Dan Neil - All-New Jaguar XK

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, May 25, 2006.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    There's somethin' fishy going on - But odd snout aside, Jaguar's XK has a sultry, sinewy style. Sports car fans: Prepare to be hooked.

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    One curvaceous cat

    DAN NEIL
    May 24, 2006

    THE crossroads of government regulation and car design has seen some nasty pileups. Please avert your eyes from the 1981 Fiat X 1/9, in the early days of 5-mph bumper regulations, which forced Bertone to bracket the edgy little car with moronic rubber parentheses. The current Pontiac Solstice is a lovely roadster unless and until you attach a front license plate — required by California law — on its bullet-smooth nose, after which the car looks like it has buckteeth and is pronounced "Pontiac Thol-sthith."

    No company has suffered more than Jaguar. In 1968, the U.S. Department of Transportation banned the use of glass-covered headlamps, which ruined the gorgeous glassine stare of the old E-type. By 1974, the Series III E-Type front end had been comically fitted with blocky, black-rubber Dagmars. For most of the next two decades, the company's otherwise handsome cars (XJS, XJ6) were sandwiched between oversized chrome-and-rubber bumpers that looked like sterling-and-bakelite handles on a tea service.

    Which brings us, in a mood something like deep remorse, to the new, second-generation Jaguar XK, an absolutely stunning and stirring sports coupe/convertible design, an ensorceling work of animal appetite and biomechanical grace except, alas, for the first few inches — which look like hell. In order to comply with new European pedestrian-safety standards, Jaguar chief of styling Ian Callum was obliged to extend the nose of the car around the oval grille opening as well as lengthen the chin spoiler, so that the impact forces against a pedestrian's legs are better distributed.

    The result is all too familiar in a town where women are constantly running to their plastic surgeons for injections of collagen: tragic trout lips. The new Jaguar is the Meg Ryan of luxury GTs.

    Here would be the place for an obligatory rant against the nanny state — or, in the case of the U.K., the Mary Poppins state — but the truth is, most car companies have little trouble coping with incrementally imposed safety regs. It is the peculiar curse of Jaguar, with its ethos of sleek, ellipsoidal design and preoccupation with heritage, that it should so often run afoul of such rules.

    Still, I'm not willing to let Callum off the hook entirely. After all, this is the man who designed the Aston Martin DB9. There must have been a more elegant design solution than this, this gaping cakehole. It looks like a cross between a Ford Taurus and a blow-up novelty doll.

    So what we have is, in fact, a nearly/not-quite perfect design, 99.44% pure; still, I reckon that's quite enough to trump the XK's most obvious rivals, the Maserati Coupe/Spyder and the BMW 6-series. The Jag is a powerful and masculine form, with tensed and back-loaded energy like an arm cocked to throw a punch. You might read other reviewers saying the sheet metal is pulled tight over the mechanicals. That's wrong. The XK doesn't have anything like the anorexic, see-the-ribs look of the DB9. This car has full, rounded volumes with only gentle creases along the rear haunches and along the beltline. It is, in other words, tumescent. If your XK lasts more than four hours, see your doctor.

    This is only the second rendition of the XK (the "8" has been dropped from the nomenclature) since 1997. Although it is roughly the same length as the previous car, it is considerably wider over a wheelbase stretched more than a half-foot. These dimensions make the XK a more close-coupled car (with shorter front and rear overhangs) and set it deeper in its stance, brawny in a way the torpedo-like XK8 wasn't. The car has some prodigious wheel wells that, alas, will undoubtedly host big, ugly aftermarket wheels. Up to 20-inch alloy rims are factory options.

    Callum and the structural engineers emphasized the convertible design first with the hardtop designed afterward. But I must say, having driven both cars, the coupe is the more handsome design, and more livable — the wind noise on our convertible test car, top-up, gathered to a bothersome moan at "Vanishing Point" speeds.

    On the other hand, because Jag went with a fabric top and not a bulky retractable hardtop, most of the 10 cubic feet of trunk space is preserved when the top is down (7.1 cubic feet). As for the coupe, I particularly like the way the rear backlight suggests the rear window on the classic XK-E. Pity the hatch isn't hinged on the side.

    P.S.: The coupe version of the classic E-type was always the prettier car, while the convertible appealed to oral surgeons and golf pros.


    [​IMG]
    Jaguar Through the Years

    LIKE the current generation XJ sedan, the XK is an all-aluminum monocoque structure assembled from cast joints, extrusions and riveted panels in Castle Bromwich, the old Spitfire factory near Birmingham, England. This cash-intensive method of construction makes the car appreciably lighter (200 pounds in convertible form and nearly 400 pounds in coupe form) and vastly stiffer than the old steel-bodied XK8, which had tuning fork-like tremble when it hit big potholes or railroad tracks.

    And, just as in the XJ, this aerospace-based technology is transforming. The previous XK was only willing to change direction. This car wants to. Light and handy and predictable, the XK — set up on its multiprocessor-powered adaptive suspension — now feels like a thoroughly modern GT, capable of big, carving corners and tail-waggling hairpin exits (until, of course, the stability control starts to selectively chatter the brakes). Body roll is negligible on all but the most flagrant maneuvers.

    But this isn't a toss-and-catch sports car — it's too big and wide for that. This is a long-distance, low-altitude cruiser, with a light-oil lubricated, effortlessly centered feeling in the steering and a progressive, long-stroke touch in the brakes. Meanwhile, the adaptive suspension's ride quality is terrific — stiff and tightly buttoned-down when the car is being driven hard (the computer knows), and Muzak-relaxed on interstate stretches. The chassis dynamics engineers have delivered a nearly perfect balance between grace and pace.

    Beneath the long prow is Jaguar's satin-smooth 4.2-liter, 300-hp V8, the same as in the XJ. But it certainly doesn't sound the same. Jag's powertrain engineers went to some lengths to imbue the XK's exhaust note with a feline purr, which rises to a fervent, full-throated snarl as the engine builds rpm. It's actually a little strange to have this perfectly balanced, super-clean powertrain (ULEV-II in California) cackle and snap like a Carolina moonshine runner.

    To be sure, the best part of the powertrain is the six-speed ZF transmission with sequential paddle shifts. Left in "drive," this tranny's programming heavily emphasizes fuel economy, leaping to the tallest gear as soon as the driver lightens throttle pressure. This can make the car feel downright lazy unless you stomp the gas pedal. Slap the gearshift to the left-side gate, however, and suddenly the car wakes up, with the rpm held right in the meat of the torque curve.

    Or you can use the paddle-shifters behind the steering wheel, which raises the car's game (and redline) yet again. This is the quickest, smoothest manual-shifting automatic I've seen, rapping off double downshifts in a blink. In this market, 300 hp isn't a lot of power, but this gearbox makes the most of it. Zero to 60 mph for the coupe is 5.9 seconds, says Jaguar, and 6.0 seconds for the convertible.

    By this time next year, we'll have the more intense XKR version of the car, with bigger brakes, flintier suspension tuning, more reactive steering and 400 or so supercharged horses. Should be fun.

    THERE is much to commend here. The Jag's redesigned interior is properly upscale, with French-stitched leather upholstery everywhere and excellent trims of poplar, walnut or brushed alloy. Jaguar's engineers have also come up with a unique nav/computer interface that might be the best on the market. According to the electronics guys, no adjustment is more than three steps away from the home screen.

    In most respects, the Jag and the 6-series are close competitors; however, the Jag's ease-of-use is light-years beyond the 6-series, saddled as it is with the confounding iDrive.

    There are some minor faults with the car. The standard 160-watt stereo is pretty wimpy. Visibility is an issue (without the parking assist sensors you would probably wind up remodeling the car's nose on your own). The things we put up with to look cool, eh? Otherwise, this is a terrific car.

    These are not the best of times for Jaguar. The company is a perennial money-loser for its parent, Ford Motor Co., and it recently surrendered its spiritual home, the Brown's Lane factory in Coventry. But the Jag XK shows no sign of cost-cutting compromise.

    Actually, under the circumstances, the car seems heroic. Jag invested the millions it took to build an aluminum-bodied car, and from the exhaust note to its nav system gave the XK its own, distinctively British wit and invention.


    It's just too bad about the mouth, though. Maybe the swelling will go down?

    [​IMG]
    Pucker power

    Final thoughts: Only the snout's in doubt

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The more I see this car, the more I like it.
     
  3. Short Bus

    Short Bus Beep beep!

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    I've never been much of a Jag fan. :hs:
     
  4. CHEVELLE_GIRL

    CHEVELLE_GIRL *damn man* RIP OT OGs

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    i just wanted to stop in and say hi :wavey:
     
  5. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    :wavey:
     
  6. Noparking

    Noparking Platinum Member OT Supporter

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    already drove one, kinda fun
     
  7. hondaluva

    hondaluva likes free hugs...

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    I was inside a new XK and let me let tell you it feels and looks MUCH nicer than the previous XK.

    This car will sell well. nicer interior + same reliable V8 = the win.

    In any case, i highly agree with the review. the front end is much to be desired, and its pretty good for the cruiser that it is.

    Its just weird that the weakest link of the car should be the strongest, seeing how you have Ian Callum on the design of the project.
     
  8. hondaluva

    hondaluva likes free hugs...

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    unfortunately this thread won't break page three because its not german, and OT as a whole dosen't like Jaguar. :hs:
     
  9. Quagmire

    Quagmire New Member

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    That reliable V8 that we've had wash the oil out of the cylinders numerous times? Gotcha. :mamoru:
     
  10. hondaluva

    hondaluva likes free hugs...

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    I'll put it like this

    It's no Toyota, but its 9824329873298472109874 times more reliable than the Inline-6 and the V12 that were in previous Jaguars.
     
  11. Oman4x4

    Oman4x4 OT Supporter

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    I fucking love that car... has a perfect blend of elegance and agility... I do think the XK-R will have a slightly nicer looking front end... the old XKR had a slightly more aggressive look.

    It's a shame that people associate the front end with the Taurus though... Jaguars have been using the oval opening in their sports cars for a very long time. The Taurus lifted it from Jaguar.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  12. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Now I see the relation. :cool:
     
  13. m3 bavaria

    m3 bavaria Come again?

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    It's brilliant and the XKR will own TriShield's mother.
     
  14. Quagmire

    Quagmire New Member

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    That isn't saying much, but I'll agree with you there. :hs:

    As for Taurus remarks, I think the headlights resemble the Taurus instead of the oval grille.
     
  15. Oman4x4

    Oman4x4 OT Supporter

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    I wish most of the auto magazines were sharp enough to make the connection and set people straight. The Jaguar E-type is renound for being one of the most beautiful cars ever. The new XK has a lot of E-type cues.

    Also - how can people say it looks "too much like an Aston Martin" like that's a BAD thing? That's like saying "My girlfriend is nice and all, but she's just too hot".

    As for the Taurus thing - the designer Callum admits there's a Taurus similarity. However, people should be saying the Taurus has a Jaguar nose, not the other way round.

    http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/coupe/112_0510_2007_jaguar_xk/

     
  16. hondaluva

    hondaluva likes free hugs...

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    outside of Lexus, i think all of the european makes have slightly less reliable engines in their luxury cars...
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2006
  17. hondaluva

    hondaluva likes free hugs...

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    EXCELLENT POST! I even found some info on there that I didn't even know about. :coold:

    Callum is no Bangle. He knows how to design a car with taste... and the Aston Martin DB7 and DB9 (Fisker completed it tho) will go down as two of the best designs in history.
     
  18. Oman4x4

    Oman4x4 OT Supporter

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    Fisker cars aren't Astons though - but the similarity is there. Fisker take the Merc SL55 and make it look even better than it already does, and then take the BMW 6 series and FIX it. :big grin:

    It'd be interesting to hear what Callum thinks of Bangle. Bangle wishes he could design cars like Ian Callum.
     
  19. V_Eight

    V_Eight inside fish sticks, outside tartar sauce

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    Wow it's gorgeous.
     
  20. erobbins

    erobbins Active Member

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    jaguars are awesome cars :o
     
  21. Oman4x4

    Oman4x4 OT Supporter

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    http://www.thecarconnection.com/Auto_News/Profiles_QA/Ten_Questions_Ian_Callum_and_the_XK.S193.A9955.html

    [​IMG]


    Cliffs: The Taurus looks like a Jaguar (notice what I did there) because the designer of the Taurus is Ian Callums brother, and he owns a Jaguar E-type.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2006
  22. KGB ate my bread

    KGB ate my bread Made you look. OT Supporter

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    My uncle has an old E-Type like that. Fucker is in bad shape, but still cool to see (wood steering wheel).

    Definitely liking the new XK styling. My uncle has a 2002? or so and it's not bad looking. Definitely been improved upon in the right areas.
     
  23. Tony Stark

    Tony Stark John McCain has an illegitimate mexican baby

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    the car reminds me of aston martin
     
  24. Noah

    Noah The things we know best are the things we haven't OT Supporter

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    This XK Coupe > This XK Convertible

    I haven't driven one yet...the dealership is having problems keeping them around long enough for me to get up and drive one!
     
  25. Oman4x4

    Oman4x4 OT Supporter

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    That's not a bad thing
     

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