A new breed of Jaguar: 2007 XK coupe
The XK drives like a dream, but loyalists might miss the quirks.
(FORTUNE Small Business Magazine) - Nobody buys a Jaguar for transportation. Jags are all about glamour, style, and romance. Owners traditionally have put up with eccentricity and even inconvenience, as long as the car exuded Jaguar's aristocratic roadster personality.
This, then, is the paradox of the 2007 XK coupe, the latest descendant of the legendary E-type introduced in 1961 and considered an automotive icon. The new XK is unquestionably the most modern, well-built Jaguar ever produced. Those old jokes about poor Jaguar quality are out of date, and this one looks and feels rock-solid. Yet it lacks the individuality and specialness that has always set Jag apart from European competitors such as Audi, BMW, and Maserati.
Redesigning an icon
With its powerful haunches, the car looks the best from the rear. When viewed from the front it appears downright corporate - owing to an oval grille that unfortunately smacks of the Ford (Research) Taurus. (Ford is Jaguar's corporate parent.) Inside, the sensation is the same. The gauges are highly readable, and the touchscreen for audio and navigation controls is bright and functional. It marks a big improvement over the scrunched gauges and crazy-quilt controls of its predecessor, but there is nothing to signal that you're in a Jaguar. Wood trim, that essential accessory for a British car, doesn't come standard, and it was sadly missing from my test car.
But hope springs eternal, and when I fired up the 4.2-liter V-8, I was temporarily transported. The power delivery was smooth and impressive (60 miles an hour arrives in 5.9 seconds), the steering precise, the braking sure. This is a true grand touring car and very easy to drive. Yet something vital was lacking, perhaps those notes in the exhaust or the clatter of electric fuel pumps.
It is a tricky business - respecting your heritage while you move forward. In recent years Jaguar has done too much of the former and not enough of the latter. This time it may have erred in the other direction. The XK is a $75,000 car ($88,000 as tested) that can hold its own next to a Mercedes SL. But it still doesn't feel like what the British might call a proper Jaguar.
Gallery: Jaguar XK convertible
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