium chassis.

To drive, the Aston is possibly a little quicker off the mark (due to its carbon fibre components knocking off some weight) , although not a huge difference.  Car and Driver got the XKR to 60mph in 4 secs which is a match for the DBS so perhaps there's not much difference - it also indicates that the horsepower and 0-60mph times quoted by Jaguar are rather conservative. . The Jaguar is noticeably more powerful from a running start and would be quicker than the DBS from 60-100kmh due to much more low down torque/wider power band.  The Jag felt a better all round steer and beats the DBS for technical merit too with things like its electronic/active diff which provides better traction and less interference from engine cuts/braking etc....like many other TC systems.   The ZF gearbox is the best setup of any kind that I've experienced with faster, smoother changes than the DBS or Granturismo and nicely rev matched downshifts.  The suspension is firm without being harsh and the steering , whilst lighter than the DBS , has decent feel.  This is one area that will grate on some people (the light steering) - to me it just means that the XKR is ever so slightly leaning towards the GT side of its dual personality , as against its sports car ambitions.

Not that it bothers me but I understand from talking to others who've driven both (and Jeremy Clarkson LOL) that the XKR is the better drifter and easier to control.

The interior of the Jag to my eyes is better overall than the DBS - having said that the DBS is a touch better in terms of creating a sense of occasion.  The leather is lovely , even if the Aston's may be a little more expensive.  The clincher is not only that it feels just as luxurious , but everything looks purpose built for the Jag - it just looks more the complete package rather than being fiddly and seeing compromises made.  It's also far more ergonomically livable.  As an audiophile I also find the Bowers and Wilkins stereo the equivalent of anything I've heard in a car , including the Harmon Kardon.  The only thing that pissed me off was the speedo which is marked 50,70,90 etc....  The steering wheel in the Jag is much nicer than either the DBS or Granturismo and the seats (whilst not as sporty as the DBS) are very comfortable and hugely adjustable (16 way).  Unlike the DBS and Granturismo I didn't struggle to find a comfortable driving position.



The Jag also comes with far more standard features and for all intents and purposes there is no option list other than adaptive cruise at $5000 (which my car has - can't see me using it though).   Optioning up a DBS Volante to a similar standard (Aston don't offer some of the Jag's features) would push it well into the $600's on the road compared to the Jag at a touch under $300k.

While fuel economy is never a top priority at this end of the market the Jag does a pretty amazing job at combined 12.3L/100kms compared to the Aston's 16.4L/100km

My understanding is that the new range of Jags are rating well in the reliability data (JD Power etc.....) and there's a better network of dealers and mechanics around for the Jags.  I'd expect the Aston to have more niggles (one of the joys of lower volume cars)

The Final Decision:

On any objective basis I feel the XKR is the better car, even before you consider value for money.  The decision to purchase the Aston and spend another $200-$300k would come down to subjective matters like looks and badge , whether you prefer a V8 or V12  (I find both equally awesome) and whether you loathe forced induction engines ( the XKR has no whine btw). The DBS and XKR both have the active exhaust where > 2500 rpm you get a symphony of destruction with all the pops and crackles.

 Aston will always be more exclusive due to the lower volume production  , although having said that I've seen more Vantages and Db9's in Melbourne than XKRs so around here there's no great difference in rarity.  Most people who see the XKR think it's an Aston anyway , which isn't surprising given the involvement of Ian Callum in both (the DB7/9 was a Jag derivative)

Despite its recent success , particularly with the XF and XJ,  Jaguar still has a huge amount of work to do to get rid of the "old man's car" image and improve its reputation for reliability - those buying now probably get the benefit of that to a small extent.  I know first hand - every single person I told I was considering a Jag called me an old geezer LOL.  :rolleyes: The new range of cars and the amazing C-X75 concept are slowly restoring Jaguar's street cred.

My wife wanted me to trade up to a CLK63 AMG convertible which to my eyes DOES look like an old man's car

I find both the Jag and DBS spectacular from the rear and side but less so from the front , with the edge to the DBS -.  Depending on the day I really waver between which looks the best overall.  Note that Jaguar have ruined the front end with chrome blingy vents and intakes which I am going to get resprayed to match the Ultimate Black colour of the car...........it looks a lot better then .

In the end I feel the Jag is a better drive and unless you wish to pay mucho extra for the badge and James Bond factor , I can't see the point.  If you do see the point then I totally get that too.  I love the DBS but feel the XKR just pips it overall and that's even before you consider price.  From my point of view the XKR is not only the best value GT in the world right now , it's the best period.

One of the more savvy car people I know summed it up like this and I can understand why:

DBS owners, don't ever drive the latest XKR.
XKR owners, don't ever park next to a DBS.

The XKR is spectacular compared to just about any other car but parked next to the DBS it possibly fades into the background a touch.  Taking everything into account though  (and how often I'll park next to a DBS) , it's clear to me what the best all round package is.

This surely now has to be all the car I'll ever need.............until next time :)


I'll post some photos of my car next weekend after I've picked it up.   It'll then be back in the shop a couple of weeks later to get the blingy chrome gills and vents on the front resprayed in black.  For the sake of a temporary pic here's a similar car with a slightly lighter colour and different wheels - enough to get an idea.


PS   If anyone's interested in a black/black 5.5L Merc V8 in immaculate condition with <10,000kms on it for a good price (less than half what I paid in 2007) PM me before put it up on Carsales for more.

Offline eddievanhalen

  • Joined: Dec 2009

  • Drives: 2010 jaguar xkr
  • Location: melbourne
In the name of a second opinion from someone who knows these cars much better than I do I thought I'd quote a comment I stumbled onto during my research.

IMO the XKR (5.0L S/C) is the best GT car available right now.

Performance wise, the XKR matches and surpassed the DBS, the Auto box in the XKR has a smoother faster change, and when in Dynamic mode the speed of the changes in manual operation are as good as any DSG box I have tried, that includes our F458!

The ride is extremely well composed, never harsh even on poorly surfaced roads and the car flows in a very natural manner. Handling wise, the car is a GT, it has a very fluid steering set up which whilst light, has a positive turn in, good straight line feel and is linear from lock to lock. It is very controllable and traction is extremely strong. When in the right conditions, the car can be drifted in a very controlled progressive manner and the car always leaves you feeling in control.

The XKR engine is incredible, great power, a good rev range and endless amounts of torque. Lovely noise which is no longer masked by the Supercharger.

The DBS has a heavy steering feel, quite meaty but a little vague and rubbery in the straight ahead. It is a little more tail happy but very controllable and the ride a little less comfortable overall than the XKR. Not quite as well sorted as the Jag as an all rounder but perhaps a little more "exciting" at times. Performance wise, the Jag is probably a little quicker particularly from 50 - 120. On most roads most of the time you would not notice too much difference. The DBS has to be worked a little harder, the XKR always seems to be ready to go.

Looks are always a tricky subject because everyone has a different perspective however the DBS is more coherent and looks as "one" whereas the XKR is clearly built to a price therefore the stuck on spoiler looks a little cheap. When stood in isolation the XKR is undoubtedly a stunning car, when parked next to a DBS (or DB9 and Vantage) however its beauty fades a little.

Interior wise, the XKR in Black with white contrast stitching and Aluminium trim is a lovely place to sit. The Sat Nav whilst being a bit fiddly to use on the move (small touchscreen buttons) is very accurate and all of the other car functions easy to use. Quality of build is good and materials are generally classy and modern.

The DBS has a bespoke look to it. This is both good and bad. Some of the switches look 20 years out of date - in fact some of them do date back over 20 years. The volvo sourced sat nav is appalling, and the mirror switches and stalks are cheap feeling for a bespoke car. The Leather used on seats, dash and door trims however is lovely, much higher grade than the Jag. The centre section is a mess ergonomically however it looks great and looks to be of a very high quality. The instruments also look great but are not especially easy on the eye to use.

Enough of my waffle though, which would I choose? Logically it has to be the XKR - it does everything the DBS does and often does it better. It is very well made, has a great feel to it and is a car that every time you jump into it makes you feel great and certain that you have made the right choice - until you see a DBS!

The author of that little comment is Paul Brown who runs the ecurie25 supercar club in Britain and who, amongst the usual suspects,  has a DBS, XKR and GranturismoS in his stable of cars.   I found it quite interesting that someone in that position and with that experience came down in favour of the XKR.

Incidentally ecurie are in the process of setting up a supercar club in Australia with offices in Sydney and Melbourne , with the Melbourne one based at Yarra Marina due to open in 2011.

Offline Ferrari Fissatore

  • Soap Dodger

  • Joined: Jan 2007

  • Drives: its obsession
  • Location: under its skin
Great post/s!

But don't judge them ALL from the one/few you've driven. It's what many journos do, and is a pet gripe of mine.

I frequently transform cars with simple items like tyres/pressures and wheel alignments...

The Miura I've just sorted out I actually held hostage from the owner until i was happy with it. I let him drive it once, upon purchase, but only for 20 minutes....

It was a car you'd hate if you drove it as it was.... but just a few tweaks in the right spots and it is barely recognisable as the same car.

That's an extreme case of course, but even choice of tyre brand can transform a Maserati from one thing into something quite different.

Offline M500

  • Joined: Apr 2008

  • Location:
  • Drives:
Great informative post. Very well articulated research and experience.

Congratulations on the new car.

Offline dodger

  • Tommy Gunna

  • Joined: Dec 2009

  • Location: Melbourne
Great informative post. Very well articulated research and experience.
Congratulations on the new car.


Online 98octane

Great informative post. Very well articulated research and experience.

Congratulations on the new car.

Exactly my thoughts.  Thanks for spending the time to post it.  Congrats too!  Look forward to the pics (and let me know if you want a photoshoot)!

Offline carmooch

  • Joined: Dec 2010

  • Name: George
Brilliant post! It's feedback like that which encouraged me to develop Carmooch in the first place. Remind me to refer you when it goes live!

I couldn't agree with you more in regards to the DBS. It looks and sounds sensational but at the end of the day it seems to cater more for the rubber-neckers rather than the driver.

I had the pleasure of taking the XKR down the coast road along with a Bentley Supersports and it was amazing at how little there was between the two cars in performance - if anything the XKR was ahead. Just such immense acceleration and amazing handling while offering superb styling inside and out.

Also it may seem odd to say, but the boot space staggered me! I was expecting a small boot but the entire rear window and hatch opens to give access to the boot. Very practical. What more could you want?

Oh and PS, well done to go from a Subaru in 2006 to an XKR in 2011, sounds like the hard work has paid off. Hopefully I can do the same - currently I'm at the Subaru stage!

EDIT: Might as well throw in the photo!


Offline app

  • Joined: Sep 2008

  • Location: Adelaide
Excellent post, post of the month.

Thanks for taking the time out to write such a detailed comparison of all the cars.

I look forward to seeing the pics once you pick it up.

Just out of curiosity - did you consider the Bentley Continental GT?

Also regarding the Maserati - there is a guy on Ferrari Chat (360C) who also comes on here occasionally who had a Maserati Granturismo and Granturismo S. From memory he reported having some issues with his first Granturismo (and I think his Granturismo S too), but judging by his later posts on his Granturismo car it seems to be running fine now. Someone else may be able to clarify this further or correct me on this.

Offline eddievanhalen

  • Joined: Dec 2009

  • Drives: 2010 jaguar xkr
  • Location: melbourne
Thanks for the replies guys.

To app - no I didn't consider the Bentley, it's too much of a barge for my taste.  Whether justified or not I place the Bentley and Merc CL into another class (limo-coupes or something  :D  )  -  they can't match the lines of the Aston, Jag or Maserati IMHO.  For the money we're talking I need to have a bit of wow factor when I look at the thing.

The one big disadvantage from my point of view of the Aston/Jag is the token back seats - my current ride (CLK) excels in that department and is one of the few genuine sporty 2+2's that pulls it off , along with the Maserati.  I have a 3yo son who is obsessed with rides in "daddy's car" and who for quite a while will be too young for the front seat.   I'm not silly enough to expect to use an XKR as a family car but I would like to be able to take my son for a spin as he grows up.

I think carmooch's point regarding the boot space is relevant here.  Compared to older XK/R models the current car has clearly less usable back seats (useless for adults) whereas the older ones were more generous.  So I guess they thought it better to provide a decent boot and make seats that were pretty useless almost totally useless.

You can get a baby seat (forward facing) into the rear seats of the Jag at a pinch (with passenger seat pushed forward) but the trouble arrives when they grow out of that at about 4yo and need a booster.   It's not recommended (although it's legal) by the powers that be that you use the half/cushion boosters due to lack of side protection - although having said that a cushion booster in a well built car may well do better than a full booster in an everyday vehicle.

Anyhow - I found that every full booster I tried was too tall for the sloping roofline (couldn't reach the back) and had almost given up.  After hunting for a lower backed booster seat I eventually found the Hipod Senator (at Target) which of course is about the most expensive seat on the market with integrated Ipod jack and speakers in the headrest  :D   I think with that I should be able to get him through until he's big enough to sit in the rear buckets unaided - and then on to the front seat when he grows out of that.



Offline mhh

  • Chief Test Pilot

  • Joined: Feb 2006

  • Location: Adelaide
Ed, congrats on the XKR. I've never considered one but I found respect when one overtook us in the Carrera S in Classic Adelaide on a wet stage on '09. The driver was better/braver than me but the car looked very comfortable with being punted hard.

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