“That yours?” asked the man standing outside the 7-Eleven.
“Nope,” I said.
“Didn’t think so,” he said.
Ouch! After all, I had driven up in this 2007 Jaguar XKR convertible, and he couldn’t have seen the manufacturer’s license plate on the back, nor could he be aware that I was about to purchase a Diet Dr Pepper with pennies and nickels.
But clearly, there is something so non-Jaguar XKR about me that he was confident I was, I suppose, a thief, a repo man, off-duty Jaguar salesman or, heaven forfend, a poor but honest automotive journalist. Sadly, I had driven up to this very 7-Eleven barely a week earlier in a Kia Rio, and nobody thought it wasn’t mine.
In retrospect, I should have told him I owned the Jaguar, and flashed the $50 bill my wife lets me keep folded up in my wallet for emergencies, but who would I be kidding? Just some elderly psychic standing outside a store with nothing better to do than break a man’s heart.
Anyway, about this Jaguar: The XK debuted as a 1997 model and was the first genuine sign since Ford bought the company in 1989 that they intended to at least try and return some magic to the marque. The graceful shape and taut chassis could not be denied, though the 290-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-8 seemed a little tame.
That XK kept the Jaguar flame burning until the 2007 model year, when this long-awaited redesign debuted, and while it wasn’t the groundbreaker from a decade before, it advanced the XK in every way.
The regular XK coupe and convertible are powered by a 4.2-liter, 300-horsepower V-8, while the sportier XKR has a supercharged version of the 4.2-liter V-8 that pumps out a means-business 420 horsepower. Jaguar still doesn’t offer a manual transmission, but the six-speed automatic works very well.
The 1997 XK was more fun to be seen in than to drive: Not so the 2007 model, especially the XKR. Yes, the rear seats are useless and trunk space, especially with the convertible, is marginal, but no one buys an XKR for carpooling. A Chevrolet Corvette convertible, for about $39,000 less, goes just as fast and handles better, but there’s an elegance to this XKR that no Corvette has yet approached.
We still hear the occasional grim story about Jaguar workmanship, but the test XKR showed no evidence of pending problems. The leather interior and woodgrain trim was applied and executed to perfection, and mechanically, everything worked as it should. As it certainly should for $96,010 — that included a “premium sound package” ($1,875) and a “luxury package” ($2,100) that upgraded some interior trim.
I may not look like an XKR owner, but to those who are: Good choice.