We’ve seen Jaguar’s modern day interpretation of the classic E-type sports car before, and although it looked a lot like the latest member of the Top Speed test fleet, she was a feline of a completely different nature. That is because our Liquid Silver Jaguar XK convertible is powered by the now Indian automaker’s all new 5.0 Liter V8 that makes a total of 385 HP and 380 lb-ft of torque propelling the drop top sports coupe from 0 to 60 MPH in only 5.2 seconds while returning as much as 22 MPG on the highway.
Whereas last year’s model felt a bit tame; the new XK, even in naturally aspirated form, is packing enough power under the hood to satisfy more than a few desperate housewives. Much of the 2010 XK’s exterior remains the same, the only update for the new year are a pair of thin slits that serve as air intakes on either side of the front bumper as opposed to the previous model’s round fog lights while the new car’s lower air dam has been squared off with a few 90 degree angles. Starting up front the Jaguar’s familiar fish eye headlights frame the E-Type inspired retro round opening in the front bumper and the XK’s blistered wheel arches house a set of multi spoke Caravela alloys measuring 19 inches in diameter. While out back our feline retains its familiar round rear end.
On the inside the Jaguar XK is finished like a fine English sports car. Pieced together with high quality materials ranging from Burl Walnut veneer to the polished aluminum cup holders and seat controls, suede on the A pillar and soft Ivory/Oyster leather that covers the seats, dash and door panels. Every item that you can touch takes the XK one step beyond what you would expect from ordinary automobiles. One fun touch for driving enthusiasts is that the perforated leather wrapped front seats have multiple power adjustments, allowing the driver to inflate a pair of adjustable hip bolsters that inflate to keep them in place during spirited driving. On the other hand our XK came with the same complicated touch screen navigation system that controls everything from climate control to the satellite radio. At an even $89,000 our 2010 XK is a perfect example of just how luxurious a base model Jaguar can be.
Continued after the jump.
From the front our Liquid Silver 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 framing the Jaguar emblem in the center, and although our car didn’t come with the classic’s horizontal bar, Jaguar does offer it as an option.
The body also features a muscular arch molded into the rear quarter panel that framed the 19 inch split 10 spoke Caravela wheels on our XK beautifully. From nose to tail every detail of the vehicle shouts attitude and style. The black top accents the metallic finish quite nicely, that is however as long as you deprive yourself of the full drop top experience and ride around with it up. 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 the Jag and the other 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 and aluminum a/c vents, to the soft Ivory/Oyster colored leather covered items like the plush center armrest and the polished bezels surrounding the hidden cup holders, every touch went one step beyond what we have come to expect from ordinary automobiles. The combination of contrasting dark leather on the dash and center console with light colored accents is beautiful, and even the plastic switches look like they are made from finer, more expensive high quality materials.
The steering wheel is a perfect example, combining a soft leather wrapped rim with painted plastic covers at 3 and 9 o’clock as well as a rubberized center section airbag cover; creating a unit that is not only pleasing to the eye, but also very rewarding to take hold of. The front seats are wrapped in perforated Ivory 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. Another upscale touch for the XK is the door panels, while the top halves are covered in leather to match the seats, Jaguar didn’t cut any corners by going with plastic or vinyl for the lower half that will most likely never notice, but instead went with much more elegant carpeting, just like the suede wrapped windshield frame.
Jaguar faithful will be familiar with the touch screen navigation unit that controls everything from turn by turn directions to climate control, as well as the Bowers and Wilkins stereo system that cranks out 525 Watts of power, playing tunes from everything from the AM/FM/satellite radio to an MP3 player. The system can be a little slow and difficult to operate at first, but once you get a handle on where all the important spots on the screen are, getting around the operating system will become second nature.
From the time you grab a hold of the XK’s door handle with the smart key stored away safely in your pocket to when you press down on the ignition waking up the all new 5.0 Liter motor and the JaguarDrive Selector, originally used in the XF, rises up from the center console, you know that you are in for a treat. The biggest change for the 2010 model year is the new V8 that produces 385 HP and 380 lb-ft of torque, and unlike last year’s model, the new engine is more than adequate to move the 3700 pound feline around Jaguar while the sounds emanating from the exhaust reassure you that there truly is no replacement for displacement. While new XK-R and XF-R models produce over 500 HP, we can easily say that the new naturally aspirated V8 is even better than the old blown mills and still get an estimated 16 MPG in the city and 22 MPG on the highway.
The Jaguar XK was built following Jaguar’s Advanced Lightweight Coupe (ALC) design. Aluminum being the material of choice due to its lightweight nature, making up the monocoque from which the entire car starts 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, and because of this, the Jaguar XK handles superbly due to loads of structural rigidity and solid cornering ability. However the ride is never harsh, even with the 19 inch wheels wrapped with low profile tires, thanks to Jaguar’s 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.
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 press the pedal to the metal. With the automatic speed limiter set, the Jag accelerates like normal to the predetermined speed and then holds it there, for the most fun you will ever have driving flat out at 40 MPH.
Why to Buy
The Jaguar XK is the perfect car to enjoy a relaxed comfortable drive while appreciating the sights and smells along the way, and thanks to the new engine, it truly is a more ferocious feline. 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 under $100,000 the Jaguar is a much better deal.
Why Not to Buy
If you are after a vehicle that performs even better than it looks, or enjoy the thrill of having too much power, the XK may come up a little bit short. However; the XKR, with an extra 125 supercharged horses should be enough to push the ALC chassis closer to its limits and make the rubber donuts scream for mercy, if that’s the sort of thing that you are after.
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, is down 40 HP horsepower than the XK’s new naturally aspirated power plant at $1,000 less expensive, however it gets to 60 MPH 0.3 seconds quicker, but then again there are also the S and turbocharged models if pure power is what you are after. 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.
Topspeed final verdict
The Jaguar XK convertible is a great car made even better by a bit more old fashioned muscle. The new engine wakes up the chassis in a way that the old XK-R only could, it is a beautifully styled convertible that is as much fun to drive as it is to be seen in thanks to its capabilities as a high performance convertible making the 2010 Jaguar XK experience an elegant blend of sport and luxury.
The XKR’s rip-roaring acceleration, pleasing balance of performance and comfort, luxurious cabin with high feature content, quick convertible top operation, less expensive than many peers...Dinky backseat, frustrating touchscreen controls.-Edmunds
The 2010 XK-Series XK Convertible is not for the budget-minded buyer with a retail price of $88,150.00 but you usually have to pay more for pure excellence.-Automobile