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TCC: 2007 Jaguar XK Coupe/Convertible Review

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2007 Jaguar XK Coupe/Convertible

Gorgeous, yes — but technically tight, too.

by Marty Padgett (2006-02-01)

In the rarified sphere of luxury cars, brands stay relevant as long as buyers believe they stand for one or two simple things. Lexus' hallmark is impeccable reliability, while BMW's is sporting attitude. Audi has sleek design and all-wheel drive to its credit, while Mercedes-Benz still carries the purple aura of Teutonic engineering despite what we in the South would call "the recent unpleasantness."

At Jaguar, the keyword of the day, as you might know from some fluffy high-gloss ads, is "gorgeous." But underlying that airy, accurate notion is something more substantial, and nearly as light: aluminum. Aluminum construction has changed the XJ sedan from a slight, ponderous sedan into a strong, sleek animal. And this year the already gorgeous XK undergoes an aluminum-based transformation that effects the same kind of change, making it quicker, roomier, and lighter than the former XK8.

The new XK coupe and convertible have reclaimed the edge lost to the last two generations of Jaguar sportscars, and tight bodies are two reasons for it. Two reasons? The XK is rigidly built and beautiful to behold - but it also comes as either a hardtop or a ragtop. The two versions can be quite different in character. As a convertible, the XK is almost femme, with poplar trim and 18-inch wheels and sensuous leather trim. In Coupe shape it's a credible alternative to a cramped, noisy 911 what with its 20-inch wheels, aluminum trim, muscular engine note, and masculine stance.

Since Jaguar steered away from making the XK a hardtop convertible, you'll have to make your choice early, now, won't you?

A real growler

Supple power is a must in any luxury vehicle. Common to both XKs is the superb Jaguar 4.2-liter V-8 that pours our 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque on a moment's notice. It's a breathy powerplant and snaps to attention with a ready growl. The exhaust has semi-active control for the tune it sings, a muted burble at low speeds and a ripping roar near redline.

The new sequential gearbox has six speeds and three basic modes of operation. In automatic mode it's smooth, with almost imperceptible shifts. Push its shift lever left into Sport mode and things get noticeably crisper underfoot - it holds low gears for engine braking, downshifts before corners, and responds more eagerly.

The shift paddles located at fingertip reach on the back of the steering wheel can be used to activate manual shift mode at any time - though if you're in Drive, the transmission will revert to automatic mode on its own or if the upshift paddle is held. When in Sport mode, the paddle-shifting only has a few overrides, such as shifts at redline. Jaguar says its shifts are quicker than any of the sequential units from BMW or Audi - and for sure, the immediate downshifts in Sport mode through the paddles can be breathtaking in their brevity and in their smoothness.

With this sole powertrain the XK Coupe shoots to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, nearly as fast as the outgoing XKR. The convertible is a tick slower at 6.0 seconds. Both are limited to a top speed of 155 mph.

CATS with better music

Beautiful styling is the first reason buyers will consider the XK. Who would blame them? The other cars in this class are alien-looking creatures: XLR, 645, and SL. The XK is the sole organic shape - hippy, voluptuous, and unabashedly sensual.

So it's fitting that the subtext is all about the XK's lightweight body, and that its aerospace rivet-and-glue bonding gives it better torsional stiffness than the BMW or Benz. And that it weighs less than the smaller Volvo C70. The body is stunning to observe in motion - or not in motion, since the wiggles that afflicted the XK8 have been banished to whatever British outpost might still exist. The unbelievably stiff body of the convertible suffers hardly a tremor or vibration through the windshield frame. The convertible, which Jaguar designed first, improves on the XK8's torsional stiffness by 48 percent though the body itself weighs 20 percent less.

With a structure so stolid, the jobs of the steering, brakes, and suspension get a little easier. The XK amplifies its own lightness of being through the controls. No autobahn anvil on wheels, the XK's steering is anti-911 light and clean, though the 18-inch wheels keep a good margin of feeling on center that's lost on cars with the optional 20-inch wheels.

The 18-inchers offer up a noticeably easier ride too, with the help of Jaguar's Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS). CATS helps flatten out the road with electronically controlled hydraulic valves that adjust the shocks. For the new model, Jaguar updated the system's responses so that each shock is adjusted individually so that body roll can be limited through the system, too. With its thankfully hydraulic-boosted steering and strong, huge disc brakes, the XK's performance envelope feels far more comfortable to push to its limits than any Jaguar before.

A little more English

From inside the cockpit, it's unthinkable that the controls and finishes of the XK are anything but a Jaguar. The airplane-wing shape of the dash, the fully wrapped leather interior, and especially the dulcet voice emanating from the DVD navigation system put you squarely in the English sphere no matter in which hemisphere you find yourself.

Somehow Jaguar has managed to avoid the twin diseases of iDrive-style controllers and needlessly complex arrays of buttons. Granted, there is the dreaded, clichéd Start button on the console, but instead of myriad switches the XK uses a touch-screen multimedia interface along with redundant buttons and knobs to make it obvious how bad the click-wheel-type vehicle controllers really are. With the new interface, Jaguar says you're never more than three steps away from any function - whether it's changing your destination, your media, or the temperature inside. It simply operates the way such a device should - as if Apple had thought it out for the auto industry.

On convertibles, a single button controls the power top, which opens or closes in 18 seconds. It's triple-layered in fabric, with a glass rear window, and it stows invisibly.

There's more room in the cabin, particularly in the footwells. The seats have adjustable bolsters, but they're still from the firm-and-flat school, though less confining than the XK8. The rears are pretty much the same leather-clad purse platforms they've always been. Jaguar buyers, when asked, said they didn't want a more practical car, so a full 2+2 model was scotched early on.

Jaguar promises best-in-class safety performance. The list of devices enlisted in that effort sounds fit for a Mercedes-fighter, minus all the acronyms. The XK has side airbags (though side curtain airbags aren't offered), anti-lock brakes, traction control, and stability control. That system has three modes: off; Trac DSC, which allows more yaw/slip for sporty driving; and standard mode.

The XK also has a couple of features uncommon today but on the horizon for convertibles and sportscars. The pop-up rollover bars, like those in the new Volvo C70, crash through the rear glass of the convertible at a preset rollover angle - but you can still "Dukes of Hazzard" the XK to a queasy degree on two wheels before that happens, engineers say. It also sports a hood that uses airbag explosives to lift the hood of the car in an accident to create more space between the hood and the engine, a new European regulation meant to limit pedestrian injuries in car-human accidents.

A real Caper

The roads of South Africa's Western Cape region proved out the XK's newfound mission to be two cars in one: a convertible with effortless performance and a coupe with a more pronounced sportscar edge. Unflappable at triple-digit speeds, the XK bristles with the confidence of a league leader.

While most of the former XK8's charm came from its woody interior and lissome looks, the new XK gets nods for gusto. It grabs as much pavement as it can, responding to every subtle command you deliver. Blip the throttle and it snarls back; paddle it down two gears for the next corner and it takes a flat, unruffled set for the corner ahead. Switch off the traction control and it's ready to play, with wheelspin to make a GTO jealous and supremely composed responses. It's as delightful to drive fast as it is to see disappearing on the curves ahead in the road - a view designer Ian Callum wants you to see often.

With the windblocker and windows up, the XK Convertible's cabin is reasonably quiet. Conversations are possible, and a light ruffling of your hair or hair substitute is the sole reminder you'll be sunburned later.

And in either hardtop or ragtop, you'll be swaddled in enough gear to please almost every sensory organ. DVD navigation, keyless start, xenon headlamps, six-disc in-dash CD changer, rear parking assist, Bluetooth compatibility - they're all standard. Options include 19-inch wheels with run-flat tires or 20-inch wheels (21s will be an accessory) and a fully wrapped leather interior.

Times may be tight at Ford, but the XK signifies the magnitude of the great patient changes at Jaguar. With the XK and the promises of a revamped XJ and S-Type, it's evident that Dearborn has done right by Jaguar by investing in good design and world-class technology to endow the brand with real meaning.

The XK goes on sale in mid-April 2006.

2007 Jaguar XK

Base price: $75,500 Coupe, $81,500 Convertible

Engine: 4.2-liter V-8, 300 hp/310 lb-ft

Transmission: Six-speed automatic with shift paddles, rear-wheel drive

Length x width x height: 175.6 x 71.2 x 51.6 inches

Wheelbase: N/A

Curb weight: 3671 lb (coupe) 3759 lb (convertible)

Fuel economy (EPA city/hwy): 25 mpg (est. combined)

Safety equipment: Dual front and side airbags; anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control; deployable hood/pedestrian protection

Major standard equipment: DVD navigation, keyless start, xenon headlamps, six-disc in-dash CD changer, rear parking assist, Bluetooth compatibility

Warranty: Four years/50,000 miles

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Link: http://www.thecarconnection.com/Vehicle_Re...S184.A9956.html

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Nothing about the front says "Jaguar" or even "luxury coupe," for that matter. The interior, on the other hand, is beautiful.

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Nothing about the front says "Jaguar" or even "luxury coupe," for that matter.  The interior, on the other hand, is beautiful.

i would have to agree with that assessment.

at first i hated the exterior but admit i am warming up to it. its like a hybrid between a 6 series coupe and an Aston. And maybe some maserati.

so i'm ok with it. where's the Lexus coupe?

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I really don't like the front end; huge bugeyed headlights and the Taurus grill. However, the rest looks pretty good and the interior is fantastic. Shame about the enigne; 300 HP doesn't really cut it.

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my guess is the 300hp mill is a placeholder until the S/C XJ mill goes in.

i think if Jag fixes the front end they wouldbe doing ok, spruce up the interior door panels a bit too.

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It never ceases to amaze me............... how many people think the front looks like a Taurus. Have these people NEVER seen any classic Jags???

In person, it looks all Jag. That anyone could see anything else, is simply amazing to me.

Helpful hint............. the world of automotivedom (my new word) did not start in 1986.

Edited by 01LightningGal

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It never ceases to amaze me............... how many people think the front looks like a Taurus. Have these people NEVER seen any classic Jags???

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It worked alot better on the old E-Type because the chrome bar in the grille connected the large chrome bumpers on the fenders. Plus, the new XK has that goofy, bulbous hood for idiotic EUROCAP pedestrian regs.

Now I absoltely love the current XK, age be damned. It has a sleek, muscular look to it and great lines all over. This new one, though? The front lacks so much character its not even funny. Plus, it looks like a Maserati.

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Plus, the new XK has that goofy, bulbous hood for idiotic EUROCAP pedestrian regs.

The XK has a pyrotechnic hood that should have negated any styling compromises.

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The thought of a 3,671 lb to 3,759 lb car being called "light" seems absurd. OTOH, many of the XJ's competitors now top two tons. :blink:

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the new line of jags, evidenced by this, should be interesting. that engine output may be paltry, but it's by no means outgunned, the XLR puts out the same power, with a less lavish interior and no rear seat area. The XK is starting to grow on me looks-wise, I didn't get the front end when it first landed on earth, now I'm starting to understand it more. In person, it should be much better.

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Nothing about the front says "Jaguar" or even "luxury coupe," for that matter.  The interior, on the other hand, is beautiful.

The grille is distinctly Jaguar...ever see an E-Type grille?

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The thought of a 3,671 lb to 3,759 lb car being called "light" seems absurd. OTOH, many of the XJ's competitors now top two tons.  :blink:

Yes, such is the cost of progress, I guess..all the safety gear and content add to the weight... but in the US, under 4000 lbs is a light weight vehicle, what with all the 5000-6000 lb SUVs around.

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