What's New for 2011
There are few changes to the 2011 Jaguar XK coupe and convertible. To celebrate 75 years of the Jaguar name, the XKR175 75th-anniversary coupe is available in a limited edition (yes, 175 of them). Highlights include special black paint, aerodynamic enhancements, unique interior trim and a higher top speed than the standard XKR. Other additions for the line of 2011 XK models this year include a heated windshield, revised interior trim, adaptive cruise control and, for the XKR, the red brake calipers that come standard on the XKR175.
The current-generation Jaguar XK heads into its fifth year of production with little substantial change save for the introduction of the limited-edition XKR175 Coupe. There's nothing to worry about, though, as the improvements made to last year's XK really sharpened up this car's performance, and the entire lineup continues to be an attractive choice among luxury sports cars.
The direct-injection 5.0-liter V8 introduced last year is powerful yet smooth. Rated at 385 horsepower, it boasts 40 hp more than the Porsche 911 Carrera and a better power-to-weight ratio than the Mercedes-Benz SL550. Beyond the raw numbers, the V8's broad torque range allows the XK to be useful as either a long-distance cruiser or a back-road burner. It's a similar story for the supercharged Jaguar XKR, which boasts 510 hp, some 10 hp more than the mighty Porsche 911 Turbo. Though the Mercedes SL63 AMG has 8 hp more, the XKR scales in about 300 pounds less (and costs $44,000 less, too).
Certainly the XK isn't wanting for power, and Jaguar backs it up with exceptional road manners. Jaguar Drive Control gives the driver a choice of three modes to alter such performance attributes as throttle response, shift speed and suspension settings. The adjustable suspension and adaptive dampers allow the XK to prowl quietly or cut corners like a cat on a shag rug, and the XKR displays even more control with the addition of an electronically controlled, limited-slip rear differential.
In general we're quite fond of the 2011 Jaguar XK and find it fully competitive (and a strong value) against already impressive players like the aforementioned Mercedes SL-Class and Porsche 911 as well as the Maserati GranTurismo. The XK isn't flawless -- its rear seats aren't particularly useful, and the electronics interface can be fussy to use -- but its generous content, muscular performance and the panache that comes with an illustrious history certainly helps it stand out in a very illustrious crowd.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Jaguar XK is available in coupe and convertible body styles, with each offered in XK and XKR trim levels. The new XKR175 is available only as a coupe. Standard equipment on the base car includes 19-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, front and rear parking sensors, keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, heated power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats and automatic dual-zone climate control. Also standard are a touchscreen control interface, Bluetooth, a navigation system and a Bowers & Wilkins premium surround-sound system with in-dash six-CD changer, satellite radio and USB audio interface. The convertible features a power-retractable soft top and power rear windows.
Options include interior piano black wood veneer, HD radio, a heated windshield, active headlights and adaptive cruise control (which is packaged with active headlights for XK models). Except for the heated windshield, these items are standard on the XKR, as are a supercharged engine, active differential control, different 19-inch wheels, bigger brakes and unique interior trim and body colors. Optional on the XKR are 20-inch wheels, red brake calipers (coupe only) and different interior veneers and body colors.
The XKR175, available only in black, adds unique 20-inch wheels, front and rear spoilers, side sills, a rear diffuser, red brake calipers, limited-edition door sill plates and special interior trim. There are no options, and the heated windshield and active cruise control are not available.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Jaguar XK is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 385 hp and 380 pound-feet of torque. The Jaguar XKR features a supercharged version of the same engine that pumps out 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. In performance testing, an XKR convertible went from zero to 60 mph in a blistering 4.5 seconds -- the lighter coupe would be even quicker. Both are therefore quicker than the much more expensive Mercedes SL63 AMG. EPA fuel economy estimates for the base coupe are 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. The XKR drops to 15/22/17 mpg.
Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes with brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, stability and traction control, and front-seat side airbags. The convertible has pop-up rollover hoops.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2011 Jaguar XK's cockpit is a well-tailored, contemporary environment with all the bells and whistles. Yet it also radiates an inviting atmosphere of upper-class comfort. There are some ergonomic glitches, however. The multipurpose touchscreen that operates audio, climate, navigation and phone systems is nice in theory, but in practice we've found it slow to respond and fussy to use. Another downside is getting in and out of the tiny backseats. They can certainly accommodate small children if properly bribed with a stop for ice cream, but most adults will gripe about the accommodations.
Jaguar's unique rotary shifter and start-up sequence also might be considered a glitch by traditionalists, but it really is an impressive bit of kit. When the car is unlocked, the console-mounted start/stop button pulses red and, once pressed, fires the engine to life while the round shifter rises into the driver's hand. The operation is also a reminder that the XK is a thoroughly modern automobile underneath its svelte skin.
As in any Jaguar, comfort is a priority. The front seats adjust 12 ways and include heating and cooling. XKR models also get an embossed "R" on the front of the front seat headrests. The power tilt-and-telescoping wheel is also heated, which is welcome on frosty mornings or, in the convertible, during those romantic drives under the stars.
The power soft top takes a scant 18 seconds to lower and is well insulated for a quiet ride when deployed. The XK coupe's trunk can hold about 11 cubic feet of cargo -- much larger than the trunks in the SL or 911 and just slightly smaller than the M6's cargo hold. With the top down, the XK convertible can still hold a respectable 8 cubic feet.
It's no surprise the 2011 Jaguar XK is an impressive straight-line cruiser. However, the advantages of its lightweight aluminum construction and adjustable suspension become most evident when the roads get twisty and the XK carves precise lines through the corners. The XK might not be as responsive as a Porsche 911, but it's much more nimble than the Mercedes SL.
Last year's infusion of enhanced V8 power created an entire new definition of Jaguar performance. Even the base XK is impressively potent, with near-instant response and a wide, muscular power band. The supercharged XKR, meanwhile, is a monster, and it can post acceleration numbers equaling some of the world's best sports cars.