2008 Jaguar XK Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
May 29, 2008

The 2008 Jaguar XK is the brand's best mainstream car ever, with performance equal to its German competitors and looks to beat them all.

The resident car experts at TheCarConnection.com searched the Web for road tests of the 2008 Jaguar XK, and have condensed them in this definitive review. TheCarConnection.com’s editors also have driven the XK Jaguar extensively and offer more driving impressions and details where they help you to make a better buying decision.

The 2008 Jaguar XK coupes and convertibles are some of the car world's most-refined, most beautiful offerings. Unlike previous Jaguar sportcars, they're also taut, brilliant performers, with exceptional acceleration and braking.

The "base" XK coupe and convertible are powered by a 300-horsepower 4.2-liter V-8 engine, and each comes standard with a six-speed ZF automatic transmission with sequential shift manual control and F1-style paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The available power is more than brisk, and the Jaguar V-8 has a lovely sound at speed, part growl and part mechanical roar.

High-performance enthusiasts can step up to the R model, available in both coupe and convertible body styles. It features a supercharged, 420-hp V-8 engine and a six-speed paddle-shifted automatic that push it to 60 mph in about 5 seconds. It rolls on 19-inch rims, with 20s available, and it wears aluminum trim outside and in to distinguish it from the lower-powered car. There's also a Portfolio version of the XKR that gets specific wheels, black paint, and larger brakes, but it's essentially the same performance. Gas mileage is as high as 16/25 mpg with the base coupe, and 15/23 mpg with the XKR Convertible.

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The 2008 Jaguar XK's road manners are stunning, particularly when compared with the previous-generation XK. Cornering is flat, though the ride is supple, and braking, even on the base cars, is instant and full of feel. Steering through sharp corners is a joy and in the XK; Jaguar's tuned the highway ride for good tracking and comfort. The paddle shifters on the automatic transmission are good enough to forget the absent manual-transmission option. Its body is made of aluminum and its top is fabric, so it weighs significantly less than some sportscars.

The 2008 Jaguar XK's body is stunning, though some car writers think its headlamps should look more traditional. It's particularly attractive from the rear. The interior is beautifully laid out and trimmed with wood or satin metal. Front and center is a touch screen that controls climate, navigation, and audio systems, and it's a simple touch or two away from most functions, unlike the maddening rotating knobs in Audi and BMW sportscars. The front seats are very comfortable, but the rears are nothing more than upholstered package shelves.

Four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD), traction control, stability control, and front side airbags all come standard.

10

2008 Jaguar XK

Styling

The majority of car experts and enthusiasts alike found much to adore about the sleek lines and sporty look of the 2008 Jaguar XK.

In all reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, the 2008 Jaguar XK enjoyed ample praise for its bold good looks, with descriptions like "sleek," "sensual," and "sexy" abounding.

Car and Driver praises the "gorgeous interior and exterior styling," though it warns that the "[e]xterior styling might be a bit too subtle for some." Saying that people often mistake the 2008 Jaguar XK for an Aston Martin because of "the broader front bumper [that] distinguishes it from the preceding generation" of XKs, Cars.com reports that the "XK's styling garners almost universal admiration." They specifically mention the "pronounced haunches [that] promise the power that the car thankfully delivers." Edmunds agrees: "there's more to this luxury coupe and convertible than sleek and muscular styling."

Kelley Blue Book notes that "the XK Coupe is just slightly longer than its predecessor, looking more contemporary and athletic." They also mention that the "non-functional front-fender vents are one of Jaguar's newest signature design touches." According to Cars.com, the 2008 Jaguar XK also offers "four new soft-top colors" this year.

ForbesAutos says that the interior of the 2008 Jaguar XK "is dressed up with aluminum trim (more traditional burl walnut is a no-cost option)" and that the "XKR Portfolio version gets a more luxurious interior, with Spun Aluminum trim (Satin American Walnut is optional), an alloy and leather-trimmed gear selector, [and] contrast stitching on leather surfaces."

Cars.com has a minor beef with this Jaguar; 2008’s "limited-production Portfolio version of the XKR...adds exterior touches, including exclusive 20-inch wheels," but that another of those exterior touches on the XKR trim--"a more aggressive bumper and plasticky silver grille"--is not as successful and "frequently draws criticism."

All in all, however, most reviewers of the 2008 Jaguar XK would seem to agree with Motor Trend: "Trite but true: this is sex on wheels."

10

2008 Jaguar XK

Performance

The 2008 Jaguar XK is--finally--a real competitor for the likes of the Mercedes-Benz SL.

The 2008 Jaguar XK series is not just a pretty face; TheCarConnection.com found that most experts agree its performance gives other sportscars a run for their money.

The "base" 2008 Jaguar XK coupe and convertible are powered by a 300-hp 4.2-liter V-8 engine, and each comes standard with a six-speed ZF automatic transmission with sequential shift manual control and F1-style paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The available power is more than brisk, and the Jaguar V-8 has a lovely sound at speed, part growl and part mechanical roar.

High-performance enthusiasts can step up to the XKR Jaguar; 2008 versions are available in both coupe and convertible body styles. It features a supercharged, 420-hp V-8 engine and a six-speed paddle-shifted automatic that push it to 60 mph in about 5 seconds. It rolls on 19-inch rims, with 20s available, and wears aluminum trim outside and in to distinguish it from the lower-powered car. There's also a Portfolio version of the XKR that gets specific wheels, black paint, and larger brakes, but it's essentially the same performance. Gas mileage is as high as 16/25 mpg with the base coupe, and 15/23 mpg with the 2008 Jaguar XKR Convertible.

Car and Driver says the 2008 Jaguar XK has "precise and communicative steering, eager responses, powerful brakes, and gratifying thrust and sound," and ConsumerGuide testing shows that both convertibles and coupes are "aided by a quick-acting automatic transmission that doesn't hesitate to downshift for effortless highway passing." Kelley Blue Book raves that the "smooth-as-silk sweetheart generates 300 thoroughbred horses for acceleration of 5.9 seconds for zero to 60 miles per hour and 14.4 seconds in the quarter-mile."

While both the coupe and the convertible enjoy acclaim in performance ratings, the 2008 Jaguar XKR coupe is the clear winner. ForbesAutos calls it "one of the most technically advanced Jaguars ever," extolling virtues like the six-speed automatic transmission that "allows manual operation via racing-style paddles mounted on the steering wheel" and the suspension system that "lets the driver switch between comfort and sport modes." Motor Trend also highlights the difference in performance between the XK and XKR, saying "the extra power and torque from the R's supercharged 4.2-liter V-8 is instantly noticeable."

And when it comes to ride and handling, NewCars.com writes, "The standard Enhanced Computer Active Technology Suspension automatically ensures the optimum balance between ride and handling by continuously adjusting the vehicle's shock absorber settings." Edmunds is only moderately impressed, noting that the "ride and handling are certainly better than before and certainly competent enough." However, they warn drivers: "Just don't expect the XK to keep up with a Porsche 911 in the mountains." While the XKR's "420-hp supercharged V-8 easily closes the performance gap" between it and "competitors like the BMW 6 Series or Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class," doing so bumps the price into six figures, "in direct competition with the likes of the BMW M6 and Aston Martin V8 Vantage."

TheCarConnection.com has driven the 2008 Jaguar XK extensively here at home and in Africa. The 2008 Jaguar XK's road manners are stunning, particularly when compared with the previous-generation XK Jaguar; 2008’s car has a supple ride and flat cornering. Braking, even on the base cars, is instant and full of feel. Steering through sharp corners is a joy, and in the XK, Jaguar's tuned the highway ride for good tracking and comfort. The paddle shifters on the automatic transmission are good enough to forget the absent manual-transmission option. Its body is made of aluminum and its top is fabric, so it weighs significantly less than some sportscars.

9

2008 Jaguar XK

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Jaguar XK has stunning interior styling and quality, as well as room for front passengers; backseat riders, however, beware.

Super-sleek sportscars are not always at the top of the list for comfort, but the 2008 Jaguar XK series does surprisingly well at coddling its occupants--as long as they are in the front seat.

TheCarConnection.com found reviewers galore who praise the comfort and luxury of the Jaguar 2008 XK, but almost all disliked the two small backseats. Cars.com says the "front-seat legroom is far better than average and its dimensions are more than workable for adults. The backseat is such only in name. There's no legroom at all unless the front occupants slide forward, and the seat cushions have oddly shaped contours."

ForbesAuto agrees, noting "two adults will be cozy in the nicely trimmed, two-seat cabin; like most low-to-the-ground convertibles, however, getting in and out with the top up can be a problem." On the bright side, you don't have to get out to deal with the top, as according to NewCars.com, the convertible XK "features a power, self-stowing top with three layers of insulation for the ultimate open-air experience."

ConsumerGuide gives kudos to the interior quality of the Jaguar; 2008’s XK has a few plastic pieces that disappoint, but “cabin materials are otherwise high quality and well-assembled. Standard wood or available aluminum trim each creates an inviting ambiance." They give high marks to the standard "steering wheel paddles [that] are easy to use and provide even faster gear changes."

9

2008 Jaguar XK

Safety

The 2008 Jaguar XK has plenty of standard safety features, but the government hasn’t crash tested one yet.

TheCarConnection.com found expert reviewers to be impressed with this Jaguar; 2008’s XK has plenty of standard safety gear.

According to ConsumerGuide, "Available safety features include ABS, traction control, antiskid system, and front side airbags that provide head and torso protection."

J.D. Power also gives an extensive list of the 2008 Jaguar XK's safety measures, including "dual front airbags" and "seat-mounted, side-impact airbags for head/chest protection for front occupants," but does note that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not crash tested the vehicle.

Edmunds points out that "all XK convertibles have two aluminum hoops that auto-deploy in the case of a rollover accident." Cars.com makes note of a new alert system called Forward Alert, which “sounds a warning if the car is approaching an obstacle at too high a speed. The driver can preset the distance at which the alert activates."

Kelley Blue Book lists four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel anti-lock braking system (ABS), Trac Dynamic Stability Control (TracDSC), anti-theft security system with engine immobilizer, and "Jaguar's dynamic head restraint system that helps prevent whiplash in case of a rear impact" as other safety features.

10

2008 Jaguar XK

Features

Phenomenal options and features abound in the 2008 Jaguar XK.

TheCarConnection.com found most reviewers to be unashamedly enthusiastic about the features of the Jaguar 2008 XK.

The list of standard features is impressive: Kelley Blue Book's roster of notable standard features on the Jaguar 2008 XK includes tire-pressure monitoring; EBD; speed-sensitive variable-rate power steering; power windows, locks, and mirrors, keyless entry and start; dual-zone climate control; DVD-based touch-screen navigation; three-position memory system; Bluetooth wireless communications system; bi-xenon headlamps with power-wash and self-leveling; rain-sensing wipers; garage-door opener; Reverse Park Control; and Alpine six-speaker audio with a six-disc CD changer.

If that's not enough, J.D. Power says the XK Jaguar offers "an optional 8-speaker, 525-watt, Alpine premium sound system [that] has Dolby Prologic II surround sound." In addition, Sirius Satellite Radio is available. According to Kelley Blue Book, the Advanced Technology Package includes "Adaptive Cruise Control, Adaptive Front Lighting and Front Park Control," and one of their favorite features is the "seven-inch, menu-driven, full-color touch screen [that] lets you easily and intuitively select and control the DVD-based navigation system as well as elements of the climate, audio and telephone systems, and certain other vehicle settings, with minimal distraction."

"Sex appeal has always been a hallmark of the XK Jaguar," says Newcars.com, and the availability of 19- and 20-inch chromed and aluminum alloy wheels "only serves to enhance that image." They also praise the "rich, high-gloss burl walnut or poplar trim [which] adds classy ambience inside the cockpit."

In the limited edition Portfolio version of the XKR, Car and Driver says Jaguar has made "pretty much everything on the XKR option list standard -- including the softest of Jaguar's leather upholstery and the upgraded 525-watt surround-sound audio system." The XKR Portfolio also comes with "gorgeous Bowers and Wilkins aluminum-domed speakers."

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9.6
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 10.0
Performance 10.0
Comfort & Quality 9.0
Safety 9.0
Features 10.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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