Soon thereafter, we exit the tranquility of the highway and head for the twisty hills where high-powered European machines can demonstrate their athleticism. Our guide, the Englishman piloting a right-hand drive XJ Super V8 full of luggage, simply hammers his large sedan along narrow stretches of ascending and descending pavement set amidst wind-swept backcountry fields. We follow close enough to practically swap paint, an accomplished Formula Three racer turned journalist at the XKR's wheel next to me, and I'm exhibiting both an increased respiratory rate and utmost confidence. Curvy roads are straightened, paddle shifting is executed with precise efficiency, left-foot braking perfectly addresses entry speed without scrubbing kph's, and the laws of physics are tested at the end of each and every straightaway. With the speedometer needle reaching roughly 200 kph, the 2007 Jaguar XKR never breaks a sweat and tracks squarely all the while with nary a whimper from the traction or stability control systems. Smooth. Guardrails are left unmarred for another day; my digestive system remains intact. Dancing with death has never been so exhilarating.
Under the direction of a semi-professional, the 2007 Jaguar XKR, available in both coupe and convertible versions starting after the first of the year, proves successful at blending luxurious refinement with a genuine grand touring character. And with all that supercharged power, not to mention a rich interior and stable chassis, average Joes and Janes are guaranteed their own level of fun and excitement. That's good news for Jaguar, a Ford-owned company with an ongoing aversion to profitability and competing with heavyweights such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz. But a possible turnaround is on the horizon – the new XJ sedan has drawn its share of praise, and the redesigned XK, on which the XKR is based, has been a hot seller. With more grunt and testosterone, the 2007 XKR looks to continue the upward swing.