What is it?
The XKR 75 may be saddled with a somewhat ham-fisted name – one that reflects how many such cars Jaguar will produce over the next year or so – but it’s also the fastest production Jaguar in history, assuming you don’t count the largely hand-assembled XJ220 of yesteryear. In many ways, it’s the car Jaguar has always wanted to build but has never quite had the courage to do so.
Having said that, on paper the 75 doesn’t appear to be that much more thrusting than the regular XKR, despite costing a full £10k more than the regular model at £85,500. The key mechanical differences involve the engine, suspension and exhaust.
Officially the 75 has another 20bhp and 26lb ft more than the XKR on which it is based. The suspension is also lower and stiffer while the exhaust has been replaced with a sports item that is both louder and more free-flowing – all of which sounds fairly predictable on the surface, and perhaps not entirely deserving of another 10 grand.
What’s it like?
In reality, the 75 feels like an entirely different animal compared with the regular XKR. Quite apart from the styling upgrades – which are subtle in isolation but make it look far more purposeful when viewed collectively – the claimed engine outputs are, shall we say, on the gentle side of conservative according to insiders.
Rumour has it that the actual outputs are nearer 540bhp and 515lb ft, hence the reason the 0-60mph time has tumbled to 4.4sec while the 0-100mph sprint now takes just 8.9sec. And the chassis? “We went to town with it really” explains Jaguar’s engineering uber-lord, Mike Cross. “We were still keen to keep the car driveable; to maintain the Jaguar feel. But what we wanted to create was a car that you could drive to the Nurburgring in, set a decent lap time (as in sub eight minutes), and still drive home feeling totally comfortable with.”
Which is why, despite the springs being 28/32 per cent stiffer front and rear, and the ride height being 15/10mm lower front/rear, the 75 still feels instantly like a Jag during those crucial first few moments on the move. Although its exhaust delivers a rousing burst of revs when you fire it up, it settles quickly to a smooth, if fairly potent idle. It’s a mood that is reflected throughout the entire driving experience.
Is it disappointing to discover that there are precisely no changes to the cabin to distinguish it beyond a regular XKR inside? In an obvious sense, yes. Then again, there’s not a whole lot wrong with the XK’s interior, particularly if you throw every available option at it as standard as Jaguar has in this instance.
On the move, it’s hard to see how the XKR 75 could be significantly bettered as an ultra-rapid 2+2 GT car, even by rivals such as the Porsche 911 and Aston Martin V8 Vantage. But then the XKR 75 is a quite incredibly well rounded car dynamically, one with which the Aston will always struggle to compete.
Take the way it steers. As ever with Jaguars, the power assistance is quite strong, which means the amount of physical effort required to turn the wheel is unusually light. But once you get used to this and realise that there is feel there, that there is a subtle resistance present, the way in which you interact with the car becomes altogether more cerebral.