Next-generation Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS) has been implemented, a two-stage adaptive damping system engineered to offer an optimum balance between ride and handling. The previous CATS controlled the front and rear dampers in pairs, limiting control to pitch only. The new system controls all four dampers independently, allowing control over both pitch and roll for improved ride and driving balance. Of course, the new XK also offers the most up-to-date electronic safety systems like the Traction Control System (TCS) and Trac DSC. TCS aids stability by applying the brakes to a slipping drive wheel and transferring torque to the other. DSC uses selective braking and controls engine torque output to prevent excessive over- or understeer and excessive roll. Trac DSC expands the system's allowances for more experienced drivers (you know who you are) by slightly delaying DSC's intervening functions. Of course, if you feel you're a complete stud, DSC can also be turned off entirely by pressing and holding the DSC button, though it's not necessarily recommended.

In giving the car a sharper, sportier edge, Jaguar has really succeeded-both from styling and driving standpoints. The current XK always seemed like the premier old man's cruiser-powerful, yes, prestigious, yes, but just a little too reserved to be considered a real sports car. The new XK retains a lot of the current car's grand touring persona, but it's very evident the genetic makeup has been boosted with considerably more true sports-car DNA. Drive it hard and it will beg to be driven harder. Improved chassis dynamics, more power, exceptional brakes and the sequential-shift transmission all add up to something fundamentally more hardcore than offerings heretofore.

On the other hand, the new XK is not, perhaps, quite the grand touring machine it once was. Traditional buyers may not warm as quickly to its edgy, avant-garde styling or its more raw driving character. But at the same time I believe Jaguar has really opened the car up and made it more appealing to a much broader audience-including snot-nosed brats like myself. In any case, there's little doubt they've created an extraordinary sporting platform.

The new XK is scheduled to go on sale in April. Expect to pay $75,500 for a coupe and $81,500 for the convertible.

JAGUAR XK 4.2L V8
Base Price: $75,500 (coupe) $81,500 (convertible)
Drivetrain
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine
4.2-liter V8, dohc, four valves per cylinder
Transmission
Six-speed sequential automatic
Suspension
Unequal length wishbones, coil springs and telescopic dampers, next-generation CATS
Brakes
Four-channel ABS, ventilated discs, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution
Dimensions
Length x Width x Height (in.): 188.2 x 81.5 x 52.0
Wheelbase: 108.3 in.
Curb Weight: 3,671 lb (coupe), 3,759 lb (convertible)
Performance
Peak Power: 300 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Peak Torque: 310 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm
0-60 mph: 5.9 sec.
Top Speed: 155 mph (electronically limited)

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