NEW CAT ON THE BLOCK
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Thu, Dec 7, 2006
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
NEW CAT ON THE BLOCK
By JOHN GRAFMAN
Ford has some serious problems on their hands. The most recent quarterly report shows a loss of billions of dollars. Even by their own estimate, they won't be returning to profitability until 2009. By another estimate, the company will burn through some 17 billion dollars in that time. This dismal scenario has led to the suggestion of sending Jaguar, Aston Martin, or some other holdings to the auction block.
A quick glance at Jaguar and two questions quickly become apparent. While Ford has owned Jaguar for quite some time, they still have yet to figure out how to turn this into a profit center. The most obvious question is 'why keep the brand?' Secondly, who'll be interested in purchasing a company rich in history, but weak in profits?
Both questions are easily answered. The new 2007 XK convertible is the turnaround car for Jaguar that might be the key to its survival in this rough and tumble world. 'Who wouldn't' is the overly simplified answer to the second. Any company that isn't interested either doesn't have the cash, or the foresight.
Is the XK really that amazing? Damn near! The latest variation on the XK theme is certainly influenced heavily by the Aston Martin lineup. Peel away the labels and one can easily confuse the two. The convertible flows from tip to tail. The body has a very refined muscular appearance, guaranteed to earn the label of the exotic. Jaguar just might be able to cash in on that big fat market that brands like Mercedes-Benz and Audi have been feeding from. Finally, Jaguar now has a product that will get them into the game.
The prior generation was a big step forward for Jaguar at the time. Unfortunately, some armchair quarterbacks took pot shots declaring the vehicle carried too much Ford in the influence of its composition. The interior of the new XK is a huge step forward, at least in this particular car. Our test vehicle is actually equipped with the convertible luxury aluminum package. This option adds an additional level of refinement over above the stock XK. Included in this package are the aluminum veneered trim, soft grain leather interior, exquisite leather instrument panel, 16-way power seats with adjustable bolsters, and 20-inch Senta style wheels. This one option package is $8,125, which is more than one-tenth the cost of the vehicle and worth every penny. Expensive yes, and it's gorgeous beyond compare. Looking around the interior, attempting to find any trace of a Ford is nigh on impossible.
Prior to starting the engine, I'm overwhelmed with both the beauty and execution of the Interior. Even the simplest of parts like the armrest glides with a certain purposefulness that's both reassuring and a reminder as to the meaning of what a Jaguar is. The touch screen command center is easy to become acquainted with. And I have to admit: The audible recognition of each touch is represented by a familiar tone very reminiscent of the archaic pong arcade games. Why should this particular tone be so pleasing I have no idea, but it is. As much as I enjoy it, I still prefer their roar of the mighty 4.2-liter overhead cam V-8 engine sitting beneath the hood.
While 300 horsepower is getting more commonplace in performance and luxury cars, it's what's done with the horses that matters most. And Jaguar has managed to find some rather energetic ponies to pull this vehicle off the line in a very determined fashion. The performance is purposeful and controlled. The level of refinement is beyond reproach. This is a take-no-prisoners marketplace, and the engineers who developed this car know that very well. The 2007 XK is a player, no excuses made, and none required!
Standard fare on this is speed-sensitive steering, variable cam phasing, computer active tech suspension, along with a 6-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel disc brakes - all working in concert harmoniously with one another. This Jaguar is a total package, feeling very cohesive in creating true character. While the new advertising is eye-catching, this automobile can stand on its own two feet. Finally, Jaguar created a suitable balance between sports and luxury. Day-after-day, I find myself more and more at home behind the wheel, and for very good reason. This Jaguar was developed for real-world conditions such as sprints to the supermarket, and dreadful bumper-to-bumper traffic on the freeways. This again is my view from behind the steering wheel. Now the view from the back seat can be entirely different. While no expense was spared on the trim, the allocated room is more than just a little lacking. However, it's perfectly suitable for additional cargo and small children.
What makes this car extra special is the convertible top. Us poor Californians in the lower half of the state have to tough it out with 90-degree temperature in November, and eighty-something in December. While this might mean no snowmen on the lawn, it does allow for top-down fun all year round. The top may not have to come up very often in these parts. When it does, it actuates smoothly and gracefully. The top automatically resides disgracefully under a hard tonnue cover. Hardtop convertibles might be all the rage right now, but Jaguar still made the right choice. The soft-top weights less, and eats up very little of the trunk space. Unlike several other convertibles I can mention, the Jaguar makes a perfect driving companion for weekend getaways - be it to the desert or up the coast. After all, what's the sense of having a perfect road car without enough room to store take-a-longs?
The new XK certainly will rattle the cages of many competitors, as well it should. This is also warning to the public at large that it's not business as usual at Jaguar. If any of the forthcoming models are at all similar to this car, we greatly look forward to their arrival.
So, will Ford sell this brand? If so, it should fetch a pretty penny. As demonstrated by the new XK convertible, Jaguar is looking better than ever. And these days with so much wild talk and speculation, the boys at the blue oval need only say one thing: Show me the money!
Jaguar hits the nail on the head with the new XK.
For more information please go to www.jaguar.com
Price: Base $80,835.00, as tested $94,000.00
Engine type: 4.2-liter DOHC, 32 valve, aluminum alloy block/head, 90 degree V8
Horsepower: 300 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 310 lb.-ft @ 4,100 rpm
Drive configuration: Front engine / all-wheel drive
Transmission type: ZF (6HP-26) six-speed, Jaguar Sequential Shift
Suspension: Front: Sport-tuned with enhanced Computer Active Technology Suspension (eCATS). Fully independent twin wishbones. Coil springs with telescopic dampers. Anti-dive geometry providing longitudinal stability under heavy braking. Anti-roll bar. Rear: Sport-tuned with enhanced Computer Active Technology Suspension (eCATS). Fully independent with lower wishbones and driveshafts acting as upper links. Coil springs with telescopic dampers. Anti-roll bar. Dynamic Stability Control with Trac DSC Traction Control System.
Wheels and tires: Front: 18 x 8.5-in. or 18 x 9.5-in. cast alloy, Venus style, Continental Sport Contact 245/45 ZR18 Rear: 18 x 8.5-in. or 18 x 9.5-in. cast alloy, Venus style, Continental Sport Contact 245/45 ZR18
Brakes: Front: V ented discs 12.8" diameter X 1.02" aluminum single piston, sliding calipers Rear: V ented discs 12.8" diameter X .79" aluminum single piston, sliding calipers
Teves Mk25 electronically controlled 4-channel Anti-lock Brake System with yaw control, passive brake booster, independent front/rear split hydraulic circuits incorporating fluid loss warning sensor, electronic parking brake
Overall length: 188.6"Overall width: 81.5"Overall height: 52.3"Curb weight (lbs.): 3,759
EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 18/27
0-60 mph: 6.0
Top Speed, mph: 155