Rosamond, California - What a difference a brake makes. Maybe not a $16,750 difference, or even an $11,750 one--those being the premiums that push the luscious, limited-edition Jaguar XKR Silverstone coupe and convertible (respectively) up hard against the magic $100,000 mark. Both Silverstones list for $96,905; compare that with $80,155 for the "regular" XKR coupe and $85,155 for the XKR convertible.
Then again, it's not just the mighty four-piston Brembos (massive fourteen-inch cross-drilled discs up front and thirteen-inchers at the rear) driving up the sticker and making this XKR look and act as serious as its legendary name would imply. It's also a set of outsized, twenty-inch, "Detroit" five-spoke wheels, made for Jaguar by BBS (and optional on any XK-series Jag) shod with Pirelli P Zero tires (255/35ZR-20 front, 285/30ZR-20 rear). And then there are further chassis tweaks--resized front and rear anti-roll bars, increased spring rates, retuned power steering gear--which energize turn-in and improve steering weight and feel.
A few other noteworthy touches figure into the accounting, including a unique platinum silver paint job, hefty Silverstone badging, charcoal leather with red stitching throughout the cabin, the requisite kick-ass sound system, and stunning dark gray bird's-eye maple veneer (which doesn't exactly grow on trees, now, does it?).
When you live in Michigan, nothing seems more absurd on our frost-heaved highways than twenty-inch wheels with barely enough rubber wrapping them to cushion a speed bump. California's temperate climate and the controlled asphalt of Willow Springs Raceway was amusing as hell for a few screaming runs, the monster meats gobbling up pavement like nobody's business and the big Brembos calling a halt to the proceedings with noticeable authority. It's a big mothership, after all, and once you've had the best aftermarket brakes on the planet working for you, you feel a little naked out there without them.
Brave Jaguar mailed a Silverstone coupe to us in Michigan, and things got a little rockier, as you can imagine. But hear this from our young, car-crazed copy editor Matt Phenix: "I found the Silverstone coupe to be surprisingly supple over broken pavement. It's no magic carpet, to be sure, but I didn't lose any fillings, either. And damn, don't it look cool."
He's such a pushover, but he's right. It is so beautiful and bad-looking that you just may have to own one.