In honor of Jaguar's 75th anniversary, the company has worked up a limited run of XKR coupes, dubbed XKR175. The "175" stands for 175-car, the total production -- except that Canada gets another 15, but maybe Canada doesn't count. What the 175 should stand for is the car's top speed. The standard XKR is electronically limited to 155 mph, but the XKR175 raises that speed limit all the way to...174 mph. Uh, come on, guys. You couldn't bump it up 1 more?
Top speed, unfortunately, is a largely academic exercise in the USA anyway. At least it was in Monterey, California and environs during the busy Monterey Historics Weekend, when we had a chance to get behind the wheel. The XKR175 did manage to turn a few heads, no mean feat given the other-worldly level of competition-basically, it's the kind of scene where a single traffic jam might include a Ferrari F50, a Lamborghini Murcielago, a Porsche 911 Turbo and a 356, a smattering of vintage Alfas, and a Mercedes SL65 Black Series.
The XKR175 does not wear a whole lot of exterior enhancements, so any attention it does grab really speaks well of the standard XK coupe, which is now going on its sixth year. For the record, the XKR175 adds Absolute Black paint; more extreme front and rear spoilers, lower body extensions, and rear diffuser; and red brake calipers that peek out from behind special, ten-spoke 20-inch wheels. Inside, there's charcoal leather with dark red stitching, black veneers, and door sill plates that say, "XKR175 - 1 of 175" (although we're not sure what the Canadian cars say-maybe, "XKR175 --1 of 15, eh").
If the package isn't terribly special, the XKR itself certainly is. A new, aluminum-block, 5.0-liter V-8, introduced for 2011, bristles with 510 hp and 461 pound-feet of torque. A quick shove of the gas pedal is all it takes to fast-forward the scenery, to the accompaniment of a nice, subdued growl rather than a supercharger whine. Jaguar advertises a 0-to-60 time of 4.6 seconds, but the car feel faster. Happily, the R-spec brakes scrub off speed in a hurry. The six-speed automatic, with standard shift paddles, is so quick, so rev-matching racy, and so smooth around town, that you'll never wish for a dual-clutch gearbox again. The ride is fairly decent, despite the 20-inch wheels and the ultra-wide rubber, and the steering shows no hint of tramlining. A bit more steering effort, however, would be appropriate for this sporting machine.
The cabin is a bit closed in, particularly in charcoal gray, with high window line and limited rear-quarter visibility. At least it's well finished inside. Jaguar has recently given the XK the twist-knob gear selector introduced on the XF, and frankly it's a less sporting solution than a typical gear lever. We're also not enamored of the highly animated touch screen, which demands too much of the driver's attention and has sucked up too many functions better left to individual knobs and switches.
Still, the XK, and particularly the XKR, is a more serious sports GT car than its image suggests. With its black paint, more aggressive aerodynamic aids, and distinctive wheels, the XKR175 -- which is available only as a coupe -- better represents the Jaguar within. The extra top speed would make a better bragging point if it weren't 1 mph shy of the car's name, but perhaps exclusivity alone is reason enough to make buyers pony up the extra $8500 over a standard XKR.
2011 Jaguar XKR175
On sale: Late 2010
Base price: $104,500
Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V-8
Power: 510 hp @ 6000-6500 rpm
Torque: 461 lb-ft @ 2500-5500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
L x W x H: 188.7 x 79.8 x 52.0 in
Wheelbase: 108.3 in
Cargo capacity: 11.7 cu ft
EPA fuel economy: 15/22 mpg