2009 Jaguar XK Series
When Jaguar released its new XK
two years ago, some cried foul. “It looks too much like an Aston Martin,” they grumbled. Really? First off, successfully emulating the seductive lines of Aston’s GTs can hardly be considered a misstep for anyone looking to move cars off dealer lots. Second, considering it was designed by Ian Callum of Aston Martin DB7
design fame, visual parallels are to be expected. But the XK isn’t the cut-rate V8 Vantage its look might suggest. The Jaguar is less about being a hardcore sports car, more about being an inviting, comfortable mileage-crusher, with a cabin that’s as comfortable as your grandmother’s den – so long as your grandmother is royalty. Ditching a button-filled dash in favor of a modern touch-screen system has gone a long way to de-cluttering the center console, and the seats incorporate a soft leather hide that make those of the German competition feel mechanical and insipid by comparison. Without a doubt, this car is worthy of a heritage that dates all the way back to the classic Jaguar E-Type.
What's to Like
Interior quality is everything you’d expect from Jaguar, and then some – plush, cushy and elegant. While some might bemoan and exclusive use of an automatic gearbox, Jaguar’s ZF-sourced six-speed is arguably one of the best traditional automatics available today.
What's Not to Like
With prices starting at $77,975, the XK requires some serious outlay for a relatively heavy car with just 300 horsepower. It’s no slouch, but with that kind of price tag it really should be faster. No limited-slip differential is available, which limits the Jag’s dynamic appeal.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
The XK delivers the kind of refined GT experience its outward appearance and proportions would suggest. The light helm suits its character and is surprisingly accurate given its lack of tactility, and the eCATS active suspension gives the car a generally planted feel that’s only interrupted by the most broken of surfaces. On wet pavement the ESP can be overly intrusive, and it takes a full 10-second hold of the traction control button to fully disable it, but it’s nice to know it will be there to catch you when things go wrong. Not that you’ll often find yourself going into a corner too hot – the brakes are well up to the task of hauling the XK down from speed, and feel increasingly confident the harder you press on them.
Engine and Drivetrain
The XK gets its power from a vocal 4.2-liter V-8 engine that cranks out 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, enough to get the coupe to 60 mph in roughly six seconds. Power is transmitted to the rear wheels via a six-speed ZF automatic transmission with paddle shifters and a dedicated sport mode. Those looking for a little more grunt would be advised to check out the 420 hp supercharged XKR.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
The first time you try to let a passenger into XK, you might look a bit foolish. This is thanks to an especially weird set of door locks, which are integrated into the handles so that you push or pull the entire mechanism to trigger the lock. Also of note is the ASL button on the center console, or “Automatic Speed Limiter.” It essentially assures you don’t accelerate beyond a speed you’ve set with the cruise control – not such a big deal here, but an absolute necessity in speed camera-inundated Britain.
Key Technology Evaluation
There is a lot of luxury built into the standard XK, but adaptive cruise control, 16-way power seats and a heated steering wheel will cost you extra. A USB link for your iPod comes standard, but the interface doesn’t allow for going back one track, so if you skip a song, don’t expect to hear it until you’ve looped through your entire playlist. Inflatable side bolsters on the seats provide the best of both worlds – loose, comfortable freeway cruises and snug, sporty canyon drives.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
It’s no Honda Insight, but the Jaguar XK’s fuel economy does come with some shock value. In the city it’s predictably dismal at 16 mpg, but cruising on the highway will yield 25 mpg – an impressive figure for a 3,671 lb V-8 powered coupe. The engine’s clean to boot, sporting a ULEV emissions rating.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
Simplified by a multiple menu touchscreen system, the XK’s interior is able to avoid heavy use of buttons, and achieves a clean interface as a result. Seemingly every surface is covered in some form of soft leather. Stylish and elegant, it leaves little room for improvement.
One look at the XK and you know it’s capable of speed, yet it keeps its muscular side in check achieving a civilized yet brawny look. Think professional hitman in a custom tailored suit. Strangely, the low roofline has a tendency to allow water to drip onto the doorsill when the door is opened in the rain.
Market Segment and Pricing
The Jaguar XK starts at an MSRP of $77,975, but with options like $5,000 20-inch rims and a $2,300 Luxury Package, prices can rise quickly. The $78,200 BMW 650i
and $76.300 Porsche 911
constitute the XK’s main rivalry, although buyers on the fence between hardcore performance car and plush GT might be tempted by the $76,840 Nissan GT-R
What We Think
The XK is the embodiment of everything you think a modern Jaguar should be. Much like the Porsche 911, it’s a modern interpretation of a timeless classic – sleek, sophisticated and thoroughly enjoyable, yet at times slightly quirky in its own way. If you’re looking for a luxurious coupe that gets you noticed, this one will do so in all the right ways.