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Put a gun to my head, hand over a winning lottery ticket and tell me to go out and bring back the best grand touring sports car money can buy, and I may just return with a Jaguar XK. Ask for the best large or midsize luxury saloon, however, and you will not get a car crowned by a leaping jungle cat. Read Dan Roth's review of the 2007 Jaguar XK Convertible, and you'll wonder just how the current XJ, S-Type and X-Type can be sold under the same brand as the XK Coupe and Convertible.

So what happens when you add an "R" to the XK? For one, the price jumps by $11,000 to $92,500. Aside from that, the high-performance version of Jaguar's sexy drop top kicks things up a notch from mild to medium strength. As good as the XK is, does the additional consonant make that big of a difference?

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Much of your extra $11,000 is spent under the hood of the XKR, but we'll get to that in a minute. Considering that the standard XK coupe and convertible are regarded as objects of automotive sex, we're curious as to why Jaguar felt it necessary to accessorize their highly regarded design with go-fast trinkets. The XKR gets a new front bumper and mesh grille design that, frankly, doesn't improve the standard car's gentle lines. Add to that a pair of aluminum hood vents emblazoned with the word "SUPERCHARGED" that spoils the surprise below. The most telling sign you've got an XKR on your hands is the air extractor vents behind the front wheels, which here are blinged a bit instead of body colored like on the standard cars. Of course, XKRs also wear new wheels, in our case a set of 19-inchers with five split-spokes per. Finally, all XKR models sport a pair of dual exhausts out back, another indicator your XK is into heavy breathing.

We're such fans of the standard XK's design that ordering up an XKR without the new front end would be a preferable option. We'd keep the new wheels, chromed side vents and extra set of exhaust tips, as we do believe in differentiating your power player from the rest of the lineup. That said, we could deliver countless bystanders and passerbys who disagree with us. You may remember that the XKR Convertible was with us at the 2007 Woodward Dream Cruise, and surprisingly (at least to us) the convertible from Coventry drew in more than its fair share of gawkers while parked on Motor City's most famous avenue. Despite our reservations, Jaguar must have done something right with striking a balance in the XKR's design of elegant grace and aggressive tendencies.

The interior of the XKR, meanwhile, has been tampered with little by Jaguar. Added are only aluminum "weave" inserts, which our tester didn't even have in favor of burled walnut inserts (a no-cost option), and sport seats with an incredible 16 ways of adjustment that are controlled by a gaudy panel near the door handle. As such, the XKR's chairs were extremely comfortable, and made our 3-hour jaunts between Cleveland and Detroit for the Dream Cruise a pleasure to endure. While the interior itself is identical to the domicile of a standard XK, that's fine as this represents the best instrument panel ever installed in a Jaguar. It earns high marks for the use of expensive materials that feel rich to the touch, as well as the ergonomic elegance of its center console. Front and center is a large 7-inch touchscreen that, aside from being above average in its ease of use, employs one of the prettiest graphical user interfaces (GUI) of any nav system on the market. Unlike many vehicles that offer a built-in touchscreen to control the nav system, audio and HVAC controls, Jag chose to keep redundancy to a minimum and not repeat every command with a button, knob and dial on the dash. It's risky to channel all of the driver's inputs through a single touchscreen, but Jag's GUI is straightforward enough so that your fingers won't be tripping over themselves trying to change stations or input a destination.

Being that the Jaguar XKR Convertible costs nearly $100,000, we appreciated not having to insert a key and twist to get it started. Keyless entry and start are standard in the XKR, so one needs only to approach the vehicle with the key fob on his person, get in and press the start button to hear the roarty engine come to life. Jaguar seemed content not to plunge a syringe full of steroids into the car's 4.2L AJ V8, instead adding a supercharger and raising horsepower by 120 to a more respectable 420. Being that the recently unveiled 2009 Jaguar XF sedan will use the same naturally aspirated and supercharged versions of Jaguar's 4.2L AJ V8, we think it's time this crowning convertible got some more oomph. It's not that the XKR Convertible's 420 horsepower left us wanting, it's just that on paper this engine doesn't stack up well against its German competition, particularly the BMW M6 Convertible that, while costing around $10,000 more, comes with a superlative 500-hp 5.0L V10. Despite the discrepancy in power, we'd still rather be seen sitting in the Jag, which is like a supermodel compared to the BMW's linebacker looks.

The Jaguar XKR Convertible's folding cloth top hardly spoils the car's profile. It does, however, gobble a good amount of trunk space whether up or down. There's still enough room back there for a couple of soft bags, and we found the trade off more than worthwhile on sunny days when we dropped the top and basked in the aural delight of the cat's subdued purr. While there are technically a pair of chairs behind the driver and front passenger, we never managed to bring a full four along for the ride. The rear seats have literally no leg room, so consider them an adjunct to the trunk.

We spent many miles on the highway with our XKR Convertible, which we thought would be uncomfortable because of the 'R' at the end of its name. Normally the "sporty" version of a model gets that name by firming up the ride, which may improve handling but almost always at the expense of a smooth ride. Despite its 19-inch wheels wearing low profile rubber, the XKR 'Vert rode like a luxury car over uneven pavement. Well, maybe not a luxury car, but the bumps we expected to shake our spine were muffled somewhere in the XKR's suspension. Do the dampers ruin the XKR Convertible's performance pretense? Well, let's just say that on a daily basis you'll use the car's forgiving ride more than its capacity to carve corners anyway.

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the newest Jag that was just revealed, the 2009 Jaguar XF, before ending this review. We were hoping after the production XF was unveiled that we could say the XK and its variants weren't the only fetching felines offered by Jaguar, but alas, we can't. The XF's exterior didn't fare so well on its way from concept to production model, so the XK remains the most attractive Jag available. And if you add an 'R' on the end, it just gets better.

All Photos Copyright © John Neff / Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Are you guys kidding me? Ever seen a XK on the road? They have more character in their door-handles than an entire 5 Series does. This car is gorgeous. I used to think of Jaguar as a Buick-brand. Since I've seen the XKs, I've changed my mind and if I can ever afford an expensive car, I'll pick this over any of the Germans cars. Easily.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Looks just like what it is, a rich "boring" mans mustang..
        • 7 Years Ago
        The short version: The previous generation looked better and more "jaguar" in character.

        The Long Version: Please substantiate your arguments if you're going to opine. Yes ,the subject has been covered ad nauseum in the comments..so here's my two euro cents. The design, while being from the mind of maccallum, is no Aston. For some reason, people have been willing to "settle" and resign themselves to accepting what is marketed to them. While the overall design is fluid in the line of the car, it incorporates a lot of cheap overdone elements such as the busy, ugly pseudo alztezza taillight design...and the compromised due to euro ped impact laws, front end. The Front light elements are not harmonious and that edge where the corner marker meets the blinker..what were they thinking..Just to follow the line? The aston's lights are a better execution and it's sad you have to pay almost twice the price just for the form. Moving to the interior..nothing groundbreaking here. While clean and pleasing, in layout, it's no Jacob Jensen. Stop doing cheesy burl walnut..is there an overabundance of this type of wood with heavy lacquer? Why not a matte finish as natural wood..or the beauty of the bamboo from the DB9? The gauges could be a lot better..the background/backlight straight off of the PAG parts bin..(i have them in my LR3) and the combination of electro luminiescent needles and an LCD screen? Lets get all the technologies involved available today, shall we? That digital lcd clock rendering in alarm style has got to go. Let's just use a sundial with birdseye perspective..
        Finally, re: the brits and design bling..if you ever watched an episode of top gear or 5th gear or numerous other moderated programs..you'd see that the brit taste in things associated with american culture is, well, juvenile. They have a penchant for all things gangsta if they can afford it.. (there's a joke about ricer style cars from essex) The presenters will bash american plastics while the same time putting the ubiquitous chrome plated plastics all over the outside of the car. There's a reason why British Leyland and all the other car companies have been relegated to boutique (barnhouse factories) or sold to the germans. The Brits haven't even had a good design since the C,D,E types and austin healey's ( you can't count tvr's of the 80's as those were schoolboy study hall sketch cars)

        To the person that bashed German design? Well, while flame surfacing may not be for everyone, i can guarantee you'll see the current Mercedes SL someday at a Concours vs. this conglomerate of all things committee approved. Even BMW's designs have aged well...have you noticed how clean and "pur" audi designs truly are? The Murcielago, the Rolls Phantom and Drophead..etc etc..I could go on and on but i'll spare you. Taste is a subjective thing, beauty is in the eye of the beholder..and if you look closely at this new xk's profile (rear to front, left to right) you'll see hints of a porsche cabrio profile set off by the way the rear bumper cover tapers down towards the ground following the line from the rear lights.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Cars are like women, some look good on paper and others in person, lucky ones both ways. I, too thought the new Jag suffered by comparison to the old XK, based on what I saw in pictures. However, I saw a new Jag in the parking lot yesterday and all I can say is WOW, it looks like a true exotic, lower and wider and better made than any "regular" car. It is truely something special and I am not a fanboy, just someone who loves a good lines. I am not so sure I would buy one but I certainly understand the motivations of those who do....its an emotional smackdown.
      • 7 Years Ago
      You guys are idiots. This car is actually beautiful in person. I would take the coupe version, though.
      • 7 Years Ago
      i think that Jaguar is a brand that people love to hate... it has some serious potential as a brand... but it cant seem to hit that home run... the XF was a great chance... but the front end missed the boat... (that front might have looked good on the next XJ) everything else is perfect...

      but the xk is the hotness... if i can have any car in the world it would be an xkr portfolio...

        • 4 Years Ago
        Jaguar XK is an awesome car. It now comes with a convertible tag. I live the car. Thanks for sharing the post.
      • 7 Years Ago
      TheManInDboX @ Aug 31st 2007 4:37PM
      Looks just like what it is, a rich "boring" mans mustang..

      BoyInDHole - You are probably right in saying that YOU should stay with a MUSH-dang. It probably suits your personality a bit better.

      For others, if you are comfortable in yourself, a Jaguar XJ or XK will probably fit you quite well.

      Other cars try to shout "I AM HERE" while Jaguar owners just arrive and "do their thing" without fanfare.

      Jaguar owners are the most civil and relaxed people that I have ever had the honor to associate with. In 10 years I have never known a Jaguar owner to bluster or act any other way than civil in dealings with other owners or shop personnel. I guess that's what separates Jaguar owners with other car owners..........

      Jaguar owners HAVE arrived while others just want to be noticed as having arrived.
      (Pity, eh?)

      Mercedes/BMW/Cadillac/Lexus drivers seem to shout "LOOK AT ME!" while Jaguar owners just give a patient smile, thinking "So what?"

      It's a simple difference of bravado-vs-inner confidence.

      It's all about confidence ............ Jaguar owners are comfortable in their purchase ................ Others buy brands just so someone will THINK that they are good! Jaguar owners don't NEED to bolster their ego! ~laughing~

      Like the old-timers say "Those who do, DO ........ those who don't ........... TALK!"
      • 7 Years Ago
      Why would anyone buy this car when they can get an SL550, that has a better interior and better ride.
      • 7 Years Ago
      so the Cavalier headlights, The older Ford Taurus grill and some Mazda 6 tailight combine to make what you refer to as 'objects of automotive sex'

      IMHO this is one ugly car.

      sometimes the automotive press needs some glasses to see what's in front of them besides the badge.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Ligor I couldn't agree with you more!! This is nothing but an overpriced two door Ford Taurus! It's hidiously boring to look at the seats even look straight out of a Taurus of yester year. Everything from the outdated cluster gauge that looks like something out of the 90's and is that FAUX wood in a Jag???.... Boring and ugly sorry no disrespect to the designers but if this is what you put to market to save a dying company....? Although i reluctanly admit to seeing a few already cruising LA
        • 7 Years Ago
        Oh and RickCA,

        First read my post above regarding the Taurus grille. Second, this is the seat out of a new XK:

        This is the seat out of a Taurus:

        They look nothing alike!

        How can you call the cluster gauge outdated? I wasn't aware that cluster gauges of "yesteryear" had LCD displays like the one on the Jag: http://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2007/08/ab_jagxkr_450_33.jpg

        And for your last point, IT'S REAL WOOD MORON! I think, and I may be mixing up my cars, but I think Jaguar actually selects each piece of wood in the whole car from the same tree, then sends them off to get polished and formed into the correct pieces. Each piece has a bar code on it to identify which car it goes back to, so every piece of wood in the car matches perfectly.

        I'm really tired of idiots like you who know nothing about cars acting like you do.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I am worried about your eyes. You see that add on the bottom LasikPlus vision center - no wonder they advertise on the Autoblog.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I totally agree, this car is ugly! They need an immediate redesign plan.

        Watch the sales numbers to see if we are wrong. The older XK8/XKR is much sexier.

        The new 4 door is gorgous, let's see if they can bring that to market in the form that we are seeing.
        • 7 Years Ago
        This is just a glorified Fort Taurus, nothing new.
        Nothing what one would expect from Jaguar !!!
        • 7 Years Ago
        What is wrong with you LigorLikes? This car at least looks like Jag. They had that grill years before before any Taurus.
        What are you going to see next, A Brazilian Monkey in this cat? Its a nice Jaguar - you don't like it, buy yourself a Bentley oh wait that looks like Huynday or buy Rolls, aaah that looks like Chrysler....perhaps buy Audi? no, looks like new VW..... better of walking??
        • 7 Years Ago
        You don't know your car history Ligor.

        The grille is actually modeled on the old Jaguar E-type. http://www.msmeet.com/Bildarkiv/Traffen04/original/etype4.JPG . The designers of the Ford Taurus actually copied the grille design. The only reason people as naive as yourself mistake the new XK grille for a Taurus, is because the Taurus was a much more mainstream car then the E-Type, hence people associate the design with the Taurus.

        You also must have never seen a Mazda 6, as those tail lights look nothing like the 6's.

        The car has amazing design, the same guy who designed the DB7 and Vanquish, Ian Callum, designed the XK. It has many of the same styling cues, for 10's of thousands less.
        • 7 Years Ago
        This model does not do it for me. My wife and I were at a restaurant, and a new one showed-up. The owner parked it all caddywhompus, backing it in, and standing by it. One person walked-up to him to talk about it, but the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, just a couple of cars away, received by far more onlookers.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Rick, your comments about the XK only show how little you know about cars. A taurus? Dude get your brain checked.

      Thats like saying a Lexus LS460 is just a gussied up camry with a v8.

      The XK is sexier than any other car in its class. And thats a fact.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Outstanding post... great that comments about features link to pictures about the comment.

      Jaguars are like Apple Products... you're either a "fanboy" or not. While I have been a jag owner for nearly 30 years even back in the "buy two so you have one as a spare" days. I agree with the comments that it has a vaguely old style Taurus "carp mouth".

      Look forward to more well integrated posts like this.
      • 7 Years Ago
      To say you don't really care for the XK is one thing (your opinion), but to say it's "ugly" and a copy of sub-par cars is just a little of exaggeration.

      Just saw a red XKR the other day, it was so beautiful.
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