's spiffy XK coupe may not fit into every suburban Chicago family budget, (one variant breaks the $100,000 barrier), but for those empty nesters still gainfully employed, Cat Cars more than keep pace with finer-priced competitors, Great Recession or not.
Tata Motors of India purchased British automakers Jaguar
and Land Rover from Ford Motor Co. during the spring of 2008. The current XK platform was developed under Ford's tutelage, debuting in the 2006 model year. The Blue Oval Company will continue supplying powertrains and stampings for an "indefinite period" as part of the $2.3 billion agreement. Assembly of XK continues in England.
In 2011 as in 2010, Jaguar
keeps it simple, sporting three aspirational models: the entry XF sedan (starting around $52,000), posh XJ sedan and XK two door. The XK remains visually the most exciting and a well-balanced, rear-drive conversation starter.
Changes for the compact XK are minimal as last year's 2010 edition introduced a larger engine and an electronic, rotary style, six-speed automatic transmission dial in place of the mechanical shifter. Sadly, no manual transmission is offered for ultimate driver input. Breaking news in 2011 includes the introduction of Jaguar
's Platinum Coverage, which includes complementary oil/fluid changes, brake pad checks along with basic wear and tear item replacements for the first five years or 50,000 miles. Not sure if this helps ease a $100,000 purchase, but it's a nice perk allowing Jaguar
dealers to keep tabs on the XK and the purchasing partners. A growing number of luxury automakers utilize similar programs which enhance owner loyalty.
The 5.0-liter V-8 introduced in 2010 returns in 2011 with two volume varieties: a naturally-aspirated V-8 (XK) with 385 horsepower as well as a twin vortex system, direct injection, supercharged engine (XKR
) with 510 heart-pumping horses. Once again, both are available in a hard-top coupe or triple-lined power fabric convertible. For those seeking something of a collectable nature, a 75th anniversary limited edition XKR
175 coupe (only 175 will be built, so order early) is offered in 2011.
Scant few XK options are available (high definition radio, adaptive radar cruise control, heated front windshield, larger tires) as the standard list remains plentiful. No need to memorize a cadre of trim levels, just the base XK and supercharged XKR
. The XKR
convertible is the highest-priced of the XK family, starting at $101,150. Our XKR
flip top tester bottomed out at $102,000 including an $850 destination charge. An XK convertible with naturally aspirated power lists for $89,000.
Our supercharged XKR
engine required premium fuel generating an estimated 15 miles per gallon city and 22 mpg highway, good enough to bypass any gas guzzler tax. The supercharged engine is nicely toned (with a tenor "C" note) without being overpowering. With the top up or down, riders can enjoy a lively conversation. Three driving modes are offered including a low-grip-surface winter driving setting (glad Jaguar
has Midwest driving conditions in their sights). On the highway, this beast displays refined road manners with a firm, competent ride and responsive handling.
The convertible top, with glass rear window and defroster, motors up and down in less than 20 seconds and couldn't be easier to operate. With the engine running and a continuous push of a button near the headliner, the top starts in motion. Nothing to unlatch as the hard tonnou cover behind the rear seats automatically rises to house the folding fabric top. With the top up or down, not a peep of rattling is audible.
The trunk is functional no matter where the top situates. The cargo bay holds 11.7 cubic feet of usable space (with the top up or down); less than most compact sedans, but certainly enough for overnight bags and/or groceries. During an October weekend getaway to view the changing fall colors of central Wisconsin, the tightly packed trunk held the essentials for two aging humans and a middle-aged K9.
Inside, a number of interior dash and door highlights are offered including the standard Burl Walnut. Rich oak and piano black are also available. On the far side of the left dash are push-button remotes releasing the trunk and right-side fuel door (a much superior location than the floor, left of the driver's seat). At times, the small glove box took several attempts to manually close shut. The thick, three-spoke, heated steering wheel with aluminum highlights includes cruise control on the 9 o'clock spoke while secondary audio controls reside across the aisle at 3 o'clock. Paddle shifters allow for manual forward gear changes sans a foot clutch.
The seven-inch navigation/radio touch screen was difficult to view with the top stowed and Mr. Sunshine beating down. Possible solutions include a power-adjustable angling screen or small visor.
Not only do seats sport soft-grain black leather with white stitching, but so too do doors and portions of the dashboard. Interior A pillars and front headliner sport a white suede/cloth material. Supportive front heated and cooled buckets with side bolsters tilt towards firm rather than plush and incorporate 16-way power settings found on the door. The two deeply scooped leather buckets in back get rendered useless with zero leg room with front buckets positioned at comfortable leg levels. Even Duchess the Schnauzer found these seats perplexing.
In between the front buckets are the aforementioned electronic transmission dial (that retracts up when the engine starts), dual side-by-side beverage holders with silver/aluminum bottom and keyless push-button start. The XK is one of only a handful of new builds with an ash tray and dedicated lighter. A leather-wrapped arm rest doubles as a storage bin and iPod/USB port. Next generation, XK could incorporate additional small storage areas.
The standard 525-watt stereo sounds great with the top open or down. Sirius Satellite radio pre-wiring comes standard. The flat instrument panel includes two, three-quarter circled gauges with a left-side speedometer (registering up to 180 miles per hour) and a right-side tachometer. In between is a digital message center including a bottom bar graph visually illustrating how much fuel remains in the 16.1-gallon tank. Also featured is quaint digitally-designed analog clock face. Time's also digitally displayed in the navigation screen.
Body-colored, strap-like handles adorn both doors. The elongated oval grille contains a mesh-pattern with Jaguar
's circular cat logo smack dab in the middle. Bright bi-Xenon headlights come standard. The body shell's aluminum alloy components help reduce XK's overall poundage for nimble maneuvers while keeping structural integrity high. Quad exhausts add a nice look. Ten-spoke alloy wheels with 19-inch Dunlap tires are standard.
Cornering lights activate when utilizing turn signals making a welcome, noticeable appearance during slower parking maneuvers. Side mirrors smartly include secondary blinker bands alerting those traveling along side of any impending lane changes. One suggestion; add a concave corner insert detailing blind spot activity. These second-view mirrors are commonplace in large SUVs and would benefit the convertible's compromised side sight lines. Other safety nuances include antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control, traction control (which can be manually turned off for desired tire spins), front air bags, side seat air bags and brake force distribution. Front headrests protect against whiplash.
Since suburban Chicago remains four-season territory, questions arise if a soft-top, rear-drive convertible makes sense. Is XKR
a practical family car? No way. Is it a kick to drive? You bet. Can rear-drive adequately handle ice and snow? Yes. Better than ever. Jaguar
is your reward once the kids leave the nest for good, start their own families and ponder buying a Camry.