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Road Test: Jaguar XKR Speed and Black Edition
Combine the elegant road manners with the raw speed of a coupe and you have the Jaguar XKR, make it a bit faster and darker and you have the 2011 Jaguar XKR Speed and Black Edition – an unique piece of machinery everybody will fall in love with. The Speed and/or Black Editions are all about the sheer power, the style, and the cachet of owning, driving, and experiencing a Jaguar sports car.
When the new XK was launched in 2007, the body work screamed performance and luxury with more than a hint of sexual robustness. Jaguar’s Ian Callum penned a wonderful setup with a long hood, short tail and the characteristics of a true Jaguar. The design touches a bit close to what we have seen from fellow foreign-owned British marque Aston Martin over the past years. Somehow, the XKR gives the impression that it is never standing still. Its moving lines show a type of sheer athleticism of an animal.
Numerous improvements have made their way to the all-British luxury two-door sports car since its birth four years ago. A new supercharged 5.0 liter V8 engine was fitted in 2010 and it got a revised front fascia, aerodynamic mirrors and LED tail lamps. Inside, JaguarDrive, a rotary knob gear selector, replaced the outdated J-gate shifter. The optional Speed and Black packages are available since 2010 and create an one-of-a-kind Jag focused on improved handling, looks and speed.
The 5.0 liter V8 uses a supercharger to produce a fantastic 510hp at 6,000rpm to 6,500rpm and a massive 625Nm of torque that peaks at a low 2,500rpm to 5,500rpm. All that power is routed to the rear wheels through Jaguar’s six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift steering-wheel paddles providing the driver with the controls at his or her finger tips; right upshifts, and left downshifts. A XKR with a stick shift is not available.
The standard XKR offers a sprint time from 0-100km/h in 4.6 seconds and a limited top speed of 250km/h. The new optional Speed Pack extends the car’s top speed from 250km/h to an electronically limited 280km/h thanks to engine and transmission recalibration. Even though we managed to hit 290km/h on the German Autobahn. [Check the video right here]
To ensure the 2011 Jaguar XKR with Speed Pack remains stable at high speeds, the coupe uses a revised front aerodynamic splitter and larger rear spoiler to provide increased balance and a reduction in lift. The XKR’s computerized Active Differential Control is an electronically controlled differential continuously adapting to both your demands and the amount of grip available at each individual wheel. With the Speed Pack it adjusts more to reduce steering sensitivity at very high speeds. The overall steering is weighty but without being non-communicative or overly sporty. It feels sufficient and never brings you in any troubles.
Driving the Jaguar, means surrounding you with the wonderful roar that comes from the quad exhaust pipes when it is pushed to the max, or a nice burble coming from the back at lower revs. At higher engine speeds the intake acoustic feedback system combines with the exhaust system creating an addictive sound of a growling Jaguar cat. [Listen to the exhaust tune right here]
With control either from steering wheel-mounted paddles, or full automatic with S mode, via the JaguarDrive Selector, the new XKR delivers exhilarating performance that fits to the sound track coming to you from the rear. The seamless shifts provide an excellent smooth ride with an additional bit of sportiveness on a winding road, but in the end it excels as a true motorway cruiser. It is remarkable well-mannered for day-to-day driving, while the suspension seamlessly irons out any bumps or holes in the road.
The handling is balanced, controllable and planted, but never stiff or hard. The chassis seems like a perfect mate for the flexible V8. The XKR is known for its oversteer-induced powerslides, but those are only possible with the systems switched off completely and hard to accomplish in a tight space. The standard stability control system is too fast to intervene and in the driving-oriented competition mode, the car was either out of power in the middle of a curve or the nose was pointed towards the opposite site of the road when we switched it all off. The XKR feels slightly too twitchy with the nose reacting quickly and almost upsetting the rear.
Every XKR with the Speed Pack will come with body-colored side sills and rear diffuser, and a chrome finish to the window surrounds, upper and lower mesh grilles, side Power Vents and boot lid finisher. Red brake calipers with a Jaguar ‘R’ logo sit inside 20 inch Kasuga alloy wheels. Seven colors are available in the Jaguar Designers’ Choice program; Ultimate Black, Polaris White, Salsa Red, Liquid Silver, Stratus Grey, Kyanite Blue and Spectrum Blue. As you can see in the pictures we did not drive one car, but we drove two XKRs over the past months; a Polaris White and a Stratus Grey version.
An addition to the Speed Pack – only package fitted to the Stratus Grey XKR – the Black Pack outfitted to this Polaris White XKR includes gloss black wheels and exterior detailing. The Black Pack models are only available in Ultimate Black, Polaris White or Salsa Red and have 20 inch gloss black Kalimnos alloy wheels. Further gloss black finishing is applied to the window surrounds and front grilles. Red painted brake calipers, black alloy wheels, body colored front and rear spoilers and boot lid finish of the package. Customers also have the option to apply a XKR side body graphic that runs along the door sills, but we would skip it on our option list.
The interior feels spacious, luxurious and offers any possible option you would need in a luxury sports car like the XKR. The great atmosphere is created by the stitched leather on the dashboard and the seats, and the choice of aluminum, oak, or piano black trim. The front seats are superb, offering enough support and a comfortable seating with heating and cooling functions. They are even ten-way adjustable with the controls accessible on the door. The XKRs back seat is hardly suitable for a full-size adult, and best left to small children.
All 2011 Jaguar XKRs with the Black Pack are trimmed with Charcoal leather hides that can be personalized with a range of color stitching and grain. Two additional interior finishes and veneers for the fascia and door trims are also available – Dark Oak and Dark Mesh Aluminum. The pictures provide a good view between two different setups available for the XKR. The choices are endless.
A seven-inch display is placed in the center console offering access to the climate control, audio system, satellite navigation system, and Bluetooth mobile connectivity. The high-end Bowers & Wilkins system offers 525-watt system with Dolby ProLogic II Surround Sound. Other technical features in the cabin are the Jaguar Smart Key system with keyless entry, Portable Audio Interface, CD-changer for six discs and the Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Alert.
Our verdict includes one single thing; we have build up a true love for the 2011 Jaguar XKR. It is insanely fast, elegant-looking, creates a stir wherever you take it around town and it is the ultimate British GT and motorway cruiser available at this moment. Both versions we drove were outfitted with the Speed Pack which meant some aerodynamic enhancements that include front and rear spoilers, side sills, and a rear diffuser. Top speed was increased to 280km/h, compared to 250km/h on the standard XKR. The Polaris white version even had the Black pack offering some additional exterior color and interior trim options.
This all left us with one single question. Which one should we choose? In the end there are still four choices and two packages: the Coupe, the Convertible, or the XKR175, a special version of the Coupe that commemorates Jaguar’s 75th anniversary, and the brand new 2012 XKR-S. With its 550-horsepower engine, spoilers, lowered stance, and additional aerodynamic and performance enhancements on top of the Speed package, it’s the fastest Jag ever. We think you have made your choice already, but let’s answer it after our drive in the 2012 XKR-S.