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CAT SCRATCH FEVER

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, Jan 6, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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By John Grafman My friend sitting in the passenger side of the Jaguar XK Convertible wants me to answer a question that really isn’t as simple as it sounds. Looking at the passenger door panel he comments on the need to have three memory settings on the passenger side. I’m old school when it comes to passenger seat memory settings. It just seems unwarranted. Nevertheless, this allows a driver and a significant other to swap the car and tailor the seat position, and lock it in. I understand that. So, is the third for the mistress? One setting is a welcome feature, and two is more than enough for most, so why three? This goes back to the very nature of this car, and maybe the genre of cars the Jaguar fits into.

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Nowadays even lowly cars that cost 25K or less have some great features, and as the numbers approaches 60K most anything one would want can be included at that price point. So, once any car breaches that magic number it has to really offer something exclusive, something really desirable, or in the case of the additional memory settings, a feature you simply won’t need. This isn’t meant to make light of the sophistication the Jag offers, but merely to point out that at nearly $90,000 one would at least hope for something really neat like a hall pass to use the car pool lane, or a get out of jail free card. With the 385 horsepower, eight-cylinder under hood, and a health growl that begs to be driven fast, the get out of jail free card could be very welcomed indeed. A feature that’s much more useful is the center console display. The touch screen is a little difficult to use while in motion, as it is necessary to actually look and touch exactly what you want, but it does group all major functions in the smallish display. It also works with an iPhone simply enough, but it’s inherent complexity while operating the car takes some of the fun out of this. More frustration is the graphical layout, which is tricky to decipher while motoring. In a perfect world one could delete or at least dim down operations that aren’t required, and symbols should be used in place of words, so identification can be done in a blink.

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On the flip side the nav system has a very easy to use map, as the computer really does a great job of guessing what street you want and the city, thereby eliminating additional typing. The XK does actually feature plenty of welcomed gizmos that range from the Bluetooth technology, and smart key entry and start, to heated and cooled soft grain leather front seats. There are assorted other, less noticeable bits, like the adaptive headlamps that turn as the steering does, which simply make this an easy time behind the wheel. The easy to use one touch convertible top is almost perfect, and exactly what this Jag needs. It would be nice to have the control button on the center console as opposed to on the windshield header, which in use is always misinterpreted by other passing motorists as giving the other drivers the bird.

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With the top upright, the interior feels confining, and due to the short side glass height it’s hard to find a sweet spot in seating. Either the seats are too high, leading to close quarters with the top, or the seating is too low in relation to the side doorsill. But, this is California, and the top is stowed nine days out of ten, so we really don’t give too much weight to that in these parts of the woods. Top down driving is really what this car is for. The 2011 coupe is very swoopy, and clearly is a far cry from its 60’s brethren, however the convertible shares a low-slung appeal that’s hard to deny. The interior accommodations in this century lean more to luxury. But, the spirit of sport lies in the wind. The romance that is Jaguar is still a part of the XK. While the spirit is there, the styling in the interior is hard to differentiate as that of Jaguar. While there are cues, what we see here today is a modern car, and toggle switches are long gone. Alas, going forward means leaving something behind. However, don’t be too sad, this is still extremely pleasant. And for those that long for the past, well let me tell you, the sixties never had electric adjustable side seat bolster to keep you glued in place when the action gets going.

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The Jaguar XK does have a number of points that it falls short on, including excessive length, poor fuel economy, nominal truck space and a rear seat that seems small even by Mini Cooper standards. So, has the cat reached the end of its nine lives? Hardly. This is a smooth and powerful GT plus 2. At no time does one feel less than alive behind the wheel. The torque curve pushes one back into the seat as if to make a point. This isn’t rough around the edges, yet it doesn’t pussy foot about either. It has distinction. And the five-liter motor does rumble in a way that might say muscle car, but it does back up its tone with performance. It compels the driver to play with this kitty more often than one should. I’m not totally sure why this garners my love the way it does. Perhaps it’s a combination of elements, the leather, the push-me-harder drive quality, or the techno-gadgets. I can’t help but think it’s something else, maybe something that wafts in with the wind, call it spirit. It’s not really a tangible, however a few hours or days driving this and the feeling is undeniable. The whole is greater that the sum of its parts. This is what makes this something special. That, and of course an extra seat memory setting or two.

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SUMMARY JUDGMENT Handsome, refined, and even elegant, but the XK could use a few minor updates. Nevertheless, this is still a nine out of ten—and the perfect topless adventure to share with your significant other, or two. For more information about Jaguar products, click here

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SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: Jaguar XK Convertible Price: Base $89,000, as tested $89,875 Engine type: 5.0L V8 AJ133 Gen III, DOHC V8, aluminum-alloy cylinder block and heads, Chain driven DOHC, four valves per cylinder; dual independent variable cam timing EPA mileage estimates (city/highway): 16/22 miles per gallon Horsepower: 385 @ 6,500 rpm Torque: 380 lb.-ft @ 3,500 rpm Transmission type: 6-speed fully automatic with paddle shifters and sport settings Drive configuration: Front engine/rear-wheel drive Suspension: Front: 4-wheel independent with Adaptive Dynamics active damping, Double wishbone; coil springs, active dampers, stabilizer bar, aluminum components Rear: 4-wheel independent with Adaptive Dynamics active damping, Multi-link; coil springs, active dampers, stabilizer bar, aluminum components Wheels and tires: Front: Standard: 19 x 8.5-in., 245/40 ZR19 Rear: 19 x 9.5-in., 275/35 ZR19 Brakes: Front: 14.0-inch / 355 mm diameter Rear: 12.8-inch / 326 mm diameter Power-assisted 4-wheel ventilated disc; Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) and Emergency Brake Assist, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Understeer Control, Electronic Traction Control (ETC) and Engine Drag Torque Control, XKR adds Active Differential Control (ADC) Dimensions Overall length: 188.7 inches with plinth Overall width: 74.5 inches w/o mirrors Overall height: 52.3 inches Curb weight: 4,674 pounds 0-60 mph: 5.3 Top Speed, mph: 155

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