We’re going to try something new today. I’m going to tell you this, and I want you to keep this between just us two, okay? I’m not proud of this, but this weight is too burdensome for me to carry alone:
I have never driven a Jaguar.
There. It’s out there. Do I feel better? Now that my shame is out there for the whole world to see? I guess, now I can wear my failure on the outside.
But I don’t have to live like this forever. Just minutes ago I got a text from the fellow who came up with the idea for this site – you know him, he’s the guy who took the pictures you see arranged about the page! – and he told me that he’s arranged a photoshoot with a Jaguar XKR. Through the magic of time travel (or rather just getting on top of the editorial workload) I’m writing about it before these pictures were taken today. Pretty cool, right?
Anyway, back to the whole “trying something new bit”. Since I’ve never driven a Jaguar, I’m going to give you 500 words on what I think about Jaguars, and possibly this very *checks Wikipedia* X150 chassis XKR? I think, anyway. I didn’t get a year. Assuming I don’t get otherwise entangled between now and the shoot, I’m going to give you 500 words after, so we might be able to see how my life has changed for the better or worse, and, now that you have grown accustomed to my woeful shortcomings, I’ll try to be honest. Anyway, here goes:
My dad likes Jaguars. He never owned one. But he likes them. For a dyed-in-the-wool Oldsmobile guy, that’s high praise. And not just the Series I, covered-headlight, Alphabet-Soup-Types Don Draper hawked in that show I definitely tell people I’ve watched. No, he had a thing for the Ford-era Jaguars – the 1990s XKs, the one that played a supporting role in the third installment of the Austin Powers series. Neat.
Like any kid, I’m supposed to love what my dad likes until I’m 12, hate it until I’m 23, and then secretly love it again in some momentous coming of age providing guiding spiritual perspective or whatever. Jaguars, for someone who religiously reads car magazines and then e-zines (hell YES I subscribed to the PDF copies of Winding Road, thank you very much) and then wrote agitated grayed-out comments at Jalopnik, present a bit of a problem for me.
Because – and again, this is coming from years of unfounded biases based purely on what automotive journalists, who are the final arbiters of unflappable justice in our world, have written – people love the idea of a Jaguar, and maybe courteously scoff at the reality ownership presents. It’s like Amaro, where you know you’re supposed to like it because more stylish people than you like it even though you know it’ll leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Compelling from a visceral standpoint, but, if I can borrow from Patty Smith here, sometimes love just ain’t enough.
Over the years, they’re perennially fourth runner-up in just about every comparison test across any segment even the sadists in BMW’s product development dungeon can conjure from their daily goat sacrifices to the Hoffmeister Kink. You don’t buy a Jaguar because it’s your best option, like, ever. Jaguars are the kinds of cars that British journalists write about and the entire world collectively rolls their eyes because you could have had a 911. The Wikipedia page notes that Top Gear magazine awarded this particular car both “Car of the Year” and “GT Car of the Year” in 2006.
The defense rests.
So, a mountain of negativity for some lone 2+2 GT car built with style and hiding Ford parts as paramount. Should be a super fun Sunday in January schlepping camera gear in authentic Texas-in-January weather, y’all.
Right on cue, Spotify’s algorithm just dialed up the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the UK”.
I’ll say this: my dad is a smart guy. Not necessarily drawn to this sort of gauche display of Britishness on any given day, so if it can win the heart of someone dedicated to Lansing’s finest extinct automotive lifestyle brand, perhaps it’s worth some reflection on my part. I know I’m supposed to try to find all the Mondeo parts that will end up falling off the car when they hit the sub-$10,000 mark on Craigslist in like 27 minutes. Still: I want to live what he was on about for a moment.
I’ll see y’all on the other side.
Let’s get this out of the way: that color is Kyanite Blue and it is a gift that Jaguar has bestowed up on the public for their consumption.
I’ll also get this right out of the way up front: you will find a way to lie to yourself about the bits that feel cheap. And, just a couple hours removed from driving the car, they do feel cheap. I can say that out loud. I don’t want to. But we’re being honest today.
The phrase “achingly beautiful” anthropomorphizes cars in a way that I am uncomfortable with, so I’ll try to find a different way to express how you will engage with this car visually: you will almost certainly be struck by a vehicle moving through a parking lot because you will frequently turn around once you’ve parked to get drunk on those proportions and that color. It’s arresting, and that rear three-quarter view is where you’ll start lying to yourself about drowning in an ocean of up-market plastics.
Wikipedia tells me that there are 2,173 miles of restricted access motorways in the United Kingdom, which is a surprisingly low number for a country that developed such a capable GT. There are a lot of things I believe a comparable 911 would do better; but, doing a better job covering 1,000 miles in a day might not be one of them.
The ride in every mode seems to have been tuned for 75+ mph, quite obviously. The supercharged V8 has a surplus of torque up, down, and anywhere in the general vicinity of the power curve. It makes the right noises when called upon in an invigorated manner, and in sport mode the automatic is fine. It’s not PDK but I’ve been strictly instructed not to hold that against every other car that was never offered with a clutch.
Would I buy one? Does it make me feel like I should buy a new wardrobe? Can I reconcile that with every confirmed bias I had walking in? Sure, reluctantly, and damn right I can, respectively. This car doesn’t do anything right down the middle. The interior quality – although this one has really held up thanks to doting ownership – is less than ideal for the original MSRP.
But it doesn’t sell for original MSRP anymore. For the current resale, the burbles and crackles on overrun are hilarious in a way that speaks to me as a 12-year-old with a mortgage. It’s not a Germanic V8 that sounds like it had a rough childhood and never dealt with it appropriately, but operatic and more than happy to burble and sing.
At the end of the shoot, when I wanted a quiet and warm place to be, I was thrilled to hop back in the XKR and have it whisk me home. It’s not perfect, but it’s a weird mix of charming and lovable. Near as I can tell, that’s what my dad and those legions of British motoring journalists were on about.