2007 Jaguar XK

Forget the angular muscularity that's characteristic of some among the German breed of autos (if you can). This European-made model relies on an aluminum body to lighten the load and comes with more curves than a Henry Moore, from its sloping, windblown outline to its wide, catfish-mouth front hood.

The engineers in the Jag lab clearly went for smoother handling, opting for a new, automatic, six-speed transmission that makes acceleration a breeze - and relegating any of the jerking around associated with older models to classic-car rallies. Its 300 horsepower V-8 can hurtle the 3,671-pound chassis and body to 60 mph in just under six seconds, giving you a definite qualifier for the on-ramp 500. Throw in a new antilock-brake system and you can claim bragging rights to top-of-class road responsiveness.

The body is stiffened by a bonded aluminum manufacturing process for easier handling, and there's an adaptive suspension system to get the shock absorbers to work in sync with the engine and transmission. The effect is supposed to be something akin to a magic carpet ride - all forward motion without any sense of toil.

Ford had some quality issues to deal with when it took over Jaguar back in 1989, and took some heat for letting the brand's styling get a little stale while it focused on performance. The new-look 2007 XK is saying goodbye forever to the performance trouble and hello to its position right at the top of the luxury line. Jaguar is giving consumers a choice between coupe and convertible. Choices, choices ...

$75,500 base for the coupe and $81,500 for the convertible, plus options.