In my initial review of the new XK last May, I intimated that, with the new generation, Jaguar finally made it a proper sports car. I drove an XK convertible the other day, and I still haven't changed my mind. The XK is fast, tightly sprung and responsive, yet maintains an absolute feeling of luxury and style that makes it undeniably Jaguar. In reconstructing the XK for the new millennium, I feel Jag really hit its mark.
Doubtless some will argue the XK is not as hardcore sporty as, say, a 911, and heck, it's probably not. It's built more as a posh boulevard cruiser than a potent track-day weapon, but again, that's just more signature Jaguar. It's still pretty sporty. I did all my driving on surface streets and consequently left traction control in the 'on' position. Judging from the seat of my pants, the car feels pretty tail-happy. No doubt with the traction control switched off, you could slide this thing around for days.
There are still those who make fun of the grille and how it 'copied' that of the Ford Taurus. When people say things like that, it makes me sad and want to punch them. Saying this car looks like a Taurus is like saying Angelina Jolie looks like John Voight because she inherited his mouth. For the record, Jag chief designer, Ian Callum,claims the guy who designed the Taurus took a page out of Callum's book, so to speak. The ovoid grille is an original Callum design cue adapted from his work at Aston Martin. So there. -Karl Funke
From The Hip
+ Lively rear end, growly V8 soundtrack
- Contentious front end may cause finger-pointing
2007 Jaguar XK Convertible
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
4.2-liter V8, dohc, four valves per cylinder
Peak Power: 300 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Peak Torque: 310 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm
0-60 mph: 5.9 sec.
Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)
Fuel Economy: 18 city/27 hwy
Price as Tested: $88,800
Corners are for going around, not cutting
A base Cayman rolled through our offices last week and I was surprised no one fought over the keys. This was a first. Then I remembered I made a point not to tell anyone it was in.
I noticed the five-speed manual immediately. When was the last time you saw a five-speed in a sports car? The second thing was the interior trim bits, pieces that a looked bit rough. I forgot about this once seated-Porsche seats are great and these are no exception. A good seating position and a fine three-spoke steering wheel further the effect. The Cayman's 2.7-liter flat six makes great sounds, sort of a growly-purr, and the trip through the deserted parking garage yielded the cat-like reflexes one associates with Porsche cars. Poking through traffic was uneventful right up to the point I needed to jet around two lanes of cars to make my on-ramp. The Cayman doesn't really wake up until 5000 rpm; low-end maneuvers like this are difficult. There's too much space between the gears, space I'm sure a six-speed could rectify.
At 80 mph, cabin noise is not an issue (although I keep searching for another gear) and the Cayman exhibits excellent straight-line manners. It's just as good in the curvy sections too-everything they tell you about the superiority of mid-engine vehicles starts to make sense.
Porsche was smart to introduce the Cayman S before the base model. Had journalists drove the car featured on this page, I don't think the Cayman would have so many fans. It's not that it isn't handsome or street-wise. It's just that to come in at this price, too many corners have been cut-it lessens the 'Porsche' experience.
Apparently, there are two camps: those that love the new Porsche Cayman and those that hate it.
I'm in neither.
The nays claim it's not a real Porsche; destined for the same ill fates that befell the 914, 924 and 928. By serving as filler between the Boxster and the new 911, the Cayman makes too many compromises and dilutes Porsche's integrity. There should be no such thing as a 'budget Porsche'.
The ayes expound on its handsome looks, dynamics and solid engineering. They also like the fact it's not as expensive as the 911.
I've listened to both sides for months now and can't totally agree with either.
At $40,000, the Cayman is a fine car. I'll leave it at that. -Les Bidrawn
From The Hip
+ Surgical handling, gorgeous curves, exhaust note
- Sub-par cabin, low-end response, price
2007 Porsche Cayman
Longitudinal mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
2.7-liter flat six, dohc, four valves per cylinder
Peak Power: 245 bhp @ 6500 rpm
Peak Torque: 201 lb-ft @ 4600 rpm
0-60 mph: 6.0 sec
Top Speed: 161 mph
Fuel Economy: 22 city/31 hwy
Price as Tested $52,500