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XK REMARKABLE

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Published on Thu, Jan 29, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

XK REMARKABLE

By JOHN GRAFMAN

The question has been put before me countless times: What is your favorite car?

Typically the PC answer I give balances out the strengths of each vehicle. Accolades go to the best truck, SUV, wagon, sedan, sports car and the like. My rambling sounds much like any one of numerous other automotive publications. But the response never quite answers the question. I have a dilemma in coming to a logical conclusion with so many varied vehicles. That is, until I followed my heart instead of my head.

In just a few scant days, I found myself yearning to spend more time in the XKR. This is the bad boy of the Jaguar clan. I found it to offer terrible gas mileage and poor space accommodations to anyone other than the front occupants. We actually had a three-year-old gripe about the legroom in the rear seating area. The transmission shifter and the familiar J pattern - although it steps from one geared to the next - it never definitively clicks sequentially. Rather, it slides and glides into any gear two through five. Having the CD changer in the trunk and no player in the cabin seems archaic. And even the seats in spite of their lumbar support, could use more adjustment capability. But that would be the brain speaking. The heart has other thoughts. Try 390 horsepower. What does this mean for other auto manufacturers? Bad news. A new BMW M3 owner took his lumps graciously as he found firsthand that the XKR is more than just a dolled-up XK8. The Jag feels almost indomitable in the performance department. The story doesn't end with a supercharged V-8, but rather starts there. The 4.2-liter engine is a rush, and the silky smooth, six-speed ZF automatic transmission is Nirvana. Fast and effective is just what a tranny is supposed to be. This one definitely delivers the goods.

The suspension also deserves mention, as it is plenty able to deal with the power – even with a driver who pushes the cat hard. Those responsible managed to hit the mark both in performance and maintaining a supple ride. Perfect for a night on the town, yet all business when the going gets tough. The Brembo brakes, which are very effective, also had a penchant for squealing beyond belief at low speeds. This was truly an embarrassment at times. The interior is a snug leather clad environment that is pleasing to the eyes, the touch, and the hinny! The walnut wood trim is a direct link back to days gone by. On the other hand, the door panel material abutting the side glass could stand an upgrade. The rest, from the carpet to the headliner of the convertible roof, is top notch in all respects. The top is fully automated, lined, and has a rear glass window with defroster. The top operates much like the car itself - fast and effortlessly.

As the weather has been a mixed bag as of late, both the top and the rain-sensing windshield wipers got a good workout. Coming from a land that actually has weather, maybe it should come as no shock that whatever moisture we saw managed to stay out of the passenger compartment. Furthermore, with roof up the inside, it is a tranquil, cocoon-like environment in which to escape from the world outside. And, of course, the brain needs to mention the ease of which the navigation system operates. Also, when the navigation system is off, the screen morphs into an analog-looking clock face. This actually does function rather well, as it is faster to glance at the clock and sense if you happen to be running late. Running late could only be a function of traffic, which the city of Angels has been known to have now and then. The only other practical explanation for a delay would be due to taking the long route to a destination. To pin it on the Jag’s lack of capability would be a vain attempt to misplace the blame.

Now, this isn't the least expensive vehicle out there, but it’s less than the similarly profiled Aston Martin. But, price isn’t the paramount concern in my consideration, however it is worth mentioning. On a sun-drenched day, the Jaguar XKR can very well be my favorite ride. That, indeed, comes straight from the heart.

More information on this can be found at www.jaguarusa.com SPECIFICATIONS Price: $ 86,330, $ 88,795.00 as tested Engine type: 4.2 liter DOHC 32 valve V8 rotor-type Eaton supercharger w/intercooled Horsepower: 390 hp @ 6,100 rpm Torque: 399 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/rear-wheel drive Transmission type: ZF’s 6HP26 six-speed automatic with “Mechatronic” adaptive shift strategy. Front suspension: Independent double unequal length wishbones, coil springs, and telescopic dampers, Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Rear suspension: Coil springs, and Independent telescopic dampers. unequal length wishbone, with driveshafts acting as upper links, CATS, DSC, Wheels and tires: Front: 18” X 8” 245/45ZR 18 Rear: 18” X 9” 255/45ZR18 Brakes: Front: 355x32mm Brembo ventilated front discs with four-piston aluminum calipers Rear: 330x28mm Brembo ventilated rear discs, with four-piston aluminum calipers Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) Overall length: 187.4” Overall width: 79.3” Overall height: 50.7” Curb weight (lbs.): 4,039 EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 16/23 mpg 0-60 mph: 5.3

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