The vermiform appendix is a vestigial blind ended tube attached to the end of the caecum. There are theories that it serves as a safe house for the intestine’s native bacteria during infection. Basically, when you get diarrhea, the intestine flushes itself out, and then repopulates from the safe house. This theory might be rubbish, however, as people who have had an appendectomy seem to have no adverse side effects. The body just doesn’t use its easily infected little pouch of intestine. Basically, the only thing it does at this point is make the human body a little worse. If you don’t have it it’s no big deal, and if you do it might explode for little to no reason. If you want to know what this has to do with a $92,300 sports car, hit the jump.Keep that in mind, you’ll be tested I’ll mention it later.
My first impression of that car was that it is rather pretty. The paint was well done, and the body styling was aggressive without being tacky. The front end looked nice, but the rear is where the design really shines. The bulges over the rear tires makes the vehicle look like a big cat that’s about to pounce (for instance, a Jaguar). The wheels were attractive without being gaudy, finished as they were. Not too shiny, but not dull by any stretch of the imagination. All in all, this is a very pretty car, and classy too. It will turn heads, but it won’t stop traffic or cause people to suddenly turn into slack-jawed idiots the way a Gallardo does.
Then I was handed they “key” which was actually just a fob that let the car know when master was near. While keyless entry is essentially useless, it sure makes you feel cool. Action heroes never need to unlock doors for some reason, and with this little feature I felt a little more like James Bond. I sat down and began to adjust the seat. The number of ways one can adjust the seat is staggering. While most of the options I saw coming (front/back, seat bottom length, back rest angle, etc.) the gentleman showing me the car then pointed out that the side bolsters has little inflatable bags in them, and with a little knob on the control panel I could make the seat fit of the seat to my back as tight or as loose as I wanted. That’s a nice touch. Once I had everything adjusted, I felt securely planted in my seat, but not uncomfortable.
Now that I had my personal space how I wanted, I took a look around the rest of the interior. It was classic Jag updated for 2009. I was surrounded by leather and wood, just like the interiors of Jaguars past, but this had a large, colourful touchscreen mounted in the console. This had five tabs to be played around with, Audio, Climate, Phone, Navigation, and Vehicle, and within these tabs everything looked fairly self-explanatory. For instance, “Volume” controlled the volume. Once I had played around with it a little, using it became second nature, and the manual would never need to be consulted at 120 kph. The screen was set in poplar in the model tested, which, in my opinion did not look all that hot next to the black leather, but was gorgeous wood nontheless. One good thing about the poplar was that it made one little finish detail more apparent. When Jaguar prepares the wood, they get a plank, split it so that it is half as thick, and then use their two thinner planks to make the opposite halves of the console. The seam between the two pieces is immaculate, and only noticeable when one is really looking for it, but that’s not the astounding thing. Jaguar has gone through all that effort so the markings on the wood would be symmetrical. Obsessive-compulsives (virtually all of my friends) will absolutely love this car, as well as people who appreciate an obsessive-compulsive’s design choices (me). An added bonus is that one can order the steering wheel in a matching wood trim. It’s a textural adventure.
The stock sound on these cars is nice, but the Bowers and Wilkins audio system is absolutely phenomenal. If you ever even remotely enjoy sounds, these speakers are worth it.
Then I turned around, and this brings me back to the most useless sack of flesh in the body. There is a back seat… somewhat. The back seat is perhaps large enough to keep a hamster in for short drives, but I wouldn’t go on a road trip with Fuzzy unless you could put him in the front. One of the sales people informed me that the back seat was there for “insurance purposes.” I have wracked my brain for an instance in which one might actually put a person back there, and all I have come up with is the following; If you have just accidentally killed a particularly diminutive hooker, you have 30 minutes to spare, and above average upper body strength, you might be able to cram her in there for a brief drive to the land fill. Yes, it’s that useless; it’s completely vestigial. It’s like the vermiform appendix. It serves little to no purpose, and actually causes a little bit of harm. In my opinion, they should have scrapped the back seats entirely. The car would have been smaller and lighter without losing any power, and thus, faster. The kind of person who spends $92,300 or more on a sports car can probably afford to fork over a little more in insurance every year.
The interior is nothing if the car doesn’t drive though, so I pulled the lever down into drive and left the parking lot. I drove a model with the normally aspirated 4.2l v8 pumping out 300 hp. Also available is the XK-R, which is a supercharged version of the same engine that develops 420 hp. The standard XK manages to make its way from a stand-still to 100 kph in 6.2 seconds for the coupe and 6.3 for the ‘vert and both are limited to 250 kph. All this power is channeled through a six-speed semi-automatic gearbox that shifts smoothly, but is a little lethargic in its response time of 600 milliseconds. The paddles are mounted on the steering wheel rather than the steering column, which is fine most of the time, but downshifting into a sharp left turn would require the driver to either appear to fondle himself or to attack the steering wheel with his knee. In addition, the tactile response of the paddles isn’t quite as nice as say a Benz’s, but that’s only a minor gripe. All of this works quite nicely together, and as a result the XK slid up to 110kph in a 60kph zone without me even noticing. This Jag really wants to go.
I didn’t notice how much I had accelerated because of the suspension, which is firm but the ride is still as smooth enough to function as a grand tourer if the driver wants it too. Even though it was rush hour for my test drive, and I didn’t have many opportunities to go around corners too quickly, I could tell the thing had huge reserves of grip waiting in the wings. If I wanted to really push it there was a sport mode, which functioned a little differently than most. While normally sport mode tightens the suspension of a vehicle, the Jaguar’s only tightened when the car was both in sport mode and turning. I didn’t have a chance to really try this out, but I would have liked to see how quickly it kicked in. If it works instantly, it sounds brilliant, but if it takes more than a couple milliseconds, the turn would sure feel awkward, although I’m sure the ultra-communicative steering would help the driver adjust to this appropriately.
All said, this is a very nice car, but I think it needs just a little more focus. If they wanted it to be a grand tourer, they should have made the back “seats” bigger, and made the suspension difference between drive and sport a little more pronounced, but if they wanted it to be a thoroughbred sports car, they should have taken out the rear “seats” entirely, and tuned the transmission to shift a tad faster. If what you are looking for it a sports car that is a little more practical and comfortable than most, the XK is a very good choice.
If you are going to buy it though, no matter how nice the idea of cruising along some windy road in a convertible Jaguar sounds, get the coupe. It looks about a thousand times better.
Price as Tested: $104,300
Summary: Great car that hasn’t quite decided what it wants to be.
Exterior Design: 8/10. Pretty, but not garish. The Convertible looks a little like a Chrysler Sebring in profile though.
Interior Design: 8/10. Elegant and functional (not counting the rear seats). Get a dark wood and trim the steering wheel in it to boot.
Engine: 7/10. Sounds nice and does a good job of getting the car going.
Transmission: 6/10. Semi-automatic is nice, but the shifts were a bit slow.
Audio/Video: 9/10. Touch screen is very well thought out, and the Bowers and Wilkins speakers are phenomenal.
Value: 8/10. If the idea of the car appeals to you, you will love it.
Overall (not an average): 7/10
Thanks to Jonathan Smith and Tom Wood Jaguar of Indianapolis.