Since the iconic XKE went to cat heaven some four decades ago, its spirit lives on in a newer breed of sleek Jaguar coupes and convertibles. The latest Jaguar XK maintains classic design cues like the oval grille, but adds a modern all-aluminum body and high-tech features designed to better appeal to today's premium brand car buyers.
Provided you are looking at the 2010 and later versions, the Jaguar XK boasts substantial performance capabilities that don't come at the cost of luxury or charm. Although it's certainly not perfect, Jag's much-improved XK deserves serious consideration.
Current Jaguar XK-Series
The Jaguar XK, XKR and XKR-S are all available in two-door coupe and convertible body styles. The standard XK comes with a 5.0-liter V8 good for 385 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. The XKR offers a supercharged version of that engine with 510 hp and 461 lb-ft. In the supercharged XKR-S, output is pumped up to 550 hp and 502 lb-ft. All come with a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters for manual shift control. As 2014 will be the last year for the XK, Jaguar will produce 50 units of the XK Final Fifty Limited Edition: 25 coupes and 25 convertibles.
Standard features of the base XK include 20-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, bi-xenon headlights, keyless ignition and entry, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a navigation system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a Bowers & Wilkins sound system with an iPod/USB audio interface. The XKR adds retuned suspension and steering, larger front brakes, different wheels, an aluminum mesh grille and different interior trim. In addition to its more powerful engine, the XKR-S sports unique wheels, firmer suspension tuning, more aggressive styling, front sport seats and its own interior trim. Based on the XKR, the Final Fifty Limited Edition features unique wheels, black paint, a body kit, a sport-tuned exhaust, a more aggressively tuned suspension and upgraded upholstery.
After you press the pulsating start button, a rotary shift knob rises out of the center console, adding a bit of charm to starting off. Any XK will provide awesome straight-line thrust, with the supercharged versions being ridiculously quick. And all XKs exhibit impressive composure in high-speed corners thanks to lightweight aluminum architecture and an automatically adjustable suspension that prioritizes ride comfort or handling depending on the situation. With its suspension biased toward a plush ride, the base XK isn't as responsive on a twisty road as, say, a Porsche 911, but is more comfortable on straight ones. The XKR-S is another animal entirely: a taut, dedicated driver's machine that boasts a lot more than robust power. Sitting between these two extremes, the XKR is likely the best choice for most luxury performance coupe and convertible buyers, as it provides an impressive balance of sports car athleticism and touring car comfort.
Used Jaguar XK Models
The current-generation XK dates back to 2007. The most significant changes since then involve what's under the hood. For 2007-'09, the standard XK came with a 4.2-liter V8 churning out 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, while the XKR's supercharged version of the same engine pumped out 420 hp and 418 lb-ft of torque. Also for that period, the six-speed automatic transmission was attached to Jag's quirky and mostly lamentable "J-gate" shifter.
In road tests and reviews of these earlier 4.2-liter V8-based cars, we found the standard XK a little disappointing; the coupe's 0-60-mph time of 6.4 seconds is about a second slower than some competitors' times. The XKR model was naturally much quicker, going from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. Just as with the current car, these XKs provide entertaining back-roads handling or serene road trip comfort on long interstate journeys.
Apart from minor trim level and features shuffling, post-2009 XKs are very similar to the current offerings. For 2010, a major boost in power arrived as, in addition to minor styling tweaks, the XK and XKR received the more powerful 5.0-liter V8 engines. The rotary-style gear selector debuted that year as well. The following year brought the XKR175 coupe to celebrate Jaguar's 75th anniversary. This limited-edition (yes, 175 of them) XKR included special black paint, unique exterior/interior trim and an increased top speed.
The road-ripping XKR-S debuted for 2012, as did updated front and rear styling, upgraded interior materials and a standard-for-all-trims rearview camera. The following year brought a lower-priced Touring trim and the Portfolio Pack, which featured fancier interior trim and access to unique color combinations. The big news for 2014 was the appearance of the track-ready XKR-S GT coupe; only 25 were produced for the United States.
For more information on older, first-generation XKs, please see our review of the XK-Series.