The sense of occasion
A rich legacy established by luxurious saloons, racetrack victories and sleek, sexy roadsters, had for decades made Jaguar a symbol of affluence for wealthy Britons.
Sports cars like the E-type cemented Jaguar's reputation for gorgeous design, and owners prized them for the elite, yet hip image they projected.
And yet, in the years leading up to the new millennium, Jaguar seemed to lose its focus and its vehicles had become frumpy and dated. A decade of ownership by Ford, with an estimated injection of $50 billion in funds, failed to revive the brand, and in 2008, it was purchased by Tata Motors.
There's a certain poetic irony in a company from India coming to the rescue of one of the British Empire's most storied and venerable marques – and yet Jaguar has made a remarkable turnaround under their leadership. The XF has been a dazzling sales success, and the re-worked second generation of the XK coupe is everything a Jaguar should be.
It's no surprise that the XK was penned by designer Ian Callum, its resemblance to his achingly beautiful Aston Martin DB7 is unmistakable.
There are some vehicles that through a mysterious alchemy, become more than the sum of their parts, that somehow transcend being simple constructions of metal, rubber and glass.
My tester, the XK Portfolio Coupe is one of those cars that feels almost like a living creature, rather than a man-made machine.
It's a beautiful, flowing, organic shape – the all-aluminum skin is stretched taut over fluid curves. Like its legendary E-type ancestor, the XK has a long, elegant nose, and abbreviated deck atop coiled haunches.
The well-appointed cockpit boasts all the expected amenities, from premium materials to impressive technology such as a heated windshield and 525-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system.
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