With the latest XK model release, Jaguar faces some stiff competition from other European brands and will have to see off high quality competitors from both Mercedes Benz and BMW if it’s to make a real impression. It’s tuned cousin the XK-R has already won the sports car of the year award but how does the base model fare?
From first glance, the new shape XK is a beautiful machine but it doesn’t really look that “Jaguar” anymore, it seems more like a copycat Aston Martin, which isn’t the worst thing in the world but what about staying original? The curves lengthwise are impressive and the look is good from a 45 degree angle however from the direct front, the Jaguar takes on the appearance of a basking shark with that low centered mouth-like front grill. It’s a matter of personal taste of course but many folk prefer the look of the older models it would seem.
However we all know that the outside styling is only a small part of what makes a car a success or failure and I’m happy to report that the interior has been done in typical smooth Jaguar style. There is plastic, of course, but the a healthy amount of chrome and the expertise of the jaguars ergonomic team has created a real sense of style. The seats hug you nicely but aren’t overbearing like in some of the higher range BMW models for example.
However it’s when you turn the key that the beast comes alive, all of the XK’s come with a 5.0 liter V8 engine in three grades of tuning. The base model coupe produces 385 BHP and 380 Lb of Torque for a 0-60 time of 5.3 Seconds. Certainly no slouch on the tarmac! The two supercharged models give stats from another world, with 510 and 580 BHP respectively. The distinctive throaty Jaguar roar is also still present and as much of a pleasure to digest as ever. The fuel consumption is actually rather good for a 5 liter engine standing at 22 MPG form the XK convertible whilst on the highway and the midrange acceleration is a particular feature of the engine setup. The tank capacity of 16.6 gallons or 72 liters should keep all 1700 Kilo’s of Jag on the road for a while. The handling, as with most European models, is superb and although I’ve never been a fan of the paddle shit style automatic gearboxes the XK’s is almost always spot on in terms of delivering power in smooth concentrated bursts. There is a little understeer on the non supercharged model though, to be honest this only comes into play on the track on tight corners so I doubt this will be of any issue for the road. One could perhaps upgrade the tires, the 2,752mm wheelbase is easily catered for.
The safety record of the Jaguar is good and the model comes not only with impact protection bars but the latest in airbag and security features. GPS tracking is standard and as always with Jaguar the common sense practical aspects have been smoothly rolled into a grand touring package.
Overall, the XK is a perfectly formed piece of engineering and other than a few styling choices on the front grill and the slight propensity for understeer whilst under extreme stress, is the market leader in its class. A good option for the $90,500 starting price of the convertible.