Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sexy Beast

This was written several weeks ago, before the print embargo for the new XKR:

I just got down from the hills with the new 510-hp Jaguar XKR. The acceleration on this car was absolutely brutal. Great sounds, as well. I wisely chose to turn off the stereo at the start of my jaunt, and didn't miss it one bit.

It's a very comfortable car, with the full complement of features you'd expect from Jaguar. My butt was nice and cool throughout the ride thanks to its seat ventilation, though Jag still has some work to do on its touch-screen control interface, since I actually wanted to turn the climate control off, but gave up before figuring out how.

Okay, the car is comfortable for the front-seat occupants, but the rear seat, well let's just say Jaguar failed to account for the lower extremities of the human body. Even with myself at the helm, a diminutive 5'7", I noticed that there's just about enough room behind the driver's seat for a thick folder, filled with important papers. Don't worry, they won't fly away. They'll be pinched tightly between the driver's seatback and the rear passenger bottom cushion. This is actually how I secured my fairly thin laptop bag during the drive, though I actually needed the extra room that was behind the front passenger seat, since no one was riding shotgun.

On the road, the Jag has impeccable manners, though the steering could stand to be a little more involving and a little less isolating. But as a 29-year-old guy, and not the middle-aged man to which this car is targeted, I'm sure Jag is less worried about pleasing me. Thankfully, though, middle-aged men still love horsepower. Stepping on the gas, the acceleration was astonishing. I've actually driven one or two 5-cent cars, like the BMW M6. But I guess the extra 10 hp puts this cat over the top.

Up in the hills, the twists and turns were fun, but the most entertaining part was the straights. Hey, I'll take my g loads from whichever direction they come. Plus, the stability control was a little too intrusive, robbing me of some power coming out of the sharpies. I really must get in a better habit of looking for buttons with checkered flags. I usually don't turn off stability control, since a windy mountain pass is not the best place to find out that a car was not quite as predictable as you thought. So I didn't notice the race mode (I guess?) button until I'd come down. I'm guessing this little beauty would've helped in the hills, but I can't say for sure.

My biggest impression of the XKR was its raw power. It's a highly comfy tourer, but when the goin' gets fast, this cat get's goin'.

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