The 2011 Jaguar XK lineup features a new limited-edition model, though don't expect to see many of them. The Jaguar XKR 175 was designed celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Jaguar marque. Only 175 will be built, however, making it an exclusive model. The XKR 175 features special aerodynamic enhancements: front and rear spoilers, side sills and an air diffuser. It can go 175 mph, though we don't recommend testing this. It comes in Ultimate Black with contrasting red brake calipers that can be seen through 20-inch wheels. Inside are charcoal leather seats with cranberry stitching.
The Jaguar XK and XKR got superb new engines for 2010, along with some styling revisions. For 2011, Jaguar XK is unchanged, but it gets some new options, including adaptive cruise control.
The newly designed direct-injection 32-valve 5.0-liter engine, first introduced on the 2010 models, is made by Jaguar. The Jaguar engine is more compact than the previous Ford powerplant and it's very powerful. The XKR gets a blown version of the same engine. In the 385-horsepower XK, zero-to-60 acceleration time is 5.2 seconds, but in the 510-hp XKR it's 4.6 seconds, which is head-snapping fast. A new generation of Eaton supercharger, as well as a new air intake system, makes that visceral whine of the blower under hard acceleration a thing of the past (it's the price of progress); so when you floor it, you just shoot forward like a rocket, semi-silently. Watch out, because 100 mph comes in a couple of heartbeats.
The XK chassis was introduced for the 2007 model year, but it's still state of the art: aluminum monocoque, bonded and riveted, very lightweight and rigid. We found the result to be a sleek ride with no harsh spots and magnificent handling, with razor-sharp turn-in for corners and Gibraltar stability at Autobahn speeds. That's useful because the XK is long-legged and really hits its stride at 90 mph.
The brakes are outstanding. You can brake from 100-to-zero in mere heartbeats using the XKR's massive 15.7-inch rotors with six-piston calipers in front, and 13.8 inches with four-pots at the rear.
The 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is smooth and tight with rev-matching downshifting. Unlike so many, it isn't always changing gears for you. You can drive the XK aggressively and use the transmission like a manual gearbox, and it does well with crisp upshifts and throttle-blipping downshifts, especially when you turn the dial on the console to set the car to Sport mode. We are not fans of the Jaguar shift knob, however.
Fuel economy is an EPA-rated 16/22 City/Highway miles per gallon for the normally aspirated XK, 15/22 mpg for the supercharged XKR, although we only averaged 14 mpg in our 2011 Jaguar XKR because we were either creeping around town on stop-and-go errands, or running wide open on empty flat two-lanes where we could let 'er rip.
Inside is a classy cabin. We thought the Piano Black wood veneer looked sharp on our 2011 XKR. Instrumentation leans more toward luxury than sport, but then the XK itself leans that way, optional supercharger notwithstanding. Bucket seats are adjustable 16 ways including bolstering, so they work for large and small drivers who like to corner hard without being tossed out of the seat.