SEX APPEAL - SPORTS CAR OF THE YEAR
2007 Jaguar XK/XKR
sex appeal can be subjective. Knowing how to tap into it can be an art. Taking a sleek, lightweight chassis and blending it with oversize, powerhouse wheels, a minimalist appearing cabin with high beltline-framed windows, bold haunches, devouring headlamp "eyes" for a hungering-for-the-hunt appearance and the impact can be just sensational. Jaguar's new XK could use up all the appropriate adjectives and still beg for more -- it's that stunning. The combination must have been irresistible for ICOTY judges gauging the best sports car of the year. Jag's sultry, intimidating XK design and more recent, supercharged XKR command, so wowed the jury they voted top Sports Car category honors to this British-heritage jungle cat.
Like any lean predator with prowess to spare, the XK/XKR leans on untamed power to launch it into action, then lope along with road devouring ease and paw-grip agility. Such power under the hood of the supercharge "R" comes from its 420 bhp-rated, 4.2-liter V-8 with six speed "paddle shift" automatic. A dominating challenge thunders through quad exhaust "speakers." More subdued cruising speeds refine its throaty roar, until it announces its climb back into the chase.
Oomph time for the supercharged R comes from zero to 60 in a scant 4.9 seconds as it climbs towards its electronically-limited 155 mph top speed. A ride inside offers tactile touches of pure luxury set in handsome attire. Keyless start and Active Front Lighting are among advanced technology features over and under the hood. With all that built in, here's one cat undoubtedly designed to make its competitors feel like prey.
Having your sunshine and enjoying it too is a winning combination with Mazda's MX-5 Miata's latest addition.
The legendary two-seater roadster finally got a power retractable hard top of its own. Soft tops have always been a part of the little sports car that has sold more than any other in history. Cloth tops took less storage space than a mechanized hard top. But newer, lightweight materials and a unique folding method solved the problem, without losing luggage area in the trunk.
Mazda has made some suspension changes to accommodate the extra 80 pounds the hard top weighs. Spritely handling is the heart of the little roadster that virtually reinvented the category in 1989. Mazda has gone to alpha numeric designations for its vehicles, including renaming the roadster as the MX-5 with development of an all new third generation model a year ago. That change has been lost on many fans who still refer to it as Miata.
Saturn's two seater Sky sports car, launched a year ago as a roadster, was an immediate attention grabber, winning "ooohs" and "aaahs" from fans all over. Its molded sensuous body shape, snarly face, muscular appearance and drop dead gorgeous interior seemed perfect as they were. But Saturn went a step further for 2007 by adding power to its performance with the introduction of a Red Line edition.
Underlying the change is a turbocharged Ecotec 2.0-liter inline four that ups horsepower to 260 -- the same number as for torque. Stability and suspension technology was upped to accommodate the change. Weight distribution now at near 50/50 provides balanced handling during challenging road runs. Among visual changes: Dual polished aluminum exhaust, 18-inch polished aluminum alloy wheels, and functional brake cooling vents. Red Line gauges, stainless steel pedal covers, leather wrapped steering and other specific design touches highlight the difference.