Fellow Opponent Conrader mentioned that he was looking at a Jaguar at my local (relatively) CarMax, and since I had to go to Costco—a few minutes away—this weekend anyway, I figured I’d stop by and take a look at it. This turned out to be a bit more involved than I had bargained for, but a good time nonetheless. Driving a 380-horsepower V8 grand tourer usually is.

Purdy.

The very friendly salesman and I walked out to check it out, and quickly discovered that the battery was dead—apparently it has been sitting for some time, with looky-loos playing with the electric seats and whatnot but not actually taking it for a spin. Thus began the difficult task of figuring out how to jump-start an unfamiliar car with no visible battery or battery terminals. He grabbed a battery charger and went off to get one of the buyers who would be more familiar with Jaguar quirks. While he was gone, I figured it out: once you remove the key from inside the fob/remote to manually unlock and open the trunk, there’s a remote positive terminal behind a little plastic door next to the driver’s-side taillight. Under the supervision of the buyer, we hooked up the positive terminal there and the negative to the bolt for the spare tire mount and fired it up. Everything worked immediately, and it makes a good noise.

Time for a drive. The salesman decided that I could be trusted with this much horsepower on the grounds that I got there in a car with almost exactly 33% more ponies (he asked) without running into anything, so I put it in “sport mode,” engaged the paddle shifters, and went for a lovely but all-too-short hoon around the neighboring back streets. Unsurprisingly, the Jag XK is great! It’s long and low and pretty and has a 5.0-liter V8 that makes lovely rumbles and snorts, and it has a civilized ride (at least compared to my C63 with track package suspension) but still steers and handles reasonably nimbly. Nobody would confuse it for a track weapon, but that’s a good thing unless you yourself are a track weapon. And it’s plenty quick. Certainly quick enough off the line to spook a passenger or get yourself into trouble. I’d say that the paddle shifters are quicker to react than the ones in normal BMWs, but a little slower than PDK or the ones in the sportiest German models...but they’re not at all sluggish and were a lot of fun.

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The cockpit is a nice place to be. The seats are comfortable and very British: nice perforated leather, good support and comfort, but not rigid or heavily bolstered. Again, much more suited to a GT cruiser than a track weapon. It also has more shiny silver seat-adjustment buttons than I knew what to do with. And it has the softest carpeted headliner I’ve ever touched. Other impressions: I found the round dial gear selector to be neat but strange, although I’m sure I’d get used to it. I wished that the paddle shifters were silver too, rather than black—they’re a little small and hard to see, although they’re placed very intuitively so it’s not like you’d miss them with your fingers.

The driver’s position feels very spacious, but the rear seat is small for such a long car—it’s all hood and trunk. I’m 6'3" and I was very comfortable but nobody with legs could sit behind me. The salesman was probably about 5'8" and a rear seat passenger would have had some legroom behind him, although I’m not sure how much headroom a tall person would have.

Overall, Conrader, other than the dead battery it was in very good shape inside and out...no curb rash, very few if any rock chips, perhaps one little scratch on the rear bumper. Spotlessly clean under the hood and in the trunk area, and I have reason to know that every fastener is in place and tight, because I loosened and then retightened them all looking for the damn battery. I didn’t mess with the stereo or the screen but it played the radio quietly in the background and there weren’t any dead spots on the screen or anything. All the buttons I pushed did the things they were supposed to do. I took pictures of the only blemishes I could find on the interior—a little bit of wear on the driver’s seat bolster, a scuff or scrape behind the driver’s seat (probably just from someone climbing into the back seat and catching a snap or buckle on the way by—that happened in my M3 once), and a very Jaguar-y worn spot where the dashboard cover intersects with the plastic around the center climate control vents. I say Jaguar-y because its not really somewhere you’d touch a lot and didn’t look worn, it just looked like the glue or fastener at the seam wasn’t aging terribly well. I’ll put the pictures in the comments.

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Thanks for the excuse to drive a very nice car, Conrader. I didn’t ask about the logistics of buying it here and registering it there, but did mention that I was checking it out for a friend in Kansas, and the salesman said whether you pick it up here or ship it, it shouldn’t be a problem. If you do decide to fly out here to pick it up and road-trip it home, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed (unless you like to drive tall people around in your back seats), and I’d love to grab a beer before you head out on your trip.