1.14.2009

Jaguar XKR Convertible Review




I remember the thrill I felt as a tiny TireKicker when I saw the Jaguar XKE Convertible back in 1961. There was no question: I was in the presence of something special.

Even with the passage of 48 years (!), it's tough to top that design. The requirements of modern motoring make it virtually impossible to build anything that sleek and lithe (where would the computers fit?). Jaguar's attempts to evoke the old E-Type have largely fallen far short of the mark...until the current XK and XKR.

Again, practicalities keep the new car bigger in every dimension than the original E-Type, but there is a sense of something special...and a close-cousin resemblance to the current Aston Martins that's not a bad thing, either.

No question, it's a dream to drive...the XKR packing 420 horsepower mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and a computer active tech suspension with speed sensitive steering.



Downers? The Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system was just barely adequate for top-down listening at speed, and the control screen housing the audio, navigation, Bluetooth and climate settings was prone to freeze up. The only way out was to turn off the engine and re-start the car...sometimes more than once. By the end of the test, I was simply calling it "re-booting".

So, it's a mixed bag. High marks for looks and performance (with decent mileage...EPA estimates are 15 city/23 highway)...but a big question mark (as in "is it just the one I drove or is this a bigger problem?")over the reliability of the control screen. $93,400 (base price...$104,425 as tested) should buy you perfection...or at least peace of mind.

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