$224,200 – $255,000
Good: Stunning exterior design; clever liftback = lots of usable space in the rear cargo area; ballistic performance of the XKR; brilliant handling, excellent steering feel.
Not so Good: Standard XK rides a touch firm for its intended target market; rear seats aren’t fit for adults; dash design isn’t as impressive as the exterior styling.
Design and Engineering
Good: Arriving in Australia in June of 2006 and facelifted in January 2010, the current generation Jaguar XK is a striking, muscular and beautifully well proportioned Sports GT Coupe. Try to forget about what the brand used to represent, as this XK was the first model in the range to begin the difficult, yet very important shift to position the brand as more youthful and sporty (of course we’re talking degrees here as this most definitely isn’t a car targeted to Gen-Y or even Gen-X).
Thankfully the revised facelifted styling has tinkered too much with the original design. The gaping mouth remains, yet the front end looks slightly more sporty, the side mirrors now incorporate side indicators and at the rear, the LED tail lights and a new rear bumper are all gentle improvements.
Impressively, the entire XK’s body and panels are built from aluminum – actually the panel’s are all bonded and riveted together in an extruded process, which enables the big Jag to be both impressively stiff and light. This should contribute to impressive performance and handling.
Not so good : Building the XK out of aluminum and in this way is very expensive, so a good part of the asking price must come down to the high tech build process. Such a sexy design = compromises. In this case, seating for 2 + 2 (translation: room for two adults in the front, but not in the second row).
Interior and Styling
Good: Big improvements in space over the previous generation model, thanks to a wheelbase that has been stretched 16cm over the ’96 to ’05 years XK. Taller drivers are now much more accommodated inside too (impressively so for a vehicle that at its highest sits only 132cm from the tarmac), the 16 way electrically adjustable seats, finished in softgrain leather, are very comfortable and legroom up front is on the money for this segment of vehicle.
We love the JaguarDrive Selector (the rotary gear lever) and how it elegantly rises out of the centre console once the start button has been pressed. It is so much cooler than the traditional J-gate gear selector and reminds us of a bespoke high end audio system. Speaking of quality audio, the standard Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound System pumps out an impressive 525W and sounds great. The headlining looks and feels superb; Jaguar calls it Premium Suedecloth, not sure why they don’t just refer to it as Alcantara though? We’re also big fans of the Twin Needle contrast stitching leather on the dash and doors.
Access to the roomy 330 litre boot is excellent thanks to a super-long all-aluminium rear Liftback door – the first for the brand. The length of the rear window is also a benefit when reverse parking as the C-pillars are mighty thick.
Not so good : Whilst the year 2010 mid life facelift brings along modern items like the JaguarDrive Selector and JaguarDrive Control, the overall cabin design and feel is more year 2005 than 2010. We also think the metal finished interior option suits the interior design over any of the four wooden veneer options (subjective of course). That said, the finish of the veneer is impressively high. The slightly silver plastic looking finish of a number of buttons on the dash is also a negative inside.
The rear seats are not suitable for adults; actually we don’t even think children would find them comfortable over more than a short trip. The boot, whilst large, is a little shallow.
Good : The big, big news with the January 2010 facelift is the all new engines under the XK’s long bonnet. Say goodbye to the old school 4.2-litre V8, in comes the brands new direct injection 5.0-litre V8 engines.
Previously the standard XK pumped out 216kW and 393Nm, now it’s a much healthier 283kW and 515Nm. The pre facelift supercharged XKR produced 276kW and 525Nm, the current one has a huge 375kW of power and 625Nm of torque. Both are fitted with a clever and fast shifting six speed ZF automatic transmission and both grades are speed limited to 250km/h. Both engines also sound FANTASTIC, right from startup, where they roar into life than settle down to a hairy chested burble at idle.
Whilst the XK is definitely the slower of the too, the XKR can feel like its approaching supercar like acceleration at times, as a more relaxed sports cruiser the XK should not be discounted. It’s always quick to respond to life from the smallest push of the accelerator, thanks to healthy levels of torque from low revs. Smash the accelerator into the thick carpet and acceleration from 0-100km/h will come past in a still rapid 5.5 secs and the sound as the revs rise is well worth the cost of fuel (which will be well, well north of the official 11.2 litres per 100kms).
Not so good : Fuel economy improvements don’t appear as impressive as the rise in power with the shift from the 4.2-litre V8 to the newer 5.0L. However considering the rise in power and torque maybe official fuel economy figures similar to the pre facelift XK is a worthwhile achievement in itself?
Ride and Handling
Good: The XK is off to a great start thanks to an extra stiff yet relatively light body. This car is the polar opposite of a sloppy, jelly like, ponderous boulevard cruiser. It only takes a couple of minutes behind the wheel to realise that the big Jaguar is definitely on the sporty side of the relaxed and cruisy GT or lithe and sports car- like bona-fide coupe scale. Thankfully the XK’s ride is still compliant enough (but only just) to play the role of daily driver should the need be to negotiate peak hour traffic. However, to only experience the XK is this environment would be doing a gross injustice to the truly talented engineers and test drivers at Jaguar.
Head out to your favourite back road and the XK comes alive, with both the steering and braking staying impressive, even as the speeds significantly increase. The steering offers an excellent amount of communication between your hands and the road underneath. On the suspension front, the big Jag also gets the big thumbs up. The self-adjusting adaptive dampers might feel firm, yet this small price to pay equals top notch handling. Bumps or broken up road surfaces will rarely unsettle the XK’s brilliant composure. When pushing on, the driver can select Dynamic mode to stiffen up the dampers for even flatter and more fun handling.
Not so good : Over less than smooth surfaces, i.e. too many of Australia’s roads, even the standard XK rides on the firm side for what is a car designed to travel big miles easily. We’re praising the handling but of course the XK has its limits. It’s a bigger and heavier car than say a Porsche 911, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the German sports car is still the more fun car to drive over a twisty mountain pass. However, the gap is much smaller than most would imagine.
Buying and Owning
Good : Achingly good looks; holds its value better than a similar priced 5 metre long sedan (but so will almost any other kind of vehicle). The standard heated steering wheel is a pleasant surprise on a winter’s morning and the adaptive cruise control works well.
Not so good : Whilst we think the XK range is a significantly better buy since the January 2010 facelift, the asking price has shifted a notch upwards. The XK and XKR grades both increased by almost $15,000. Whilst we’re mentioning price, we think the XKR is the better value of the two grades, considering the huge hike in power thanks to the XKR’s supercharger, the approximately $30,000 higher asking price feels well and truly worth it.