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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Jaguar XKR Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Jaguar XKR Overview

Love at First Bite

Some cars are more than metal and rubber. They are extensions of our deepest emotions, encasing desire, beauty and passion in a solid form that tantalizes our eyes and puts knots in our stomachs. Jaguar cars certainly fall into this realm, with a number of classic designs that span the decades. Today, Jaguar is still creating lovely cars and the stunning XK8 coupe is certainly one that is destined to become a classic.

The XK is available as either a hardtop coupe or stylish convertible and is offered in two trims: the XK8 and XKR. Its short deck and long hood echo the great Jaguar cars of the past—such as the timeless 1961-1964 E-type 3.8. At every stop, our bright red XKR convertible drew admiring glances followed by words of admiration, such as "sculpture on wheels," and "simply stunning." Be warned, if you are a shy person who does not care for the limelight, you probably should look for a more commonplace vehicle.

A wonderfully smooth 4.2-liter V8 engine that develops 294 horsepower motivates the XK8. The V8 is joined to a marvelous ZF six-speed automatic transmission that delivers the most seamless shifts, even when accelerating rapidly, and together the two make driving the XK8 a joy. Of course, if you're handing over the kind of money an XK commands, you want more than just a powerful engine and premium transmission; to this end, Jaguar has equipped the XK with features and gadgets that would impress 007 himself. The seats and door panels are covered in fine leathers and the entire dash face and center console are covered in burl walnut wood. The 320-watt Alpine audio system and the HVAC controls are placed together near the base of the console; they are easy to locate and operate, even at night. Just about everything you touch is power operated, from the self-latching convertible top to the adjustable front-seat headrest. Optional on the XK is Jaguar's navigation system, which is located in the center of the dash and thankfully is not integrated into the audio or air conditioning controls; the system works simply and accurately and was employed on more than one occasion after losing our way while having too much fun on twisting back roads.

The XK's cockpit is a bit snug and the back seat is not fit for anything larger than a Gucci shopping bag; with the front seat fully extended, a tight seal is formed between it and the rear seat cushion, eliminating any remnant of legroom. And you'll have to acclimate yourself to some of the switchgear, which seems to have a logic all its own. For example, to adjust the brightness of the dashboard lights, you'll need to reach for a small knob located at the base of the steering column. Toggle switches that turn things on—like the cruise control and sport settings for the automatic transmission—pop up when in the "on" position and depress to turn off. You will also want to take note of the handbrake, which is located to the left of the driver's seat. When engaged, the handle does not remain in the upright position as not to block entry and exit from the car. To disengage the brake, you must pull the lever back to the top of its travel, depress the brake release button and then lower the handle back down. With the door closed, it's a tight fit to reach the handle and depressing the brake release button sometimes required the use of both hands. But these are really minor nitpicks and after a week or so, you'll grow accustomed to the Jaguar way of doing things.

For those who prefer more performance than the XK8 provides, Jaguar offers the XKR. To the already impressive features of the XK8, the XKR adds a super-charged V8 engine rated at 390 horsepower, 18-inch wheels and stiffer suspension. From the sweet sound of the dual exhaust to the feeling you'll get in the pit of your stomach as the super-charger kicks in, few things in life are as rewarding as a day spent driving an XKR. Our convertible model handled like a dream and never uttered even a whisper of tire howl, no matter how fast or how hard we pushed it through the curves. The chassis does flex and shake a little, but that is to be expected when the structural support of a hardtop roof is removed. And since Jaguar says that of all the XKs sold in the United States, nearly 90% are convertibles, apparently a little flexing doesn't seem to bother Jag owners one bit.

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