Jaguar is introducing new performance options for its XJ sedan, so the company decided to use a few of these luxury limos as taxis. That sounds like a waste of a perfectly good car, but these XJs will not be dodging potholes in New York or Los Angeles. Instead, they will give people rides around the Nurburgring, the roughly 14-mile-long German racetrack where car companies hone their high performance models.
Known alternately as “the ‘Ring” and the “Green Hell,” the Nurburgring is where car companies go to test performance models like the Cadillac CTS-V and Lexus LFA. It’s also open to the public. For about $35, any driver can show up in any car (or on any bike) and go for a lap. Since the ‘Ring is one of the most challenging tracks in the world, not everyone is skilled enough to go solo. That’s why the track’s owners keep a fleet of “‘Ring Taxis” handy.
The taxis are usually BMW M5s, but Jaguar decided that shuttling passengers around a 14-mile racetrack was the best way to show off its newly enhanced XJ; the big Jag definitely seems up to the task. The company’s Sport Pack and Speed Pack are added to the top-of-the-line XJ Supersport model, which has a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 with 510 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque. It can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, and has an (electronically limited) top speed of 155 mph.
On top of that comes the new Sport Pack. This options package includes aerodynamic tweaks, which should keep the XJ planted as it negotiates the ‘Ring’s many corners, and sport seats, which should do the same for the driver and passenger. The new 20-inch, five-spoke wheels are just for looks. Buyers can then opt for the Speed Pack, which reprograms the car’s electronic limiter, raising the top speed to 174 mph.
In addition, the ‘Ring Taxi XJs will get some modifications that are not available through a dealership. The stock seats are replaced with racing buckets and four-point harnesses. The cars will also be equipped with roll cages, as an added safety measure.
A Nurburgring-ready XJ will probably sticker for slightly more than the Supersport’s $118,575 asking price. Even a short ride in one could be expensive. A ride in the current M5 taxi costs about $280 (not including airfare to Germany), and there is a months-long waiting list.That’s why most would-be racers will have to settle for a videogame controller, instead of a steering wheel.