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More than three decades since the iconic XKE went to cat heaven, its spirit lives on in a new breed of sleek Jaguar coupes and convertibles. The latest Jaguar XK maintains classic design cues like the oval grille, but adds a modern all-aluminum body and high-tech features designed to better appeal to today's luxury car buyers.
Thanks to recent upgrades, the Jaguar XK boasts substantial performance capabilities that don't come at the cost of luxury or charm. Although it's certainly not perfect, Jag's much-improved XK deserves serious consideration.
Current Jaguar XK-Series
The current Jaguar XK, XKR and XKR-S are all available in two-door coupe and convertible body styles. The standard XK comes with a 5.0-liter V8 good for 385 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. The XKR offers a supercharged version of that engine cranking out 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque. In the supercharged XKR-S, output is pumped up to 550 hp and 502 lb-ft. All engines are paired with a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters for manual shift control. Controlling the transmission is one of the XK's more distinctive features -- a rotary shift knob rises out of the center console after you press the pulsating start button. It's a bit gimmicky, but easy to use.
Every XK comes with a full leather interior, heated and ventilated seats, a heated and power-operated steering wheel and a Bowers & Wilkins sound system. The XKR adds sportier interior trim, different 19-inch wheels, a firmer suspension, retuned steering, larger front brakes and an aluminum mesh grille. The XK's standard stability control is reprogrammed for the XKR, allowing the driver more leeway and the option to shut it off completely. In addition to its more powerful engine, the XKR-S adds 20-inch wheels, revised suspension tuning, more aggressive-looking styling, sport front seats and unique interior trim.
Any XK will provide awesome straight-line thrust; the supercharged versions are just ridiculously quick. And all XKs exhibit impressive composure in high-speed corners thanks to lightweight aluminum architecture and an automatically adjustable suspension that prioritizes ride comfort or handling depending on the situation. With its suspension biased toward a plush ride, the base XK isn't as responsive on a twisty road as, say, a Porsche 911. The XKR-S is another animal entirely -- a taut, dedicated driver's machine that boasts a lot more than robust power. Sitting between these two extremes, the XKR is likely the best choice for most luxury coupe and convertible buyers, as it provides an impressive balance of sports car athleticism and touring car comfort.
Used Jaguar XK Models
The current-generation XK dates back to 2007. The most significant changes since then involve what's under the hood. For 2007-'09, the standard XK came with a 4.2-liter V8 churning out 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, while the XKR's supercharged version of the same engine pumped out 420 hp and 418 lb-ft of torque. Also for that period, the six-speed automatic transmission was attached to Jag's quirky and mostly lamentable "J-gate" shifter.
For 2010, a major boost in power arrived as, in addition to minor styling tweaks, the XK and XKR received the more powerful 5.0-liter V8 engines used currently. The rotary-style gear selector debuted that year as well. The following year brought the XKR175 coupe to celebrate Jaguar's 75th anniversary. This limited-edition (yes, 175 of them) XKR included special black paint, unique exterior/interior trim and an increased top speed. Apart from lacking the new-for-2012 XKR-S model and some minor styling updates, these XKs are similar to today's lineup.
In road tests and reviews of the 4.2-liter V8-based cars, we found the standard XK a little disappointing; the coupe's 0-60-mph time of 6.4 seconds is about a second slower than some competitors' times. The XKR model was naturally much quicker, going from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. With the 5.0-liter V8s, the base XK's 0-60 time drops to 5.2 seconds, while the XKR's improves to 4.5 seconds.
For more information on older, first-generation XKs, please see our review of the XK-Series.
Read the most recent 2013 Jaguar XK review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Jaguar XK page.