During our time together in the nation's capital, the new Jaguar (NYSE:F) XKR coupe and I took a trip down Constitution Avenue, sailing past D.C.'s majestic memorials to Washington and Lincoln and the veterans of multiple wars--monuments that should take any citizen's breath away. But nothing on the other side of the windshield could compete with the kick of revving this English car's 420-horsepower engine, which can take it from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds.
In addition to the normal six-speed automatic shifter, the XKR has two other driving modes, the most dynamic of which is controlled by fluid paddle shifters for zigging and zagging through hairy situations like a seasoned politician on the stump. For independent-minded mavericks, the stability control, which adds traction, prevents wheel spinning, and limits over- and understeering, can be reined in or turned off to give the XKR a little more play.
As I manned the XKR's leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel, it wasn't long before I felt trapped in the Beltway like so many faceless bureaucrats. But typical traffic patterns held off any attempt to race the Amtrak Acela up the D.C. to New York City corridor. It's a shame because I'm betting the XKR's electronically limited top speed of 155 miles per hour is a conservative estimate that merits a liberal examination.
2007 Jaguar XKR
$86,500 base price; $90,575 as tested. The convertible starts at $92,500
420-hp 4.2-liter V8 engine; 413 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm; 17/25 mpg
The interior's polished burl walnut inlay is saucy, and the quad tailpipes and side vents make the XKR roar. Also noteworthy are the rain-sensing windshield wipers, the adaptive cruise control, and headlamps that swivel as you turn for better visibility.
The XKR's glamour is slightly sullied by the cheesy "supercharged" stamp on the hood louvers. And the pouncing jaguar hood ornament is missed.
"The XKR is evidence that Jaguar is making serious sports cars, not warmed-over Ford Mondeos," says Gary S. Vasilash, editor in chief of Automotive Design & Production. "It's a car you'll want the valet to park out front--not only for its looks but also because you know what he wants to do with it."