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.