- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 10, 2005

This week, I received the thumbs-up sign from fellow motorists with great frequency. This accolade, of course, was for the car I was driving: a 2005 Jaguar XKR convertible.

This approval did not surprise me for it seems to go with the territory when driving a Jaguar. There is something about this manufacturer’s design that is pleasing to the eye — especially to women.

Compared to other Jaguars, the XK design has a more aggressive, muscular appearance. The front and rear bumpers are a bit lower and the side rocker panel extension seems to give the XK a bolder stance. Also on the XKR, the model I tested, there is a new tail pipe that grabs attention. In addition, the test car has a larger spoiler, giving the impression of a “hot” vehicle. All this sits on 20-inch alloy wheels.

I’m told there is a choice of 15 body colors, 11 of which are metallic, further adding strength to the appearance. There are four models from which to choose: XK8 Coupe and Convertible, with normally aspirated 4.2-liter V-8 engines, and XKR Coupe and Convertible with the supercharged 4.2-liter V-8 engines.

The test car was the latter, but the cold weather didn’t allow me to take full advantage of driving with the top down. I did lower the top once, which required only depressing a button on the center console while the brief operation took place. With the top lowered, the overall appearance is quite nice — so I didn’t bother concealing the top under the boot.

In my judgment, not allowing the top to go into the body is a wiser design, as it does not encroach on the depth of the rather large trunk space.

The XKR is a four-seater, with very attractive leather-covered bucket front seats. I think it’s better that the rear-seat occupants be children with very small legs. Besides, small kids are more agile, and more capable of crawling into the rear seat, which for me was somewhat difficult, especially with the top up. The rear seat also contains child-seat tethers.

The interior is appropriate for a vehicle costing $96,695. I especially appreciated the burl walnut veneer and the wood-and-leather steering wheel. And as expected of a high-priced car, there are loads of amenities, such as automatic climate control, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and electric tilt and telescopic steering wheel.

I had no trouble locating an ideal driving position by adjusting the seat with the use of power buttons. Then I locked that position into one of the two memory cells.

The XKR also had a 320-watt premium sound system with dial and buttons that are straightforward and easy to understand. The same applies to the heating-cooling system.

As for safety, the car is equipped with front and front-seat side air bags. However, if a quick turn of the wheel is required to avert a collision, this Jaguar features Dynamic Stability Control.

Reverse-control parking and a navigation system were other handy features. But the real enjoyment comes when stepping on the accelerator.

Under the hood is a 4.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine that quickly produces 390 horsepower and 399 foot-pounds of torque.

This power is coupled to a six-speed ZF automatic transmission. If desired, manual use of the shifter is available.

On the road, the disc brake with ABS allowed me to make quick and stable stops.

My conclusion is simple: In spite of the price, give the 2005 Jaguar XKR two thumbs up.

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