2009 XKR New Car Test Drive
The Jaguar XK is a thoroughly modern car, having completely redesigned and re-engineered for 2007, and it competes well with the latest versions of the Mercedes-Benz SL, BMW 6 Series, and Cadillac XLR.
The outgoing Jaguar sports car, the XK8, lasted 10 years on the market and, toward the end, had become a patchwork as new technologies such as satellite radio, navigation and airbags had to be adapted to it. Its V8 horsepower number began with a 2 instead of a 3, putting it way behind the competition. There were also new safety and emissions goals to be met. So for 2007, Jaguar replaced the XK8 with a brand-new car from the ground up, the first aluminum-chassis sports car in Jaguar's six decades of production.
Riding on a much longer wheelbase than before, the latest XK offers substantially more interior space. The seats are more comfortable, the gauges are nicer, and everything works better. Benefiting from the lightweight chassis, the 4.2-liter V8 propels the XK from 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds, says Jaguar. Its rigid chassis and the latest CATS adaptive suspension provides a smooth ride and demonic cornering, coupled with accurate steering and powerful brakes. Gone is the old J-gate transmissions shifter, replaced by a more conventional design that offers a Sport mode with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
For 2008, the Jaguar has refined the XK with better interior materials, a concealed (rather than retractable) audio antenna, and more equipment bundled into the optional Luxury Packages. Nineteen-inch run-flat tires are available for 2008, and four new colors have been added for convertible tops. A high-technology, limited-production Portfolio Edition was also introduced.
The XK heritage dates back to the fast and sensual XK-120 of 1949. This latest design of the XK is beautiful and evocative of the breakthrough XK-E of the early 1960s, with some Aston Martin and Ford styling cues thrown in. (Jaguar's Scottish chief designer, Ian Callum, designed the Aston Martin DB-7 and DB-9.)
Like its luscious ancestors, this latest XK is a tasty combination of Jaguar style and traditional British luxury-car wood, leather, and quietness.
The 2008 Jaguar XK coupe ($74,835) and convertible ($80,835) come with a 4.2-liter, 300-horsepower V8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. Standard wheels are 18-inch alloys.
The XKR coupe ($86,035) and convertible ($92,035) add a supercharger to the same engine for 420 horsepower. XKRs come with high-performance brakes, active front lighting, and 19-inch alloy wheels. Inside are sport seats with added lateral support, polished stainless pedals, a suede-like Alston headliner and aluminum trim. Outside, the XKR is distinguished by a deeper front valance, mesh grille inserts, and body-color hood louvers.
Standard equipment for all XK models includes all the power accessories and other amenities you'd expect at this level, plus 10-way power seats with memory, DVD navigation, keyless entry and keyless start, a seven-inch video display, Bluetooth capability, cruise control, 160-watt Alpine stereo with 6CD changer, rear park assist, and an electronic parking brake.
The Luxury Package for the XK ($3,300) adds 16-way power seats with adjustable bolsters, soft-grain leather interior, heated leather steering wheel, leather gearshift knob, power-fold exterior mirrors, and 19-inch alloy wheels. A similar package is also available for the XKR ($2,500). The Aluminum Luxury Package for the XK ($8,125) combines the soft leather 16-way seats with aluminum interior trim and 20-inch alloy wheels. Advanced Technology Packages for the XK ($2,750) and XKR ($2,450) add adaptive cruise control, front park control, and (on the XK) active front lighting. The Premium Sound Package ($1,875) comprises an eight-speaker, 525-watt Alpine Premium Dolby surround sound system with Sirius satellite radio (subscription sold separately).
Several wheel options are available as stand-alones, including 19-inch alloys ($1,200), 19-inch chromed alloys ($1,400), 19-inch chromed alloys with run-flat tires ($1,700), and 20-inch alloys ($5,000).
The Portfolio limited edition ($12,000) for the XKR adds Alcon brakes with six-piston calipers in front and four-piston calipers in the rear, 20-inch polished alloy wheels, polished aluminum power side vents, leather-edged floor mats, a 525-watt Bowers & Wilkins sound system with Sirius Satellite radio, and Celestial Black metallic paint. Buyers can choose American Walnut or engine-spun aluminum interior trim at no extra cost. Also included is the XKR Luxury Package described above. Jaguar said that just 255 Portfolio Editions would be available in the U.S. Adaptive cruise control is available as a stand-alone option ($2,200).
Safety features for all XKs include front and side air bags, ABS with EBD, traction control, dynamic stability control, and tire-pressure monitor. Also included on convertible models is electronic roll-over protection: If the convertible should roll over, two rollover bars come blasting up through the rear glass to stabilize the rear of the compartment.