Dream Drives Jaguar: The Jaguar XK and Jaguar XJ
filmmaker and author dream hampton describes her latest adventure driving two Jaguars.
Late last fall, I test drove a big bodied 2012 Jaguar XJ around Los Angeles. The cashmere metallic four-door sedan was so luxurious I damn near complained it didn’t come with a driver. (Never mind my “real” car’s a Ford that incidentally, not so long ago, owned Jaguar).
I so wanted to experience the backseat I parked in the lot of Venice Whole Foods and ate my sushi lunch behind the passenger seat from the wooden business trays. Because I’m classy like that. Indeed, it rivaled the Maybach for interior space and luxurious details.
This summer another Jaguar met me in Manhattan. The fleet company handed me a set of Intelligent keys to the Jaguar XK V8 coupe. In Crystal Blue Metallic paint, it’s an understatement that my car was a head turner. Jaguar literally took its cues from the cat for XK, the body hugs the ground and it springs into motion, accelerating to 60 in 5.2 seconds. Cab drivers slowed down to crane, leaving me lots of lane space to race from one red light to the next.
The low ride was so at one with Manhattan’s poorly paved roads, I felt like a barefoot sprinter. The engine, boosted by the Eaton supercharger, is such a finely designed piece of machinery, I’d gladly put it on my mantle, made racing lesser coupes down the West side highway an unfair proposition. Trust me when I tell you I tried to dissuade those suckers.
It produces the kick you expect, but it requires a bit of weight on the accelerator, more like a Ford Mustang drag then the hyper-responsiveness of say, a Lexus ISF. Jaguar’s signature shift knob needs no such coaxing though. It lifts to meet the driver’s palm after a press of the start engine button, shifts gears with the slight nudge of a single finger tip, as easy as operating an ipod wheel.
The low body can have its drawbacks when it’s not in motion. Getting in and out of the bucket seat requires either pants or panties and the absence of any curb whatsoever. But who wants to park or get out of this beauty? With a base price of $85,000 the XK is more than the Lexus ISF and less than Audi’s more powerful Audi R8, but it’s no one’s middle child.