Drives: Ten More Horses Make for One Cool Cat
I sure wasn't wastin' away on the way to Margaritaville. As I sped to Key West in a 2006 Jaguar XJR, the aquamarine ocean waters stretching out on either side of me, there was only one thing on my mind: Wow, this thing really is supercharged. Pushing triple digits on the Overseas Highway may seem incongruous with the island vibe of the Florida Keys, but I knew that once I reached the Conch Republic the need for speed would be lost in the ocean breeze. Plus, I wanted to test the supercharged V8 engine that Jaguar dropped into the crème of its XJ sedan family. It gets more air and fuel into the cylinders, adding 10 horses for an even 400 hp. Anyway, I kept a lost-weekend-in-the-sun feel in the commodious interior by playing heliocentric ditties on the 320-watt Alpine stereo. "Hot Fun in the Summertime," of course, as well as a wonderfully clichéd litany of Jimmy Buffett numbers.
Not that driving the XJR to paradise needs improving. In addition to the purring engine, it comes with a slew of self-adjusting technological goodies. Traffic slowing? A radar-based cruise control will apply the brakes. Glaring headlights in your mirrors? The rearview and side mirrors will dim automatically. Plus, wireless Bluetooth technology connects your cell phone to the audio system for making calls while keeping your hands at 10 and two.
The back streets of Key West provided frequent opportunities to test the car's handling features, which are aided by sensors that track whatever swims in the XJR's course. Drifting about in the XJR found me constantly braking and swerving to dodge the many roosters, mopeds, six-toed cats, and drunken tourists searching for lost shakers of salt.
2006 Jaguar XJR
$79,995 base price, $81,845 as tested
4.2-liter 400-hp V8 engine; 413 foot-pounds of torque; 16.4 cubic feet of trunk space; 17/24 mpg
A come-hither chrome mesh grille; two layers of laminated glass for the windshield and side windows that reduce noise and prevent smash-and-grab thefts; radio buttons that can be programmed to pick up local traffic conditions wherever you roam
The CD changer is in the trunk, there's an ill-conceived bulky cupholder between the front seats (it pops up and gets in the way), and there may be too many automatic functions. Do we really need an adjustable gas pedal?
"This cat is state of the art from bumper to bumper," says Edward Sanchez, senior Web producer of Primedia Truck Group. "The XJR is stylish and nimble, with elegant British flair."