2007 Jaguar XK
Stunning – my thought upon first seeing the Jaguar XK coupe. Let’s add breathtaking, just for good measure. And that was before starting the motor.
This cat purrs.
I immediately headed off to a meeting some 45 miles away, wondering if I shouldn’t just keep going past my exit and skip the meeting. I was too busy noticing the powerful, naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 motor, the fast throttle response, and the tight cornering to think about sitting in a conference room for several hours. The exit was coming up. Yes, I’ll go. After all, I couldn’t keep a car like this just to myself now, could I?
Before the XK arrived, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. My experience with recent vintage Jaguars was that they were no more than gussied-up Fords. Since being acquired by Ford in 1989, Jaguar has had its ups and downs.
Ford made great enormous improvements in Jaguar’s quality and reliability. (Like other British motorcar manufacturers, Jaguar had used electrical parts from Lucas, aptly nicknamed “the Prince of Darkness” by the cognoscenti.) But under Ford, Jaguar seemed unable to create the right car at the right time, That is, of course, until now.
Yet the future of Jaguar may be far from certain, what with 15 years of losses, and billions spent in rebuilding Jaguar factories and engineering new models. But with the 2007 XK, the folks at Coventry seem to have recaptured the glory days of Jaguar. The XK’s design harkens back to the original XKs of the 1950s and the C-, D-, and E-types and it is lighter and faster, not to mention better equipped, than the model it replaced (the previous XK was introduced in 1996).
The beautiful lines and front power vents demonstrate that the spirit of founder Sir William Lyons is alive and well at Jaguar.
Inside, the driver is surrounded by finely-stitched leather everywhere (including the doors, instrument panel and center console, part of the Luxury Package), rich burl walnut wood (or aluminum veneer with the Aluminum Luxury Package), and elegant high-tech trim surfaces. The instrument panel, with two large round dials for speedometer and tachometer on either side of a color display that shows a variety of information ranging from gear selection to tire pressure, was placed just right.
The optional 525-watt, 8-speaker Alpine sound system, even with Dolby ProLogic II surround sound, sounded more Ford than Jaguar. It does support MP3 and Windows Media Player format music via the CD player but lacks a USB or iPod connection. My test car was equipped with the optional Sirius satellite radio.
A seven-inch touchscreen, controlling audio, telephone, climate, and satellite navigation, was easy enough to use although the touchscreen required the driver’s full attention and much of its functionality was not available when the car was in motion. The tabbed interface made it easy to find most functions, although its inconsistencies could be frustrating at times, especially for the satellite radio. The satellite navigation system, which shared the tabbed interface metaphor, was easy to use and got me where I needed to go.
Telematics was the car’s weak point.
Pairing my Bluetooth-enabled phone, in this case a Research in Motion BlackBerry Pearl, became an exercise in futility: the request to enter a passkey would simply not display on the Pearl.
I later discovered that half of the mobile phones on Jaguar’s “XK Compatibility Listing” are listed as “not recommended.” I had to try at least five mobile phones before one would even pair (a Motorola Razr won out). (Jaguar is planning a software update for the XK, to be released in June, that will expand compatibility to BlackBerry devices as to certain other mobile phones.)
Without a voice command system, placing phone calls required the use of the touchscreen. While I don’t advocate long in-car calls that divert your attention from the road, placing calls from the car is a fact of life for the business traveler. The touchscreen is far from ideal as a user interface for dialing when driving.
Unlike the competition (Mercedes offers TeleAid, BMW offers Assist, and OnStar is available in virtually every GM vehicle including Saab), Jaguar has no in-vehicle emergency communications and automatic collision notification system. This is not an inconsequential issue. In fact, such systems are now considered to be so important that the European Union has mandated their installation in every vehicle[BA1] starting in 2009.
A study by the European Union showed that such systems provide a 50% reduction in average emergency response time in urban areas and a 40% reduction in average response time in rural areas.
COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE
Jaguar bills this as a 2+2 sports car but the rear seats are more decorative than useful.
The Jaguar Smart Key System provides keyless start (the driver merely pushes the start button); keyless entry is optional but a highly recommended feature.
Forward Alert works with the optional Adaptive Cruise Control’s forward-facing sensors to scan the road ahead ten times every second to warn the driver of potential hazards.
In addition to standard bi-xenon lighting, Jaguar offers an active front lighting system that swivels the headlights during higher speed cornering, enhancing safety and visibility.
Jaguar does offer an industry-standard four-year warranty but only offers one year of free maintenance (only BMW still offers four years of free scheduled maintenance).
The XK is the most technically advanced Jaguar ever built. It uses Jaguar’s Lightweight Vehicle Technology, the all-aluminum architecture introduced with the latest XJ sedan and was developed from aircraft industry techniques.
At 3,671 pounds, the 300 hp XK was no lightweight but it managed to do 0-60 mph in a respectable 5.9 seconds. The supercharged XKR, which costs $11,000 over the base model, adds 120 additional horses and manages to do 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds. Convertible XK and XKR models are also available.
I found the XK fast, agile, and exhilarating – a hard combination to beat in a car that provides such luxurious surrounds. The XK is a true Jaguar in the best sense of the Jaguar tradition, a grand touring coupe that possesses the driving dynamics of a sports car. With its fine craftsmanship and beauty, it is easy to imagine finding excuses to schedule meetings that one has to drive long distances to.
For the business traveler, there remains one problem: after a nice long drive, how do you wipe that ear-to-ear grin off your face when walking into a meeting?
2007 Jaguar XK
Base price/price-as-tested $75,500/$88,000
Drivetrain Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine 4.2-liter/300 hp/32-valve V-8
Transmission 6-speed ZF electronic automatic transmission with Jaguar Sequential Shift with paddle shifts with a choice of ´Drive,´ ´Sport Auto,´ or ´Sport Manual´ modes
Curb weight 3,671 lbs
Wheelbase 108.3 in
Length x width x height 188.6 x 81.5 x 52.0
0-60 mph 5.9 seconds
EPA city/highway fuel economy (mpg) 18/27
–Jonathan B. Spira is the Editor of Executive Road Warrior and Chief Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.