Used 2012 Jaguar XK Convertible

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2012 Jaguar XK
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2012 Jaguar XK

Pros

  • Strong V8 engines
  • excellent balance of performance and comfort
  • well-crafted cabin
  • loaded features list
  • less expensive than many rivals.

Cons

  • Small backseat
  • cabin can feel claustrophobic
  • finicky touchscreen controls.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2012 Jaguar XK provides the luxury and comfort expected from the legendary marque, as well as high performance and decent value.

vehicle overview

When it comes to luxury sport coupes and convertibles, the 2012 Jaguar XK gets just about everything right. It starts with the exterior. The XK may not be as adventurous as its newer XF and XJ Jaguar siblings, but its sleek silhouette is often compared to the Aston Martin DB9 (never a bad thing). Inside, the XK isn't quite as grand as the newer Jags, but there's no denying the quality of leather, veneers and other materials that make up its cabin. This year the XK has also been updated with Jag's new rotary shift knob and the latest electronics features.

Those are just aesthetics, however. Under the skin are a finely tuned suspension and a rigid aluminum structure that provides excellent handling and a refined ride. All this aluminum also minimizes weight so the 5.0-liter V8 engine can do its best, whether it's the potent 385-horsepower version in the XK or the effortlessly explosive 510-hp version in the XKR. In R form, the XK hits 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds.

For 2012, Jaguar even turns the dial up a few more notches with the range-topping XKR-S coupe and convertible. To create a dedicated, high-performance sport coupe, Jaguar has bumped up the output of the supercharged V8 to 550 hp, retuned the suspension and added a rather aggressive-looking aerodynamic body kit that includes several pieces fashioned out of carbon fiber. It's a different sort of beast to be sure (especially with its firmer ride), but the XKR-S shows Jaguar can hang with the big boys on the track as well as on the boulevard.

It shouldn't be hard to tell that we're quite fond of the 2012 Jaguar XK. Of course, we're also quite fond of the cars it competes with. The iconic Porsche 911 is also a keen choice, though it's typically more expensive than the XK when options are added. Consideration could also be given to the Mercedes SL-Class, although it only accommodates two and commands a considerably higher sum. Closer in price are the fully redesigned BMW 6 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E550 coupe and cabriolet, although the Jag is far more sporting and lithe than either.

Essentially, there's no way to lose with these cars. But if sleek styling, balanced performance and a reasonable price are priorities, the Jag XK is a great choice.

2012 Jaguar XK configurations

The 2012 Jaguar XK is available in three models: XK, XKR and XKR-S. Each can be had in coupe or convertible body styles.

The base XK comes loaded with 19-inch wheels, an adjustable suspension, keyless ignition/entry, automatic bi-xenon headlamps, LED running lamps, rear foglamps, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera and automatic wipers. Interior features include leather upholstery and interior trim, heated and cooled 10-way power front seats (with adjustable bolsters and lumbar support), heated power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, driver and passenger memory functions, and automatic dual-zone climate control. Electronic features include a touchscreen interface, a navigation system, Bluetooth, a Bowers & Wilkins sound system, a six-CD changer, an iPod/USB audio interface and satellite radio. The convertible adds a power-operated roof and tonneau cover. Adaptive headlights and HD radio are options.

The XKR adds a supercharged engine, different 19-inch wheels, upgraded brakes, upgraded exhaust, adaptive headlights and HD radio. The Dynamic Pack adds 20-inch wheels, revised suspension (springs, dampers, lower ride height), a larger rear wing, a lower front aero splitter, rocker sill extension, a rear aero diffuser and red brake calipers. The Black Pack adds different 20-inch wheels, a larger rear spoiler, front aero splitter and black trim in lieu of chrome. Also optional are adaptive cruise control and sport seats.

The XKR-S adds a more powerful supercharged engine, wider 20-inch wheels in a matte grey finish, upgraded exhaust, a more aggressively tuned suspension, a carbon-fiber front aero splitter and rear aero diffuser, a trunk-mounted wing, an extensive aerodynamic body kit, heated-only sport seats (cooled function removed) and unique interior trim. The Bright Pack adds chrome exterior trim and bright polished wheels.

Options on all XK models include a heated windshield and a sport steering wheel wrapped in faux suede.

2012 Highlights

Jaguar's sleek grand tourer gets a new range-topping model, the 2012 Jaguar XKR-S. Elsewhere, styling on the regular XK and XKR has been slightly altered with new front and rear fascias, new headlamps and LED running lights. Inside, the XK receives upgraded interior materials and a rearview camera that's now standard on all models.

Performance & mpg

The 2012 Jaguar XK is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 385 hp and 380 pound-feet of torque. As with every XK, rear-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic are standard. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. The convertible achieves 16/22/18.

The 2012 Jaguar XKR gets a supercharged version of the same engine, bringing output up to 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds performance testing, an XKR convertible went from zero to 60 mph in a very rapid 4.5 seconds (the lighter coupe would be even quicker). EPA-estimated fuel economy is 15/22/17 regardless of body style.

The 2012 Jaguar XKR-S gets a more powerful version of the supercharged 5.0-liter good for 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds testing, the coupe went from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. Fuel economy is identical to that of the XKR.

Safety

Standard safety equipment on the 2012 XK lineup includes traction and stability control, antilock brakes and front side airbags. Side curtain airbags are not offered. The convertible adds pop-up rollover bars. In Edmunds brake testing, the XKR with 19-inch wheels and tires came to a stop from 60 mph in an excellent 111 feet. The XKR-S was about the same.

Driving

It's no surprise the 2012 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 as 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.

The current lineup of V8 engines has 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.

If the XKR is a monster, then we're not sure what that makes the XKR-S -- some sort of British Mothra, perhaps. Even the slightest exuberance with the throttle will set the tires futilely spinning as the traction control system struggles to rein it all in. This is not a car to be taken lightly, yet with equal parts respect and talent from the driver, its increased abilities yield a truly impressive performance machine. The XKR-S's suspension is indeed firmer than the regular XKR's, but compared to other dedicated performance machines like an Audi R8 or Porsche 911, it remains surprisingly comfortable.

Interior

The 2012 Jaguar XK's cockpit is well-tailored and inviting. This year's addition of the rotary shift control (it's also in the XJ and XF) is a nice touch. 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, but most adults will gripe about the accommodations. The cabin can also be a little claustrophobic given its rakish greenhouse and slim windows.

The XK's 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 911 or Mercedes SL-Class and just slightly smaller than the 6 Series or Mercedes E-Class cargo holds. With the top down, the XK convertible can still hold a respectable 8 cubic feet.


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Features & Specs

MPG
16 city / 22 hwy
Seats 4
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
385 hp @ 6500 rpm
MPG
15 city / 22 hwy
Seats 4
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
510 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
15 city / 22 hwy
Seats 4
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
550 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 2012 Jaguar XK Convertible features & specs
More about the 2012 Jaguar XK
More About This Model

We're doing 140 mph and the 2012 Jaguar XKR-S is still pulling hard. This is Portimao, a new circuit in Portugal built to Formula 1 standards. It's quick, varied and undulates dramatically across the landscape. We crest a brow in 5th gear, lean on the huge steel brakes and click down to 3rd for a 90-degree right-hander as the quad exhausts pop and fart.

The steering is lighter than we expected, but the XKR-S responds with a vigor not found in any other Jaguar. The nose pivots, the suspension sets, the 20-inch Pirellis bite and the most powerful road-going Jaguar ever makes a bid for the apex. Feed the power, unload the lock and feel the rear end slither as 550 horses make a bid for freedom. Soon, we're at wide-open throttle again, and the Jaguar XKR-S lets out a guttural roar.

More Than Just Pretty Paint
Sold only as a coupe, the 2012 Jaguar XKR-S builds on the standard XKR in ways you can only begin to appreciate when it's sitting in pit lane: The changes here amount to much more than a porno body kit and lurid French Racing Blue paint.

Jag has loaded up a new fuel map for the supercharged 5.0-liter V8, and this, coupled with the introduction of an active exhaust, delivers increases of 40 hp and 41 pound-feet of torque over the standard XKR. In addition to the 550 horses, the 2012 XKR-S promises 502 lb-ft of torque from 2,500-5,500 rpm. Short of thrust it is not.

There's still a six-speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels of the Jaguar XKR-S, but it's one of the best automatics in the industry and works well even on the track. Pull the left-hand paddle on the steering wheel and you get quick, rev-matched downshifts. The transmission even skips gears in response to several rapid tugs of the paddle.

Hangs on Like a True Sports Car
Although Jaguar's engineering guru Russ Varney insists we should judge the XKR-S as a "sports GT," rather than a road racer in the mold of the Porsche 911 GT3, he and his team went to work on the XKR's chassis to make it more capable on the track.

A new aluminum steering knuckle allowed the engineers to increase both negative camber and caster up front, so the steering feels more precise and secure when you're changing direction with commitment. Further, the Active Differential Control, which uses wheel speed, yaw and steering angle sensors to modulate torque between the rear wheels, has been reprogrammed to provide greater stability as the XKR-S approaches its claimed 186-mph top speed.

The ride height is 0.39 inch lower on the 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, and spring rates are up 28 percent in front and 32 percent at the rear.

Wider, forged alloy wheels, measuring 20-by-9 inches up front and 20-by-10.5 inches out back, promise better grip while reducing unsprung weight by a total of 10.6 pounds compared to the regular XKR. They're fitted with Pirelli P Zero summer tires, size 255/35ZR20 front and 295/30ZR20 rear.

The Soul of a Muscle Car
Marketing types will tell you that the XKR-S belongs to a genre of car described as "sub-exotic." Like its most obvious rival, the 911 Turbo, Jaguar's coupe is billed as an everyday performance car, not a weekend toy.

But nothing about this Jag feels practical or sensible when you wood the throttle. You breathe in a wisp of tire smoke, watch the nose rise and hear the blown V8 bellow as the car pummels the air in its path. Put crudely, the XKR-S gathers speed like an old-school muscle car. Even with ridiculous blue paint, it's so alpha male it makes the standard XKR look like a metrosexual in a pair of skinny jeans.

Jaguar says the XKR-S hits 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and arrives at 100 mph in 8.7 seconds, and we've little reason to doubt the carmaker's sincerity.

Hey, Guy, Looking for a Challenge?
Chief test driver Mike Cross tells us his team has deliberately engineered the 2012 Jaguar XKR-S to challenge its driver, noting that the standard XK and XKR already cater to meeker souls. Whereas a 911 Turbo feels almost benign, the XKR-S threatens and cajoles in equal measure.

A new track-themed stability control mode allows the car to take attitude — to the point where you instinctively apply opposite lock. On the Portimao circuit, it's a teaching aid. Get brutal with the throttle and you'll get a smack upside the head as it cuts power. Drive smoothly and it lets you edge closer to the limits while providing a useful safety net.

Turn the system off and you have a car with a vast repertoire of skills that demands care and attention. Although the 2012 XKR-S is set up to understeer at the limit, it's comically easy to induce oversteer. If you know what you're doing, it's an absolute hoot, helped by the talkative steering and linear throttle response.

If there's a weak link in the package, it's the brakes. Lacking Porsche's deep pockets, Jaguar has yet to develop carbon-ceramic brakes. The steel set on the XKR-S offers plenty of initial stopping power, but the middle pedal goes soft after just three laps around Portimao. For track-day use, the stock brakes simply won't do.

Away From the Track
Although Jaguar expects most XKR-S owners to take this car to a circuit, this coupe never feels like a track-day special.

On the road, it's remarkably well mannered, as well-tuned adaptive dampers ensure the ride is never harsh or uncomfortable. Surprisingly, the damping actually feels less aggressive than on Jaguar's XFR sedan.

When we turn onto a twisty back road, we also can't help but notice the bulk of the 2012 Jaguar XKR-S. Even with its aluminum unit-body, the XKR-S is still a heavy car at 3,865 pounds (versus the sub-3,500-pound 911 Turbo). It's beautifully balanced on both road and track, but you never quite forget its size. This is a car that's led by its nose.

Making Jaguar Cool Again
There's no denying that the 2012 Jaguar XKR-S causes a stir, even if you opt for something more demure than French Racing Blue.

Design guru Ian Callum argues that the aesthetic changes on the S are driven by a desire to optimize stability at very high speeds. Though the carbon-fiber front splitter and rear wing reportedly reduce lift by 26 percent, their role is also to make a bold statement about Jaguar's future direction. The XKR-S, like the C-X75 supercar, is all about making small boys salivate at the sight of a Jaguar. If 15-year-olds think a Jaguar is cool, says Callum, their dads will, too.

You might just squeeze a kid into the XKR-S's rear seats, but only just. This is really a two-seater with space behind the seats and a capacious trunk. All the controls are laid out sensibly and the sport seats are excellent, but the XK cockpit is starting to feel dated and despite recent improvements, some of the plastics don't feel worthy of a $130K car.

The XKR-S cockpit is identified by appliqués of carbon-look leather, which is starting to feel a bit 1990s. There are "R-S" badges, too, but it's a shame that the gauges have been left unchanged. It'd be nice to have an alternative to the bulbous XK steering wheel, too.

Most Exciting Jag Since the E-Type
Brash and extroverted in all the ways a Porsche is not, the 2012 Jaguar XKR-S is more than just a halo for the face-lifted XK range. It's a statement of Jaguar's newfound confidence. Freed from the shackles of Ford's ownership and the need to protect Aston Martin's market position, the automaker can at last give full expression to its sporting aspirations. The result is the most exciting Jaguar since the E-Type.

There will be those who say that a $35,875 premium over the standard XKR is excessive for a body kit and retune, but the engineering is thorough and the shift in the car's character shouldn't be underestimated. A British bruiser of the old school, but with modern manners, the 2012 Jaguar XKR-S is a wonderful expression of what can be done with engineering talent and the right suits making the decisions.

Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored press event to facilitate this report.

Used 2012 Jaguar XK Convertible Overview

The Used 2012 Jaguar XK Convertible is offered in the following styles: 2dr Convertible (5.0L 8cyl 6A), XKR 2dr Convertible (5.0L 8cyl S/C 6A), and XKR-S 2dr Convertible (5.0L 8cyl S/C 6A).

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Should I lease or buy a 2012 Jaguar XK?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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