Throughout that time Jaguar’s contender was the beautiful XK – the fastest-selling Jaguar sports car ever.
Fast-selling it may have been, but by the end of last year it was approaching its tenth birthday, and newer rivals in the form of the BMW 6-series and Mercedes-Benz SL were making it feel its age. So we shouldn’t be surprised that the all-new XK is a huge leap forward.
It looks much tougher, with the coupe version defining the powerful, muscular-shouldered styling.
The convertible looks softer but both make the outgoing model look ‘pretty’ in comparison.
Both models have already caught the eye of corporate buyers, with around 1,500 orders already placed – more than the total volume the old model managed in 2005. Jaguar sees typical buyers as being men aged 50 or over who want a car as a reward for their success.
The soft-top and coupe share 95% of their components and the chassis has been designed to overcome all the challenges of a convertible. By channelling all the loads through the underbody, Jaguar has created a truly stiff convertible – 50% stiffer than the old car. Stick on a roof and the opposition must be reaching for the Viagra.
Chassis construction makes use of the latest aluminium shaping and joining technologies. Extruded and cast components are bonded and riveted to provide the car with maximum stiffness and a significant weight saving.
The 4.2-litre V8 engine produces 300bhp. Jaguar’s time for the standing quarter-mile is just half a second slower than the supercharged version of the old XK at 14.4 seconds. Try not to think about what a supercharged new XK might be like. Not just yet.
The six-speed automatic gearbox offers, for the first time on a Jaguar, paddle shifts on the steering wheel.
Adaptive damping now adjusts the suspension units independently rather than as front and rear pairs. This controls roll as well as pitch and takes into account factors like brake load and steering position. The stability control detects separate phases of slowing, braking, cornering and acceleration as it deals with wheel spin.
Jaguar claims best-in-class safety. The most innovative feature, perhaps, is the ‘deployable bonnet’. If a pedestrian collides with a new XK the bonnet is popped up slightly to minimise the risk of head injury.
Enough of the tricks and technology, you cry. How much is it? Coupe starts at £58,955, sir. Convertible, madam, a touch more at £64,955.
Behind the wheel
‘NO wood!’ It’s normally a sorry observation, but in the new Jaguar XK it’s a relief. Jaguar is letting go of the heritage crutch and the latest step in its recovery programme is an exciting wood-free interior option. More than a third of advance orders opted for the aluminium finish interior – and it looks fantastic.
There’s still plenty of leather and the cabin styling is sporty and luxurious. Somebody mentioned rear seats, but realistically only coats and briefcases will sit there and keep quiet.
Both seats adjust via control units on the doors and a joystick on the steering column sets the wheel position.
The engine starts with the key still in your pocket thanks to keyless ignition and rumbles away in the background as you prepare the navigation, entertainment and Bluetooth phone systems. All this comes as standard on the base XK, as does the rear parking sensor.
But leave that nice stereo off for a while. The engine sounds fabulous and to make sure we all appreciate it, the most satisfying harmonics of the V8’s acoustic signature are actually channelled back into the cabin via sound ducting.
The throttle pedal is very sensitive, especially at the top of its travel – if you’re too quick on the gas the car lurches forward. Hard acceleration doesn’t produce the monstrous surge of power that we came to associate with the supercharged XK, but it still flies.
The gearbox shifts are smooth and fast, whether you choose fully or semi-automatic changes (the latter available through the paddleshifts on the steering wheel).
Driving around the Cotswolds at speeds approaching the legal limit allowed the suspension to show how well it combines firmness for decent handling with comfort for a supple ride. The XK is brilliant at going round corners, but then if you lost 200lb, you’d feel pretty light on your feet too, wouldn’t you?
THE new XK is more grand tourer than pure sports car. It offers more room than the old car but the rear seats are still a joke. The new XK is fast and agile. It looks, sounds and drives like a new sporty Jaguar should. Senior executives wanting to indulge themselves should know about it.
|Model:||XK Coupe||XK Convertible|
|Max power (bhp/rpm):||300/6,000||300/6,000|
|Max torque (lb-ft/rpm):||310/4,100||310/4,100|
|Max speed (mph):||155 (limited)||155 (limited)|
|Combined fuel economy (mpg):||25.0||25.0|
|CO2 emissions (g/km):||269||269|