The vehicle that best sums up the current state of the art at Jaguar is the XK. Whether coupe or convertible, XKR or XKR-S or "base" two-door, the XK's one of the best-looking vehicles on four wheels in production today. And it certainly doesn't hurt that the XK lineup--especially in XKR and XKR-S form--is full of stunning performers.
From about $85,000 to more than $125,000, the XK gives British form to the grand touring concept, with performance and fine finishes comparable to much more expensive cars from Bentley, Maserati and Aston Martin. The GranTurismo, Benz SL and the Aston Vantage are competitors with the XK on speed, with the top XKR-S challenging the likes of the Porsche 911.
The basic XK begins with a 385-horsepower V-8 gained a hot guttural bark when Jaguar bumped its displacement from 4.2 to 5.0 liters in the 2010 model year. Like all the XK cars, it's coupled to a six-speed automatic, which shunts power to the rear wheels. On the XK coupe, Jaguar promises a 0-60 mph time of about 5.0 seconds, a tick or so more for the convertible.
Supercharging the XK turns it into an XKR first. The blown motor rips off 510 horsepower, pushing the 0-60 mph times down to 4.6 seconds for the coupe, again a bit more on the convertible version. Then there's the XKR-S, which opens up the exhaust for another 40 hp, for a total of 550 hp and a 0-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds, Jaguar says--as well as a top speed of 186 mph.
Every XK has the kind of supple grand-touring ride that touches base with Jaguar's old boulevardier reputation. Sport mode is just a touch away thanks to an adjustable suspension and tweakable throttle and transmission responses--but even before they're engage, this XK has balefuls of grip and a wonderfully sorted-out suspension that digs into the pavement with up to 20-inch summer tires. The Jaguar's aluminum body structure makes the XK feel lighter on its feet, and though the steering can feel a bit too light, especially on the raging XKR-S, Jaguar's done a brilliant job of embracing both sides of its luxury-GT personality.
Inside the cabin, it's all about the luxury side, though. The front seats are almost shockingly spacious, while the rear seats are laughably small and the trunk teeny, especially on convertible models. Every XK has a touchscreen to control navigation, phone and audio systems, and the screens themselves need more processor horsepower--they lag, and aren't as responsive as the rest of the car. The order sheet offers choices of leather, wood and metallic trim, all with a common tonal sophistication. And convertibles have a power-folding top that doesn't look too bad when raised, and is thickly sealed to ensure quieter road trips in between stints of sunshine.
It's a perfect 10 here at MotorAuthority--and if you want more reasons why, see TheCarConnection's review of the 2012 Jaguar XK.
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