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Road & Travel's Sexy Car Buyer's Guide

Jaguar XK
2004 Jaguar XK

Is there anything like the Jaguar XK? With such mes-merizing feline grace, she (what else could it be?) leaps forward from a stop with cat-paw grip, then glides effortlessly along whatever road she chooses, entrancing anyone within view with her deer-in-the-headlights dominance.

Ah, the ability to overpower a helpless target with a mere glance. An Angelina Jolie kind of impact, perhaps, as the smoky-eyed actress, with tattoos hidden under her catlike Tomb Raider body suit, toys with her prey but never loses that all-important element: control.

Authority could be the operative word here, the kind you get from a six-speed trans propelling Jag's 4.2-liter AJ-V8, refined last year, that churns out 294-HP in the XK8 version or a gutsy 390 in the turbocharged XKR (even with an automatic speed limiter engaged for a self-imposed reality check). Such driving dominance is part of the mantra of the XK that, starting this month, fast forwards into 2005 territory with an even more aggressive, solid stance.

There's a deeper grille mouth that seemingly could gobble up, shark-like, any competitor it found in its way. Available larger tires (19- or 20-inch depending on version) highlight changes in this sultry sports coupe or convertible that demands exclusivity. (A premier auto beginning in the $70 K range seems to have that effect.) Mesh grille, quad tailpipe finishers plus a new, larger spoiler beef up the ultimate, turbo-boosted XKR. Luminescent luxury in the sportscar-tight interior, splashed with new rich Elm or Piano Black veneer, complement the voluptuous exterior lines.

Simply viewing the XK promises to pale the male knees, or perhaps boost the cunning of the female owner on the prowl. Does the XK -- like Jolie -- exude a sense of indomitable spirit? Tomb raiders and world conquerors usually do.