Relive our 2011 search for the Lysebotnveien – Norway’s best mountain road – in Jag’s ultimate XKR
I only understand one word in Norwegian, and that word is stengt. It means ‘closed’. The reason I know this is because stengt, the monosyllabic, guttural little b * gger, has actually just massacred a Big Top Gear Journey in a solitary strike.
10 mins back, all was sweetness and light as we cheerfully closed in on the Lysebotnveien, a physics-defying mountain road that has, in recent months, end up being something of a TG obsession. Someplace outside Tonstad, as the snow by the roadside was loading much deeper, digital photographer Wycherley pleasantly asked whether I ‘d examined if the Lysebotn roadway was in fact open, and I claimed don’t be daft, certainly I inspected, as well as anyhow, why on earth would certainly an unshaven hill pass be closed in springtime as well as … and then there was a lengthy pause complied with by some frenzied fiddling with phones as well as a lot of swearing. A couple of mins later on, right here it is in undeniable capitals. Lysebotnveien: STENGT. Thanks to Norway’s odd fascination with getting snowed on, the organized end point of our journey has been closed given that October and also isn’t as a result of open for an additional fortnight. Stengt!
So you join us at a little, overpriced petrol station, panic-eating our method via 3 kilos of Firkløver, Japp and also Kvikk Lunsj – Norway’s finest triune of chocolate bars – with a 542bhp super-coupe grunting impatiently on the forecourt and also nowhere to go.
This is what happens when you try to fulfill your heroes. The Lysebotn obsession began in 2014, with a YouTube clip of BASE jumpers tossing themselves wantonly from a kilometre-high, perfectly upright Norwegian high cliff. Simply noticeable behind-the-scenes was a sliver of roadway cut deep into the cliff, snaking back and forth to the high cliff top. After literally some secs of intensive research study, we found the road on Google Maps, and it was even more unbelievable than we ‘d hoped: 30 barrettes tied up the large side of a fjord, a clear challenger for Greatest Roadway worldwide. In among those minutes of lateral thinking for which we are renowned, we developed a plan: would not it be a great concept to drive a quick vehicle, quick, on the Lysebotn roadway?
But, like the chic container of merlot that sits gathering dust on the shelf due to the fact that you can never discover precisely the best occasion to consume it, I chose just any kind of old rapid cars and truck wouldn’t do for this roadway. It had to be the ideal cars and truck, the excellent vehicle: a vehicle capable of soaking up the cross-country schlep to the westernmost side of Norway, yet equally efficient in educating those hairpins some good manners at the various other end. Numerous, lots of tips were made; all were turned down – no cars and truck was good enough for my super-road.
And after that Jaguar launched the XKR-S – a turn-all-the-knobs-up-to-11 model of the already-lovely XKR – as well as the perfect roadway had its best car. It is essential not to dive into these points with overblown expectations. Therefore, via ways of pleading and deceptiveness, I did get Jag’s really initial XKR-S and also set out in the direction of Norway, which is a long means far from Fortress TopGear.
The XKR-S likes long ways. What a cars and truck this is. Regardless of packing 542bhp as well as a top speed of 186mph, it isn’t, as the advertising types claim, the fastest and most effective Jaguar ever before: 1991’s XJ220 boasted the same power output and could handle 217mph just. Neither is it, despite the name, a pared-down, roll-caged rival to Porsche’s 911 GT3 RS: there’s more leather in the XKR-S’s cabin than at a Hells Angel’s funeral, together with a pair of occasional back seats and a decent-sized boot under the back hatch.
However, the XKR-S is a razor-edged point. On the outside, the most noticeable mods are the dealt with carbon-fibre back wing and the vertical vents on either side of the XKR-S’s gaping mouth. These don’t do a lot for the coupe’s graceful lines, yet combine to decrease high-speed lift by 26 per cent. Bumping the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 from 510bhp – its output in the conventional XKR – was an uncomplicated task, needing nothing greater than an engine remap and exhaust fine-tune, however the chassis underwent heftier alterations. The double-wishbone front suspension has actually been conditioned, raising camber and also castor rigidity, the springs are 26 per cent sharper all round, and also lightweight 20in alloys lower unsprung weight by 5 kilograms over the XKR. Everything adds up to a 4.2-second 0-62mph time and, states Jaguar, a sub-eight-minute Nordschleife lap.
Never the types to sniff at added power as well as focus and wings, we had a short-term concern that the XKR-S may be stepping a slightly difficult course. The XKR has always stayed away from the track-focused, performance-car hand battle, rather taking a specific niche as a super-fast grand tourer. With this broach ‘Ring laps, might the streamlined Buzz have forgotten its USP?
Not to worry. Also in its new gym-honed role, the XKR-S keeps Jaguar’s trademark delicacy of trip. On Norway’s large, sweeping roads, flashing previous shining pine forests and also broad lakes with sunlight splintering off the water’s surface area, the XKR-S was firm yet never rough, planted yet pliable. Yes, it’s noticeably stiffer than the XKR, but never ever grinding or fragile. No firm does damping much better than Jaguar … as well as no firm makes a much better supercharged engine.
What a device this large V8 is, efficient in buttery leisure or wild-eyed redline-chasing. In tandem with the six-speed ZF transmission, it’s a welcome riposte to anybody who thinks the standard vehicle ‘box is dead: slick-shifting and also anonymous when left to do its own thing, quick and also direct when you bypass with the steering-wheel paddles.
So we understand the XKR-S feasts on miles like a Scandinavian trucker feeds on pickled fish, however – since some idiot failed to remember to examine whether a roadway was open – we have no suggestion what it’s like on wiggly things. I take a rueful nibble of Japp and wonder for how long it ‘d require to style a snow plough for the front of an XKR-S. A clang from my phone. An email from a great woman someplace in the Norwegian tourism office that has actually talked with a wonderful man in the Norwegian roadways division. They function quickly, these Vikings. The wonderful guy in the Norwegian roadways division claims sorry for the trouble, as well as if we would not mind extremely hanging around until tomorrow morning, he’ll clear all the snow away for us and we can have the roadway to ourselves. The initial cars and truck on the Lysebotn roadway in 8 months. Couldn’t have actually intended it much better. In event, we polish off a Firkløver between us.