Jaguar XK Convertible

11Apr07

Jaguar XK Convertible

Jaguar XK convertible

Jeremy Clarkson reviews the Jaguar XK Convertible

If you go faster than 130mph the front end starts to get a bit light. EU rules say that the compulsory third brake light has to be mounted within a certain distance of the rear window. And because the rear window is small for an easy fit in the boot, the only place to fit the brake light is on top of a big rear spoiler. Because it’s so big, the front of the car starts to “lift” at speed.

Of course, you wouldn’t expect there to be a similar problem in the coupé, which has a big rear window. However due to the need to economise, both models get the same spoiler. So both have the same high-speed handling issue.

You see a similar thing going on with the aerial. Most cars these days have one inside the front windscreen, hidden away. But because the Jag has a heated front windscreen, and the heater elements mess with the reception, it comes with exactly the sort of electric antenna that was high-tech in the seventies.

This car is made in the same factory that used to churn out second world war Spitfires. On the move this turns into a muted version of the noise you got from 1970s American muscle cars. You’ll adore it.

You will also adore the simplicity of the undersides. It rides on proper suspension, not some oleohydrypneumatic nonsense, the controls work brilliantly and while the back seats aren’t big enough for hitchhikers, or even their carrier bags, the front is spacious and wonderful.

There’s only one small thing. The Aston Martin V8 Vantage. This comes from the same company, Ford, was designed in essence by the same man and has basically the same engine. But it sounds even better and is even prettier to behold. So, would you always think, if you had the Jag, that you’d bought second best? Honest answer? Yes. But there is another way of looking at it. Aston Martin has a properly crap reliability record whereas the latest figures put Jag ahead of every other car maker in the world except Lexus. So what you have with the XK is a reliable way of enjoying at least some of the Aston magic.

It’s like Cape Town, then. You have a taste of Africa without the malaria, the flies in your eyes or having your genitals cut off by angry locals. Yes, the wine’s rubbish, but like the aerial and that high-speed lift it’s a small price to pay.

VITAL STATISTICS

Model Jaguar XK 4.2 convertible
Engine 4196cc, V8
Power 300bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque 310 lb ft @ 4100rpm
Transmission Six-speed automatic
Fuel 25mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 269g/km
Acceleration 0-62mph: 6.2sec
Top speed 155mph
Verdict A spectacular savannah cruiser and more reliable than the Vantage

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