The Jaguar XK is a modern day interpretation of the classic Jaguar E-type . It is also the most expensive of Jaguar model being sold today. Our XK was a drop top 4 seater, propelled by a 300 HP V8, packaged in a lightweight aluminum monocoque that produced an exhilarating driving experience. It is nice to see that the XK has not lost any of the fine touches associated with English craftsmanship, since the company was sold to the Indian automaker, Tata Motors , on June 2 of last year.
From the front our Blue Frost XK looks like a fish with its wide reflective headlight eyes and slightly opened mouth lower grill. However the XK is not a silly looking fish like the nagare inspired Mazda 3; instead it is more like a shark; sleek, agile and powerful. The lower lip on the front bumper of the Jaguar is sharp and aggressive. The grill is styled after the unit from the classic Jaguar E-type , a wide oval shape with the Jaguar emblem in the center. The body also features a muscular arch molded into the rear quarter panel that framed the 20 inch 10 spoke Senta wheels on our XK beautifully. From nose to tail every detail of the vehicle shouts attitude and style. The current XK was designed by Ian Callum, the same man responsible for creating both the Aston Martin DB7 and Vanquish ; explaining the likeness between this Jaguar and the Aston vehicles.
The Jaguar XK is finished like a fine English sports car. The materials used to create our XK convertible were of the utmost quality; from the burl walnut trim, to the soft Ivory colored leather wrapped items like the center armrest and even the polished aluminum cup holders, every touch went one step beyond what we have come to expect from ordinary automobiles. Even the plastic switches look like they are made from finer more expensive materials. The steering wheel is a modern touch that goes a long way in the XK, by placing painted triangular shapes inside of the soft leather wrapped steering wheel the Jaguar designers created an item that is not only pleasing to the eye, but also rewarding to take hold of. Another upscale touch for the XK are the door panels, it is nice when they are not covered in plastic or vinyl, but instead carpeted to match the rest of the interior. The front seats are wrapped in perforated leather and have multiple power adjustments, quite possibly the best fine-tunable feature are the adjustable power bolsters that inflate to keep the driver in place during spirited driving.
The Jaguar XK is powered by a 4.2 liter V8 with a modern 4 valve per cylinder design. The engine is adequate for the 3700 pound Jaguar and the sound emanating from the exhaust when downshifting is superb, but the naturally aspirated power plant seems a little too tame. Smoky burnouts and chirping tires are not part of the XK’s regimen; instead the power is better suited for highway overtaking, but will most likely spend the majority of its life idling down Main Street. The Jaguar XK handles superbly; turning into a sharp corner with a little bit too much enthusiasm shows how the lightweight aluminum construction gives the vehicle lots of structural rigidity and solid handling. However the ride is never harsh, even with the 20 inch wheels and low profile tires, thanks to the Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS) that uses electronically adjustable shock absorbers that continuously adapt to provide the optimum balance between ride comfort and handling performance.
The Jaguar XK was built following the company’s Advanced Lightweight Coupe (ALC) design. Aluminum was the material of choice due to its light weight, and then fashioned into a monocoque from which the entire car could begin to take shape. The designers at Jaguar did not want to construct a convertible that oddly looked like a coupe with the roof removed, so the XK was originally engineered to be a rag top, avoiding the excessive amount of additional bracing and strengthening usually required when converting a hardtop into a drop head coupe.
Inspired by Gatsos and other camera traps found along English motorways the XK features a unique, more fun form of cruise control. Opposite the ignition is a round button with ASL written on it; push the button, set the speed and then floor it. With the automatic speed limiter set, the Jag accelerates like normal to the preset limit and then holds it, leading to up the most fun you can have driving flat out at 40 MPH.
Due to European safety regulations, Jaguar was forced to develop the Pedestrian Deployed Bonnet System. In the event of a collision, the PDBS ensures that pedestrians will not hit their heads on the solid chunk of metal that is sitting right underneath the hood of the XK. Sensors in the front of the vehicle determine if a person is hit which then detonate two pyrotechnic charges at the back of the hood. Within the blink of an eye the large plane of metal is temporarily supported by two small cone shaped airbags that turn the forward opening engine cover into an energy absorbing surface in the event of a collision. Unfortunately for American pedestrians, this feature is only available in Europe.
Jaguar XK owners are looking for a well finished sub $100,000 sports car that is just as capable carving mountain roads as it is cruising down the boulevard with the added benefit of going topless. Porsche’s 911 Cabriolet , the Mercedes Benz SL550 and the BMW 650i convertible all fall into this category mainly due to their mix of luxury and performance. The vehicles also fall into the same price range and are powered by V8s. The only exception is the Porsche, with its 3.6 liter flat six, but it still makes 45 more horsepower than the XK’s naturally aspirated 8 cylinder engine. XK shoppers should also consider the Lexus SC , although it is on the lower end of the spectrum due to the $70,000 asking price.
Why to buy
Who wouldn’t want to drive a fine English sports car, especially a convertible? The Jaguar XK is the perfect car to enjoy a relaxed comfortable drive while appreciating the sights and smells along the way. Unlike competitors, the XK’s ride is soft and smooth, whereas the 911 in particular is a more frantic car to drive; it is possible to loose oneself in the Jaguar experience. It doesn’t hurt the XK that it looks very similar to an Aston Martin, and when compared dollar for dollar, and starting at around $80,000 the Jaguar is a much better deal.
If you are after a vehicle that performs even better than it looks, or enjoy the thrill of having too much power, the XK is not for you. However; the XKR, with an extra 120 supercharged horses should be enough to push the ALC chassis and make the tires beg for mercy in this Jaguar sport coupe.
Topspeed final verdict
The Jaguar XK convertible is a great car. It could use some more power, but for all intents and purposes the XK is a beautifully styled convertible that is as much fun to drive as it is to be seen in. It is also a vehicle that is very capable from a performance standpoint. However owners of the Jaguar sports coupe will most likely never push the vehicle anywhere near it’s limit, so for the typical Jaguar owner, the XK will do just fine.