2007 Jaguar XK Series

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Review: 2007 Jaguar XKR

By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Rating: 7.25
Pros:
  • Pretty looks
  • Awesome power
  • It's a Jaguar, for goodness sakes
Cons:
  • Visibility isn't the best with convertible roof on
  • Who can sit in such tiny back seats?
  • Difficult to stay within speed limits

I didn't look even mildly attractive the day the 2007 Jaguar XKR showed up in my driveway.

But in my fleece lounge pants, an old pair of tennies, a sweatshirt and big jacket, I still felt a jolt of exhilaration and ego when I impulsively slid inside the sleek, supercharged Jaguar convertible.

No wonder the British automaker has been using an ad campaign called "Gorgeous" for its XK cars. How can someone look unattractive while sitting in one of these?

My next question was more practical: How can a driver stick to the speed limit in this nearly $100,000 car?

With 120 more horsepower—for a total of 420 horses—than an already speedy, V8-powered, 2007 Jaguar XK, the sporty XKR gets going fast and keeps a fast pace.

Fastest production Jaguar
Jaguar's 2007 XKR, with a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price nearing $86,000 for a coupe and $92,000 for a convertible, is the revamped flagship of the British brand.

Some in the company call it Jaguar's "pace car," and after driving the XKR—the fastest production Jaguar ever—I can understand why they use the racing terminology.

For the first time, the XKR has a lightweight, aluminum monocoque body. The styling is new, too, following on the updated, sleeker look of the lower-priced XK that debuted as a new-generation car in 2005.

The XKR's sophisticated suspension is the best ever, the supercharged V8 more powerful than ever, and inside, the new XKR has improved front sport seats with better bolsters to keep riders in place.

Forget about fuel mileage
It's not likely to impress environmentalists, but the new XKR has a tad higher government fuel economy rating than its predecessor: 17 miles a gallon in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway.

Premium unleaded gasoline is the recommended fuel.

A pretty sports car?
Though the XKR handles and feels like a sports car, it's pretty.

And "pretty" usually isn't a word associated with sports cars, as many women will attest.

The Jaguar-esque styling, with long, low hood and cues of earlier XKs, is one of the unique qualities of the XKR, because while this car can feel thrilling to drive, it doesn't look like a male-only car.

Some consumers even mistook the test XKR, with its prominent aluminum mesh grille and hood vents, for a pricier Aston Martin.

The XKR interior doesn't have to look like it's lifted from some macho decorator's sketch, as I've seen in some other sports cars.

There were generous amounts of glossy burl walnut and smooth leather, stitched just so, even on the dashboard and door trim of the test car.

These materials, plus the warm beige color of the seats, carpeting and ceiling, gave the car a welcoming appeal. (Metallic trim accents also are offered for a more techy look.)

The fully-lined and insulated roof is all power-operated and did a great job keeping out sounds from noisy, nearby vehicles as I drove.

The roof goes up and down, even if the car isn't put in the "park" gear.

The 19-inch tires conveyed some road noise, though I didn't notice wind noise as I drove the XKR.

Jaguar officials stuff a couple "seats" into the XKR back seat. But at 5 feet 4, I couldn't sit there and even children would have a tough time.

Other real-life experiences
I wanted to drive with the top down, even on brisk days, for more than one reason: Besides enjoying the open-air environment, I could see better.

The rear glass window in the XKR convertible is small. Additionally, I couldn't see a thing to the right and rear of the car as I backed up the XKR from parking spots, because the rear pillar of the roof is thick.

Other nits: The navigation system display in the middle of the dashboard got washed out in sunlight to the point that I couldn't use it.

The XKR sits low to the pavement, so I had to slide downward to get inside, and I looked up at bumpers of trucks, sport utilities and even some cars as I drove.

The pronounced front air dam was at the front of the XKR is so low, it could scrape on concrete delineators in parking spots.

More from the engine
Jaguar boosted the performance of the new XKR in two ways.

With the aluminum body replacing the old steel one, the XKR coupe is 154 pounds lighter than its predecessor, and the convertible is 220 pounds lighter.

This means the engine doesn't have as much weight to move down the road.

Secondly, the AJ-V8, which has been Jaguar's engine for the past several years, is improved.

It's 4.2 liters, like its predecessor, but the XKR's powerplant with Eaton supercharger now has twin air intakes—air mixes with gasoline to help create power in an engine.

Jaguar also added variable intake valve timing to increase horsepower by 30 over last year's XKR. Torque now peaks at 413 lb-ft at 4000 rpm, up from last year's 399 lb-ft at 3900 rpm.

Power surged seductively and smoothly in the test car. It was not at all raw and edgy. And it quickly lulled me into believing I wasn't really traveling that fast.

But, alas, I was. The only solution was keeping an eye on the speedometer nearly all the time and getting used to the feeling that I was dawdling as I cruised the neighborhood at the speed limit.

Well, I consoled myself, I guess even gorgeous folks have to slow down now and then.

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BB05 - 4/16/2014 9:08:04 PM