While Jaguar has one of the most enviable racing and sports car pedigrees of them all, they spent much of the period from the 1970s into the New Millennium building big, and sometimes lousy, luxury cars. Over the last few years, though, Jaguar has luckily been embracing some of its performance heritage, especially with the gorgeous XK. The storied British carmaker has been coming out with progressively hotter versions of the XK over the last few years, and their latest offering has gone a step further. A development of the XKR-S, this new XKR-S GT was developed by Jaguar's Engineered to Order division and is an exercise in chassis dynamics, aerodynamics, and suspension tuning that will hopefully make its way into the other Jaguars of the future.
The engine is largely unchanged from the standard XKR-S, and still makes a whopping 550 horsepower and 502 lb/ft of torque that will take the taut Jaguar to sixty miles per hour in 3.9 seconds and reach an electronically limited top speed of 186 miles per hour. The real changes are actually in the realms of handling and braking. The front and rear arms as well as the rear subframe are all new, and with an adjustable damping system the owner can tweak the ride height. Brakes are now by vented carbon ceramic discs, and 20-inch forged aluminum wheels complete the look on that part of the car.
The rest of the car can be distinghiushed by the carbon fiber splitter on the front, dive planes on the front wheel arches, and diffuser coupled with wing on the rear. The customer has no choice in color, unfortunately, as all XKR-S GT's will be offered in white. The interior, meanwhile really does seem too luxurious for such a track-oriented machine, but a nice atmosphere on the inside is and has always been one of Jaguar's specialties. Lots of suede, leather, and red stitching make for an overall nice place to be. Another thing that's out of place on this car is the disappointing six-speed automatic gearbox. It does have a sequential option and aluminum paddle shifters, but it still would have been nice to have some options.
Jaguar will only build somewhere between thirty and fifty of these cars, and many traditional Jaguar folks will probably think that this is a good thing.
The boy-racer looks of the XKR-S GT come across as vulgar to those used to a Jag being defined by its elegance and grace, but the truth is that for Jaguar to gain back some of its former sportiness, it needs to conduct exercises like this. Not everyone will like these enough to want to buy one, but a few dozen will, and they will surely enjoy flogging their loud V-8 Jag at any track day they can get to.