Jaguar XK Coupe

Price range

$224,200 – $255,000

Overall

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.

Performance

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.

Jaguar XJ Sedan

Price range

$198,800 – $367,800

Overall

Good: With head turning styling, advanced lightweight underpinnings, stunning interior, excellent choice of engines, frugal yet powerful turbo diesel and brilliant driver dynamics, this may spell a return to class honours for Jaguar.

Not so Good: The polarizing exterior rear design, poor clarity of driver’s digital display and fairly firm ride may count against the Jag.

Design and Engineering

Good: Arriving in Australia in July 2010 the current generation Jaguar XJ represents a big shift for the premium English brand’s flagship sedan. Gone is the previous generation’s unmistakable retro styling, replaced by a truly beautiful, modern, sporty yet still an oh-so elegant design that turns heads like almost no other car.

Our favourite angles are from front three quarters and from side on, the latter showing the stunning sweeping ‘coupe-like’ roofline and the muscular high waistline to full effect. Underneath the gorgeous body panels the XJ continues on with the previous generation model’s industry leading use of modern materials, the extensive use of aluminium and also magnesium, as well as the usual high strength steel, combines to ensure the big XJ is significantly lighter than the competition.

Not so good : The rear pillars on either side of the sloping rear window are finished in a high gloss black, and this touch of design difference has caused much talk amongst the world’s motoring press. Our test team thinks it works well. The rear end styling and especially the tail light design takes some getting used to; however it only takes one look at the rear lights at night to understand the reason behind this change in the big Jag’s styling.

Interior and Styling

Good: This car has an amazing interior that feels more like a half a million dollar Bentley or Rolls Royce than a similar priced S-Class or 7-Series. It’s elegant, stylish, and super special and still manages to retain the uber-luxury feel of traditional British coach building but certainly doesn’t feel old hat. The driving position is excellent, sitting nice and low and the relatively small diameter steering wheel is a joy to hold. The big design talking point inside is the low set dash with a two-inch high panel of burled wood veneer (or in another materials should you desire) that sweeps across the bottom of the windscreen and continues into the front door panels.

The circular design of the air vents is achingly cool, the interior is covered in soft leathers, and the instrument gauge is a high definition 12.3 inch digital display, with graphics in the style of traditional analogue dials. In normal mode the instrumentation is coloured red, select the sports mode and it changes to blue. Fortunately legroom front and rear is an improvement over the previous model and boot space is a big 520 litres.

Not so good : The clarity of the digital driver’s console display unit isn’t up to that in the competing Lexus LS or Mercedes Benz S-Class; the high waistline styling ensures that children in the rear may struggle to get a good view out of the side windows and taller folk might bemoan the rearwards sloping roofline. Not surprisingly, considering the coupe like styling, rear visibility is below average for the class it competes in.

Performance

Good: There are four different levels of power and torque to choose from across the wide range of XJ’s on offer. The sole diesel is a 3.0L twin turbo V6 offering a healthy 202kW of power and an even more impressive 600Nm of torque; the ‘standard’ 5.0L V8 petrol generates 283kW and 515Nm, in supercharged format and in Portfolio trim the power jumps to 345kW and 575Nm and the range topping supercharged Supersports produces a huge 375kW and 625Nm of torque.

We’ve tested the turbo diesel for an extended period of time and found it to be most impressive. It offers an excellent, strong-pulling engine, high speeds without excessive revving, noteworthy low-down power, and a more exciting engine note than is expected of a diesel. The six-speed ZF automatic gearbox though silky smooth, is at times capable of changing gears too quickly, but this is a surprisingly fast, smooth car that produces almost effortless oomph.

Not so good : The cheapest petrol V8 grade is over $50,000 more than the excellent twin turbo diesel yet it is well down on torque so for most drivers the diesel must surely be the smarter buy.

Ride and Handling

Good: The handling is class leading. The car feels agile and responsive with great body control and high levels of dynamic ability. It remains flat through the corners. The ride is firmer than the competing S- class but not uncomfortable, and certainly not harsh. It is especially comfortable in normal mode which is a stage of the drive control as opposed to dynamic mode, where the steering and ride become more firm, making the jag a real drivers’ car. The steering is fantastic, natural and direct with a lovely amount of weighting.

Not so good :The ride is firmer than most competitors, especially an S-Class or LS, and this becomes more noticeable at low speeds. It is much more of a driver’s car than a chauffeured limousine- but we’re not complaining one bit.

Buying and Owning

Good : The big Jag combines the best of the traditional big luxury sedan (i.e. 7-Series / S-Class) and the new brigade (i.e. Quattroporte / Panamera) to produce something that feels special and different. There is a wide range of choice offered in either standard or long wheelbase (which provides an additional 12cm of rear seat legroom and longer rear doors) and three grades of trim (Premium Luxury, Portfolio and Supersports). It looks like great value when compared against the traditional German competition (S-Class & 7-Series), and is significantly cheaper than an S-Class, especially in petrol V8 mode.

Entry level grade comes standard with soft leather interior, beautiful wood panels, and quality sound system. This is a good quality car with good fuel economy, 3.0L turbo diesel’s official combined fuel economy is an amazingly low 7.0 litres per 100kms, a truly excellent figure for such a big, swift and luxurious vehicle. To top it all off, the optional Bowers and Wilkins audio system produces 1200w!

Not so good : By the time the top of the range Supersports is on the road you’d be looking at around $400,000. Gulp, that’s big bucks.

Jaguar XF Sedan

Price range

$78,900 – $210,900

Overall

Good: Sleek coupe-like styling; Diesel economy; Performance; Touch screen multimedia display.

Not so Good: Interior fit & finish; In-cabin vibration at low speeds (diesel).

Design and Engineering

Good : In June 2008 the Jaguar XF arrived in Australia, by September 2009 three new engines joined the line-up and in October 2011 the range received a mid-life facelift and a new 2.2-litre diesel engine.

We think the Jaguar XF is a great looking car that demands attention anywhere you go. It’s a sports car that delivers styling and performance in a refined and luxury saloon. The 2011 mid-life facelift gave the XF range a refreshed exterior. New features include a range of new alloy wheels and paint colours, Bi-function HID xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, a redesigned bonnet and new chrome side vents.

Not so good : From the outside it’s really hard to find an angle that doesn’t flatter the Jaguar XF. However, some exterior colours don’t do the sleek and curvaceous lines of the car any justice – we say stick to Ultimate Black or Polaris White.

Interior and Styling

Good : Stepping inside the XF you are greeted with an abundance of leather and soft touch plastics that are pleasing to touch. Jaguar makes good use of light tones to give the cabin a fresh and light atmosphere.

The seven inch colour TFT multimedia touchscreen is awesome (standard on base model), it is very quick and responsive for a touchscreen unit. The colour screen allows occupants to control the satellite navigation, radio, the 30GB hard drive equipped with a virtual CD stacker that can store your own music and climate control settings.

One of the standout features found in the XF’s interior is the compact packaging of the JaguarDrive Selector transmission knob. The beautifully crafted cast alloy Selector rises out of the centre console once the start/stop button has been pressed, to select a gear you simply rotate the knob to the desired gear and away you go – it’s a very nice touch of luxury.

Not so good : The Jaguar XF’s interior was up for debate in the Car Verdict office some of us loved it others not so much. The wood grain effect inserts cheapen the interior and didn’t really match the modern feel of the cabin. Overall fit & finish of the interior plastics could also be improved.

Performance

Good : The Jaguar XF is available with three diesel engines and three petrol engines giving customers the choice of six engines in total.

The entry model comes with a 2.2-litre diesel engine that is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and Intelligent Stop/Start technology. The 2.2-litre diesel produces 140kW of power and 420Nm of torque (450Nm with overboost function). The 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine is mated to six-speed Sports automatic making 175kW of power and 293Nm of torque.

Two versions of the 3.0-litre V6 Diesel engine are available – a 177kW and the high-performance 202kW. Meanwhile torque figures are 500Nm and 600Nm respectively. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that features a parallel sequential turbo-boosting system that provides immediate response from the engine.

At the sportier end of the scale is the 5.0-litre V8 petrol that produces 283kW of power and 515Nm of torque.

Last but not least and sitting at the top of the range is the direct-injection 5.0-litre V8 supercharged engine, exclusive to the XFR, features 375kW of power and 625Nm of torque.

The 2.2-litre diesel mated to the eight-speed automatic is a great combination; it offers sporty performance while also being frugal. The eight-speed automatic is a smooth unit and the stop/start technology is much more refined than most found in other cars today.

The 5.0-litre V8 supercharged engine found in the XFR is totally bonkers! There is so much power and torque on offer it wouldn’t take long for you to lose your license (0-100kms/h in 4.9 secs). The menacing exhaust note is also very, very addictive.

The Jaguar XF also has a very clever auto off function that places the car into Park if the car is stopped and the driver’s seatbelt is released and/or driver’s door is opened.

Not so good : The downside to 2.2-litre was the excessive vibration at low speed; it was like getting a mini massage while look for a place to park the car at the shops. However this is a small criticism and certainly not a deal breaker.

The awesome sound and performance that the 5.0-litre V8 supercharged engine delivers is outstanding. However, when you start to drive hard fuel consumption isn’t the best, but I guess this car isn’t designed to be frugal nor is it pretending to be.

Ride and Handling

Good:  The Jaguar XF has quite a well-balanced ride; the suspension smooths out any pot holes and bumps in the road. The suspension is also firm enough to take into the hills for some spirited driving. There is also a host of driving aids that keep the XF on the right path, you can sense them working seamlessly away in the background but they never really get in the way of you have fun.

Not so good: Whilst the handling is impressive, the Jaguar XF is quite a large car and can be a little tricky to manoeuvre in a tight space. City driving is ok, but, because of the sleek rear, it’s hard to check your blind spots.

Buying and Owning

Good : With a starting price of $78,990 we found the 2.2-litre diesel a bargain, when you consider the impressive list of standard equipment; some of which its German competitors’ would charge handsomely for.

The 2.2-litre diesel is also quite fuel efficient while still offering enough performance to bring a smile to your face

Not so good : Perhaps the only downside of owning a Jaguar XF is that you’ll attract attention everywhere you go.