Test Drive: 2011 Jaguar XKR 175 Coupe

Special edition Jaguar XKRs in limited supply

The XKR Coupe is beautiful and stunningly elegant in its design form ? perhaps more so than its Convertible counterpart, but I still prefer open-air motoring to closed car cruising. That having been said, this review is about the XKR Coupe in all its glory and particularly the Special Limited Edition 75th Anniversary Jaguar XKR 175. Only 175 will be produced for the U.S. market, with 15 units built for Canada. The European market will commemorate the iconic marque?s 75th Anniversary, with only 75 cars to be built. All XKR models are highly desirable, since both came from the styling pen and influence of Ian Callum, Jaguar?s design chief.

The Convertible XKR was actually designed and developed first, before the XKR Coupe to ensure not only the car?s structural integrity, but to make absolutely sure that each was correct in their own right, unlike most offerings where the coupe comes before, and the top is chopped off to make the convertible, with supportive structures implemented as an afterthought.

According to Callum, one cannot fully appreciate the XKR simply by viewing photos, since it is seen as consisting of a side, a front and a top ? on the road or in person however, it is perceived as a complete, singular, three-dimensional entity which equates to two elements — the proportions and the extremity of the form as a whole.?

Initially, the question might be posed how either configuration of the XKR 2+2 sports car could possibly be improved upon. Well, actually in many ways, but particularly in the form of the ?R? versions as in XKR. The XKR elevates the performance level by moving from a normally aspirated and supercharged 4.2-liter AJ V8? to the Generation III, 5.0-liter supercharged V8 that delivers a healthy 510- horsepower between 6,000 and 6,500 rpm, while generating a respectable 461 pound feet of torque in a range between 2,500 and 5,500 rpm. The engine resides up front, positioned longitudinally, with power transferred to the rear wheels through a ZF six-speed automatic gearbox, which may be left to change gears automatically without intervention, or shifted manually via wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The European version XKR 75 adds 22 horsepower and 22 pound feet of torque over the U.S.?s XKR175.

Both the XKR 75 and XKR 175 Coupe are capable of traveling from 0-60 mph? in a mere 4.6 seconds, with top speed electronically limited to 174 mph.?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Continuing the reflection on design appeal, the 2011 XKR 175 is visibly more desirable and sportier in nature than previous model XKRs. Inside, traditional craftsmanship and contemporary luxury materials continue to abound with features such as finely stitched leather, contrasting with a choice of high-tech trim surfaces including metallic finishes. The layout features intuitive controls and driver-oriented technologies with sporty, yet user-friendly ergonomics and highly supportive seats, set low in relation to the high waistline contributing to a purposeful ?cockpit? feeling.

To ensure that the XKR175 remains stable at high speeds, a revised aerodynamic package incorporates a new front air dam, new side sills, a new rear diffuser and a larger rear spoiler providing increased balance and a reduction in lift. New 20-inch Kasuga 10-spoke alloy wheels, red brake calipers and Ultimate Black exterior paint adorn the car’s exterior. Inside, door sill tread plates reading “XKR175 ? 1 of 175” greet the driver and passenger while the leather is finished in Warm Charcoal with Cranberry stitching, all accompanied by Piano Black wood veneer.?

Our review vehicle was the Jaguar XKR 175 Coupe, which came with the rich Ultimate Black metallic exterior finish complemented by a warm Charcoal leather interior with Cranberry stitching accented by the polished Piano Black veneer trim accents. The base price was set at $95,150 while the Limited Edition 175 package costing an extra $8,500 along with the $850 Transportation and Handling fee elevated the final sticker total to $104,500.

SUMMARY: ?Jaguar XK models are incredible vehicles in their own right, while the ?R? versions, or more properly the XKR models add the supercharger and considerably more horsepower, unique ?R? exterior styling with deeper front bumper, aluminum-finish mesh upper and lower grille and side vents, and color-keyed hood louvers, 20-inch alloy wheels, performance brakes with red brake calipers with ‘R’ logo, fully active exhaust, Adaptive Front Lighting, ‘R’ sports seats with added lateral support ,’R’ badging on headrests, tachometer, steering wheel and gear selector, polished stainless steel pedals and suede-like Alston headliner material.

The XKR 175 Coupe delivers power, luxury and performance but certainly in a much more striking and elegant design statement, displaying a visibly assertive and sporty persona — It is essentially, two cars in one — it is both a sports car and a grand tourer. From its distinctive oval grille opening up front, over the long?”power bulge” sloping hood, past the sharply raked windshield and the 2+2 seating and the elevated deck with integrated spoiler lip, the XKR 175 appears to be in motion, even when at a standstill. The car exudes the highest level of quality ? a primary concern in the evaluation of vehicles manufactured by the Jaguar Car team, who refer to that quality or essence as “Jaguar-ness”, which is quite simply, a feast for the senses that comes from producing gracefully sculpted automotive forms that also serve as stylish packaging for race bred and proven machines that tend to stir the souls of adventurous and passionate motorists ? an age old, traditional practice that delivers a feeling — a sensibility if you will, for the luxurious elegance and refinement inherent in Jaguar cars since their very beginning, constituting an exemplary statement regarding personal taste and a heralding of one’s plateau of success as well as an inner sense of pleasure, excitement and satisfaction.?

Push the keyless start button and the XKR 175?s powerful, supercharged V8 roars to life, then rotate the shift knob to drive (or Sport), vigorously prod the electronic throttle and the realization that this is no ordinary automobile becomes instantly apparent. Choose a challenging, isolated twisting mountain road to test paddle shifter’s manual gear selection to experience the joys of spirited motoring, along with the audible treat of the heart-warming throaty exhaust note that exits through the twin tipped dual exhaust.?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ??

The XKR 175 is big, bold and more beautiful than ever. Its EPA rating as a mini-compact (probably due to the limited back seat space when drivers of my dimensions are behind the wheel) is a misnomer, since it tips the scale at nearly two tons. This Jaguar car is capable of slinking along slowly and stealthily, while maintaining the ability to spring rapidly to top speed — a feat that is indeed comparable to its biological big cat namesake. The XKR 175 Coupe elevates the essence of Jaguar — motoring in stylish elegance, constituting a near perfect formula. Incidentally, it very closely resembles the Aston Martin ? not a bad thing indeed. The XKR 175 Coupe is truly a superlative motorcar that possesses the heart of a racing machine.

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