2009 Jaguar XK Series

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Tech Review: 2007 Jaguar XKR

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2014.
By Doug Newcomb of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

The XKR Coupe proves that the cat is back.
Pros:
  • Excellent premium audio sound with sophisticated signal processing
  • Sharp and clear graphics on a 7-inch touch-screen display
  • Easy-to-use navigation system
Cons:
  • Touch-screen controls are initially difficult to use
  • Steering-wheel audio controls are too close together
  • Bluetooth hands-free phone system was frustrating to use

If there are any lingering doubts about Jaguar's recent renaissance after years of stodgy design and substandard quality, the 2007 XKR Coupe proves that Jag is once again capable of leading the sports car pack.

The XKR Coupe I test drove, with a sticker price of $99,575, exhibited feline grace due to its lightweight aluminum chassis and produced a menacing growl courtesy of a supercharged 420-horsepower 4.2-liter V8 engine.

The XKR Coupe also benefits from practical tech features that fit well with its refined high-performance. The model I tested came with a DVD navigation system, Bluetooth hands-free phone capability, adaptive cruise control, adaptive front lighting, and the interior was comfortable and quiet enough to hear the Alpine-branded premium audio system purr or roar.

Top-Shelf Audio
The $1,875 top-shelf Alpine audio option is comprised of eight speakers powered by 525 watts and includes sophisticated signal processing. The speakers include a 6.5-inch mid-bass in each door and in each rear side panel next to the tiny back seat, a pair of 0.8-inch tweeters at each end of the dash, a 4.7-inch speaker in the center of the dash, and a 6.5-inch subwoofer in the front passenger-side footwell.

An in-dash six-disc CD changer that also plays MP3/WMA-encoded discs is located below a 7-inch LCD touch-screen display used to control the audio system as well as the navigation system and climate controls.

The touch screen uses Macromedia Flash animation for sharp and clear graphics, but I initially found the controls not very intuitive to use and the various menus difficult to navigate. But Jaguar thoughtfully provides a "home" button below screen that allows quickly getting back to square one if you get lost.

Volume up/down and track/station up/down controls are also included on the left side of the steering wheel via a unique jog dial that has a nice feel. But because the two controls are spaced tightly together and are the same size, more than once I hit the wrong control and inadvertently changed tracks instead of cranking the volume—just as I was starting to really enjoy a particular song.

Below the steering-wheel volume and track controls are buttons to change the audio source (on the right) and activate the Bluetooth hands-free feature (on the right). Similarly arranged cruise-control switches occupy the opposite side of the steering wheel.

Three Channel Mode
Included with the audio system are Dolby Pro Logic II and a unique "three-channel" sound-processing mode. I much preferred the latter since it created a more expansive and convincing stereo image.

Listening to Alejandro Escovedo's "Thirteen Years," a CD I've used to evaluate hundreds of sound systems over the years, I was able to discern subtle parts of the music in three-channel mode that many systems typically mask. The track "Helpless," for example, features an eclectic mix of instruments—dobro, trombone, and organ—and in the XKR each was well-defined and balanced in the mix. The XKR also included SIRIUS Satellite Radio, which sounded great and the stations were easy to access.

One of my few gripes is that, as with some other recent Jaguar models and at least one other Alpine-branded Jag system I've tested, I was able to max out the volume. More than once I wanted to crank it up, only to find that the volume was at its highest setting—something that never happens with most of the audio systems I've evaluated.

Useful Tech
The XKR's standard equipment navigation system worked almost flawlessly. The touch-screen controls made the nav system simple to use and the screen's graphics were easy to discern at a glance. I had the opposite experience with the Bluetooth hands-free phone system, however. I found the interface difficult to use and could never get my BlackBerry to sync.

Some of the most useful tech on the XKR, however, had nothing to do with entertainment, convenience and communication and everything to do with enjoying the drive. This included the Sequential Shift paddles on the steering wheel that allow quick fingertip control of the six-speed automatic transmission and adaptive cruise control, which makes highway driving in heavy traffic a lot less frustrating.

The adaptive front bi-xenon headlights help you see what's around the bend on a twisty road at night, while the Reverse Park Control warns of objects behind you when the car is shifted in reverse. But with the poor rear visibility of the XKR, a back-up camera would be even better.

The Cat Is Back
Sitting behind the wheel of the '07 Jaguar XKR Coupe in heated power front seats and surrounded by a sea of soft leather and snazzy aluminum weave accents, it feels like you're in a high-tech mobile. And smart features like the DVD navigation system and sophisticated audio system add to the overall experience. Combined with rocket-like propulsion and feline reflexes, the '07 XKR Coupe proves in no uncertain terms that the cat is back.

Doug Newcomb has been writing about car electronics since 1988, as editor of Car Audio and Electronics, Car Stereo Review, Mobile Entertainment, Road & Track Road Gear and as a freelance writer. His new book, Car Audio for Dummies, is available from Wiley Publications. He lives in Hood River, Oregon.

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BB05 - 4/23/2014 12:58:15 PM