1.23.2010

Jaguar XK Convertible Review




And so it goes. Jaguar changes ownership again...this time moving to Tata of India.

So, can they build a proper Jag?

That's a question best answered over years of ownership, but my week in the 2010 XK Convertible suggests they won't miss a beat.

What's new? Well, power is up...now at a standard 385 horsepower as the XKR reaches 510.



And the rotary dial gear selector from the XF sedan has made its way into the XK. Does anyone really like this? A knob larger than BMW's iDrive that controls only one thing...the gear? And I'm on the record as not liking iDrive...or any intrusion of a "mouse" into the console. A lever would do just as well...in fact, better. As bad as Jag's old automatic J-gate shifter was, there was some sense of having locked in a gear. And that's not there with the rotary.

And then there's price. Base for the XK Convertible is now $88,150. Ours had only one option...HD Radio (digital broadcasting technology that makes AM sound as good as FM and FM as good as CD, while allowing up to 3 additional channels to each FM signal). It costs $300, and there are several issues. Perhaps the biggest: There are so few cars with HD available, and even home units cost $300, that there's nearly no one listening...and that means broadcasters are getting edgy. There's a real chance, unless manufacturers start making HD Radio standard equipment(and cutting themselves out of $300 per car) that broadcasters will abandon HD Radio as a failed experiment sooner or later. And you'll be $300 lighter with a radio that gets nothing but plain old analog AM and FM.

The other problem is one that I ran across in the last Jag convertible I tested. And that is that the standard 525 watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system just doesn't sound very good. Run it loud enough to compensate for the usual convertible noises and it can't get there. The whole thing sounds thin and bordering on distortion. Admittedly, the acoustics of convertibles, both in terms of extra noise and limited places to put speakers, are a challenge. But other manufacturers found their solutions long ago.

Anyway, with HD Radio and transportation charges, the bottom line was $89,300. EPA estimates, if anyone is counting, are 16 city/22 highway.

The XK is what it is and you're either a likely buyer or not. The good news is that a change in ownership so far appears to not be a factor in your decision.

Jeremy Clarkson at Top Gear pretty well nails how gorgeous and how much fun it is to drive in this piece, done before the power bump, the rotary shifter and the sale to Tata:



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