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"Oh, that I have lived to own this car," gushed one of CNET's more effusive readers in response to our first take of the 2007 Jaguar XK Coupe. It is difficult not to share this enthusiasm. Originally envisioned as a convertible, the redesigned, all-aluminum 2007 XK is heartbreakingly gorgeous. Flared rear haunches, a short snout, and an arcing hood that goes on forever combine to give the XK a character of brawny elegance. Under the hood, an all-aluminum 300-horspeower naturally aspirated V-8 engine enables the Big Cat to purr along in the fast lane, while Jaguar's eCATS electronic suspension gives it impeccable road manners on the twistiest of roads. Inside, the 2007 XK combines classic comfort with updated cabin tech, with burled walnut and soft-grain leather surrounding an as-standard touch-screen navigation system. Other tech highlights include Bluetooth hands-free calling, which failed to work in our test model, and a screen-based rear parking meter. The XK's standard audio system fails to live up to the car's high-end refinements--or its price tag. Our tester came with the leather-and-wood Luxury Package ($3,300) and the Advanced Technology Package ($2,500), comprising adaptive cruise control and adaptive front headlights. With a base price of $74,835 and a $665 handling fee, our 2007 XK purred off the lot for $81,300. The 2007 Jaguar XK is a two-seat sports car in four-seater clothing. The only passengers who will be able to fit in the back will have to be in baby seats, and even that will be a squeeze if the driver or front passenger is more than six feet tall. Headroom is equally limited in the front, and if it were not for the XK's 16-way power-adjustable seats, we would have spent our week with the car nursing a cricked neck. The reason for the lack of space is that the XK is a low (52 inches), and relatively lightweight (3,671 lbs.) car; the EPA even classifies it as a "subcompact" for fuel economy purposes.
When finally installed in the cozy cockpit of the XK, things get a little more comfortable. Interior trim is in keeping with Jaguar's luxury reputation: burled walnut veneer, the aforementioned power seats, and a wood-and-leather-trimmed shifter came as part of our car's $3,300 Luxury Package. Amid the classical interior details are plenty of cabin tech features to differentiate the 2007 XK from its predecessors. The most conspicuous of these is a red Start push-button set into the wood-trimmed center console, which allows drivers to fire up the XK without removing the key fob from their pockets.
The XK's navigation system has been overhauled and updated since we evaluated it in the 2006 Jaguar XKR, and we found its high-resolution maps (in full or split screen) and turn-by-turn voice guidance accurate and quick to help us out when we missed our highway exit--one of the perils of driving permanently in the left-hand lane.
Destinations can be programmed by all of the usual means (address/point of interest/coordinates) as well as by a neat feature in the touch screen that enables navigators to use directional arrows to scroll through an overhead map of the immediate area. While the LCD navigation screen is slightly bigger and brighter than that in the '06 XKR, we still have a few issues with its visibility; it is sunk a few inches into the dash, which makes it unnecessarily difficult to see from an angle.
The other gripe we have with the nav system is the integration with Macromedia Flash, which makes the menu screens appear and disappear using animated graphics. Although it's a nice visual touch, the delay while waiting for the menus to pop in and out can become annoying when you want to find the nearest gas station before the lights change. While the 2007 Jaguar XK comes with Bluetooth hands-free calling as standard, our tester failed to find a number of Bluetooth-enabled cell phones, including the LG VX8100, which Jaguar lists as one of the phones it has tested with the system. Had we been able to pair our phone, a button on the steering wheel would have enabled us to receive calls, with outgoing calls made via the touch screen.
Other steering wheel controls come in the form of rubber rollers, which are used to control stereo volume and track selection, as well as settings for adaptive cruise control. We like these tactile controls, particularly because they are not susceptible to accidental flicks or nudges.
Aside from the nonworking Bluetooth, the XK's standard stereo provided our only real cause for complaint. There is nothing terrible about the 160-watt, six-speaker audio system: it plays MP3 and WMA CDs, giving detailed ID3 tag information, and the folder/track navigation is logical and user-friendly. However, sound quality is not all it could be for a car of this class; bass becomes buzzy near the top of the range, and while clarity and depth are good, the midrange has a tendency to squawk at high volume.
Jaguar offers an optional 8-speaker, 525-watt Alpine premium sound system with Sirius Satellite Radio for an extra $1,875--a worthwhile drop in the ocean if you've already parted with more than 80 grand for the rest of the car. The 2007 Jaguar XK is a beauty from the outside. Sleek, elegant lines with a raked roof combine with a pugnacious front nose to strike a balance between grace and guts. A couple of vertical vents in the front fenders topped by Jaguar badges break up the car's lines and serve to inform passersby that this is not an Aston Martin.