We have all asked ourselves the “If I won Lotto, I’d buy” question – and it’s difficult to answer because comparisons between various sports cars are complex.
The keys to the latest Porsche 911 or Aston Martin models haven’t come across the Car Showroom desk, but Jaguar is savvy about an Internet presence and they asked us to evaluate the Jaguar XK
We reckon Jaguar and sister company Land Rover are back to their best – the various Range Rover models, Jaguar’s XF and upcoming XJ are all brilliant. So after our week in the XK, our ‘Lotto What If’ garage would probably be a pair of British V8s – the XK and the Range Rover Autobiography.
What You Get
In many ways, the XK was the car that announced Jaguar is back to doing what it does best. Magnificently styled, supremely powerful and brilliant to drive, the XK has actually been upgraded for 2010 with styling enhancements and a new, more powerful AJ-V8 Gen III direct-injection V8 engine.
It’s big (4794mm) but it looks seductive and exudes the panache demanded by premium sports car buyers.
And inside are the craftsmanship, quality and style that are synonymous with Jaguar’s heritage – plus the modern technology that has recently stamped Jaguar’s return to the cutting edge of the automotive industry.
By any measure this is a supercar – one of the world’s very best.
2010 XK scores the latest AJ-V8 Gen III engine, which is more compact (24mm shorter), more efficient and more powerful than the earlier model. It’s a direct-injection 5.0-litre V8 that complies with the Euro V standards for fuel consumption and emissions.
The block is made from high-pressure die-cast aluminium and the cylinder heads are made from secondary (recycled) aluminium alloy (a smart way to reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing). All four camshafts feature torque-actuated variable timing for improved throttle response and fuel efficiency.
Cooling is reverse flow – coolant is pumped through the cylinder heads before flowing to the block and back to the radiator. The thermodynamic improvements deliver greater efficiency.
Maximum power is 283kW at 6500 rpm (26 per cent better than the previous 4.2-litre engine) and peak torque is 515Nm at 3500 rpm (up by 23 per cent). The zero to 100km/h time is reduced from 6.2 seconds to just 5.5 seconds. Fuel consumption is 11.2l/100kms and exhaust emissions are rated at 264g/km.
Jaguar even re-tuned the XK’s exhaust system for a more pleasing note.
Drive is to the rear wheels via a six-speed ZF transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters for manual changes in the sequential manual mode.
“Where’s the gear lever?” one of the Car Showroom team asked when climbing into the XK. The answer is JaguarDrive Selector, a rotary switch which rises when your start the engine – you just turn the dial to select ‘Drive’, ‘Reverse’ or whatever gear you require.
It’s ingenious and compared to a traditional gear lever, JaguarDrive Selector delivers more space for the center console to be used for extra storage etc. It’s the first of many high-tech interior features which show Jaguar is back at the cutting edge.
Just in front is another innovation – the engine start push button (the XK is keyless of course). It’s red and pulses until you fire-up the engine – a precursor to the pulsating V8 engine cranking into life.
Of course there is beautiful craftsmanship and an abundance of leather and real wood veneers – this is a Jaguar after all. 2010 models gain new, bright treadplates for the doors and there is some nice alloy trim around the center console and seven-inch touchscreen for the navigation, climate control and audio (the latter a six-CD Bowers and Wilkins system with iPod and Bluetooth connectivity plus a USB).
We loved the beautiful three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel with brilliant dial controls to alter cruise and audio functions. It adjusts for rake and reach electronically and combines with the superb 16-way adjustment for the heated seats to provide a great driving position.
The seats themselves are nicely sculptured for great support - behind the wheel, the XK actually disguises its dimensions and instantly feels quite small and nimble. This is a 2+2 coupe, so legroom for the two individual rear seats is miniscule.
Instrumentation is the conventional two-dial arrangement with nice chrome finishes. Between them is a colour LCD screen which provides modern graphics and visuals for secondary information like the level in the 71-litre fuel tank.
The cargo area is quite flat and has a ridge in it to accommodate the rear axle – a full-size suitcase laid flat would just about max-out its 330-litre capacity.
Exterior & Styling
Jaguar’s Design Director Ian Callum is one of the automotive industry’s most accomplished creators – his enthusiasm and passion is infectious. When the XK was first revealed, the praise earned for Ian and his team was deserved – this is without doubt one of the most elegant designs of recent times and instantly catapulted Jaguar back to the front page of magazines throughout the world.
The combination of seductive, powerful lines, the long bonnet and glorious curves are contemporary but cleverly hint at previous classic Jaguar sports cars like the E-Type.
For 2010, the XK gained a new front bumper, new LED rear lights and rear body valance, LED side repeater lights and approach lights in the exterior mirrors, a black lower front grille, extra chrome finish for the upper grille and around the boot, a new bonnet and body-colour front fender extractor vents.
With an overall length of 4794mm, a wheelbase of 2752mm and rear track of 1608mm, the XK is long, wide and low. For on-road presence it ranks among the top handful of cars in the world…and looks distinctly Jaguar.
On The Road
Fire-up the V8 and the XK’s exhaust growl sets the tone for a memorable experience – even if you’re just ducking down the road for the milk and papers. That exhaust noise (specially tuned in the 2010 model) is invasive in a nice way and encourages you to mute the audio system.
Around town the Big Cat is handily docile and easy to drive in the weekday commute. The lusty V8 makes light work of freeway acceleration and disguises the XK’s 1660kgs weight.
But out in the open, over our mountain roads test route, the XK stunned with its dynamic performance. Using the paddle shifters to keep the engine revving, we loved how it precisely handled changes of direction while remaining flat and poised.
Mid-corner balance was brilliant and the response accelerating out of turns was outstanding.
With the rear seat realistically out of play except for emergencies, we wonder if Jaguar might be best advised to ditch it.
By any measure the XK is brilliant – one of the world’s best cars.
Priced just north of $200,000, the Jaguar XK is actually very good value – the Mercedes-Benz SL requires more coin just for the entry-level V6.
Aston Martin’s V8 Vantage is also more expensive – it’s a looker for sure.
By any measure a supercar; brilliant looks inside and out; stunning driving dynamics
We had to return it after one week