Commemorative and limited edition automobiles are nothing new. In fact, the word “limited” in limited edition has become so ambiguous, it often means the exact opposite. But not in this case. Built to honor Jaguar’s entry into Formula One racing, only 250 of these XKR Silverstones are destined for North America. Now that’s pretty limited, but when it comes to pure driving performance with pleasure, this commemorative cat is anything but. So we headed to the fast two-miles of Roebling Road Raceway just outside Savannah, Georgia. Where we could safely unleash the 2001 Jaguar XKR Silverstone without evil speed traps limiting our progress. And with its sleek and graceful feline form riding on huge 20 inch BBS “Detroit”-style alloy paws padded with Pirelli P Zero rubber, progress never looked so sweet. Or felt so good! Because under the hood is Jag’s most powerful mainstream production engine in the company’s history. It’s a supercharged and intercooled, 4.0 liter, twin-cam, 32- valve, aluminum AJ-V8. And it produces 370 horsepower and 387 pound-feet of torque. Smooth and deceptively fast, our drivers consistently scratched out 4.9 second runs to 60, and Roebling’s quarter mile passed in 13.2 seconds at 109 mph. A half second faster than the XKR we tested in Maryland a year ago. Power hits hard right from the start, reaching its peak at just 3600 rpm. But with the supercharger’s 11.6 psi of boost, there’s plenty of neck-snapping umph in the upper powerband as well. Power is fed through a 5-speed automatic transmission with normal and sport modes. When driving in a civilized manner, shifts are nearly seamless. But in thrust-and-parry driving, shifts feel somewhat vague and inconsistent. And the clever J-gated shifter is becoming vintage, although it does feature a manual shift mode for invigorating driving. But there’s nothing vintage about the rest of the Silverstone. As this cat’s suspension has been tweaked for those who enjoy driving with great gusto. The independent front suspension uses unequal-length upper and lower wishbones that connect to a fully isolated aluminum crossbeam. The diameter of the Silverstone’s front anti-roll bar has been increased to 26 millimeters, with a 34 percent increase in spring rates over the standard XKR. In the back, the Silverstone’s driveshafts act as upper links, with wishbones underneath. And to maintain balance, the anti-roll bar has actually been decreased by 2 millimeters to 15. Rear spring rates, however, have been increased by 15 percent. Shock movement all around is controlled by Jag’s Computer Active Technology Suspension. But Silverstone coupes get a Performance Handling Pack that recalibrates the system for tauter handling. It also lowers the ride height by 10mm. What all this suspension-speak means is the Silverstone grips the track like a cat on a velvet sofa. We did find more high speed dive and roll than was obvious at our home drag strip, but the variable-ratio speed-sensitive power steering has also been tweaked to allow for aggressive, yet almost effortless, driving. Turn ins are spot on, but at speed understeer is prevalent, creating the need for some minor mid-corner corrections. Still, this cat is capable of carrying some serious velocity through the twisties. And it was while under the influence of G forces that go hand in hand with said velocity that our drivers discovered a lack of lateral support in the otherwise very comfortable leather buckets. You’ll slide around more than the car does. Tasteful red stitching highlights set the Silverstone interior apart from standard XKRs and nicely complement the stained bird’s-eye maple wood trim. As before, controls throughout the cockpit fall easily to hand and don’t require an engineering degree to decipher. There are rear seats but space is so tight even children tire of the confinement on short trips. But then again, this car is not about hauling sprouts to soccer games. It’s about an adult passion for driving, fatigue-free long distance cruising, and the sweet whine of supercharged prowess. And in those areas, the Silverstone lives large. But in the harsh reality of everyday driving, there will be times when it’s necessary to slow down. And there, the Silverstone has you amply covered too. With a set of Brembo 4-piston brake calipers originally designed for the XK 180 concept. And they hug huge 14 and 13 inch front and rear cross-drilled rotors. We averaged stops from 60 in a mere 103 feet. But as you might expect, all this limited edition luxury and performance doesn’t come cheap. MSRP on the Silverstone coupe is a healthy $95,905. The Silverstone can also be had in a convertible edition, that in its solidity, takes virtually nothing away from the coupe except, of course, the top. It lists for slightly more at $97,500. The 2001 Jaguar XKR Silverstone coupe and convertible are fitting tributes to the legendary British race course where Jaguar racing made its claim to fame. As for the fortunate 250 owners who will be piloting these big cats, we’re already turning green with envy ö British racing green, naturally.
Engine: 4.0 Liter Twin-cam 32- Valve, Aluminum Aj-v8
Torque: 387 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 4.9 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 13.2 Seconds @ 109 MPH
60-0 MPH: 103 Feet
EPA Mileage: 16 MPG City 22 MPG Highway