Published date: 27 July 2012 | Published by: Richard Jones undefined

YOU are looking at Jaguar’s hottest XK to date, a scaled down version of Zeus that has 542 horses charging beneath the bonnet. Say hello to the XKR-S.

The Greek king of gods may rule Mount Olympus, but this Coventry-built GT pretty much rules everywhere else that has a decent stretch of road and a store selling clean underpants.

Simply put, the XKR-S is a beautiful (even in this very un-Jaguar shade of blue) sub £100,000 performance coupe with savage speed and blistering acceleration.

The bare facts say it will achieve 0-60mph in a rapid 4.2 seconds and will carry on accelerating until it reaches a top speed of 186mph, making it the fastest mass-produced Jaguar ever. But numbers alone don’t do justice to the sheer brutality of this car.

Stand on the throttle and you’ll swear you’ve just activated the afterburner in a F-16 fighter jet. The engine roars like an angry lion and the once-distant horizon smacks you in the face faster than you can say a four-letter word of your choosing.

The XKR-S is startlingly agile too. Push it hard and it will thread along twisty roads with great poise, while at the same time gripping the surface as if its 20-inch tyres are coated with an adhesive invented by a scientist from Krypton.

The car acquits itself beautifully on bigger roads too and thanks to its prodigious power it makes even the longest of straights seem like tiny back alleys.

But while driving supercars can sometimes be draining - a bit hard work, a bit like trying to get a Chinese visa - the Jaguar XKR-S is different; it’s as easy a sharing a bowl of Spaghetti with a beautiful Hollywood blonde. Handy technologies like a reverse parking camera, which sends pictures from the rear of the car to the seven-inch touchscreen in the dash, along with the active Jaguar Driving Control System, which can be adapted according to weather conditions and road surfaces, means the car has been optimised for driving ease and comfort.

The active damping system is even designed to constantly monitor the car’s movement, so if you are popping to the corner shop to pick up some milk the Jag will soften the suspension to maximise comfort. On the other hand, if you are late and hurtling down the motorway, the system will automatically increase suspension firmness and grip.

Critics among you will no doubt question the need to spend an extra £20k when, by any normal standards, the standard Jaguar XKR is already a top performance coupe. But there is so much more to this range-topping model than the extra 39bhp and the letter S, for the additional money you are getting a car that is more poised and more aggressively styled; you are getting a car that has helped transform the Jaguar image.

The gloves have come off at Jaguar HQ and the big cat team has built a car capable of taking on the best performance coupes from Germany and Italy.

Fact file

Tested: 5.0-litre V8 supercharged petrol Jaguar XKR-S
Price: From £98,000
Power/torque: 542bhp @ 6,000rpm/502lb ft @2,500rpm
Top speed: 186mph
Acceleration: 0-62 in 4.2 seconds
Fuel economy: 23.0mph (EU Combined)

Drooling? Wanna see it being driven?