2009 Jaguar XK Review

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Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
February 21, 2009

On par in performance with its German competitors but far better looking, the 2009 XK is simply the best mainstream Jaguar ever.

TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the new Jaguar XK in order to give you an expert opinion. TheCarConnection.com's performance car experts researched available road tests on the new Jaguar XK to produce this conclusive review and to help you find the truth where other car reviews might differ.

Unlike previous Jaguar sport cars the 2009 Jaguar XKs are excellent performers with phenomenal acceleration and braking. The combination of outstanding performance and sex appeal makes either XK coupe or convertible a car to own.

A 300-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8 engine powers the standard XK models. Acceleration is brisk, throttle response is prompt, and the Jaguar has a lovely sound at speed—part growl and part mechanical roar. The V-8 engine is mated with a six-speed ZF automatic transmission with sequential shift manual control and F1-style paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

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The handling and road manners of the 2009 Jaguar XK are superb. And this is one of the few cars in which TheCarConnection.com isn’t up in arms over the lack of a manual gearbox; the paddle shifters with the automatic transmission provide reasonably quick shift control and engine braking, and the setup even rev-matches for downshifts. Steering through sharp corners is a joy and in the XK; Jaguar's tuned the highway ride for good tracking and comfort. Cornering is flat, though the ride is supple, and braking, even on the base cars, is instant and full of feel. The XK’s body is made of aluminum and its top is fabric, so it weighs significantly less than some sportscars.

Although some wish the headlamps and front end to look a little more traditional, the 2009 Jaguar XK's body is stunning—particularly 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.

For those who lust for even more performance Jaguar makes R model, also 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 five 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 mpg city, 25 highway for the base coupe, and only as low as 15 mpg city, 23 highway for the XKR convertible.

Four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD), traction control, stability control and front side airbags all come standard on the XKR, which hasn’t been crash tested by either of the major programs.

10

2009 Jaguar XK

Styling

The sleek lines and sporty look of the 2009 Jaguar XK provide much to admire.

The 2009 Jaguar XK received copious praise for its handsome styling. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com were filled with adjectives such as "sleek," "sensual," and "sexy.”

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, "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 2009 Jaguar XK also offers "four new soft-top colors" this year.

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 2009 Jaguar XK for an Aston Martin because of "the broader front bumper [that] distinguishes it from the preceding generation.”

Forbes Autos says that the interior of the 2009 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 complaint, saying the "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."

Most reviewers of the 2009 Jaguar XK, however, seem to agree with Motor Trend; "Trite but true: this is sex on wheels."

10

2009 Jaguar XK

Performance

Watch out Mercedes-Benz SL and Porsche 911 Carrera; the 2009 Jaguar XK is knocking.

TheCarConnection.com editors found that the performance of the 2009 Jaguar XK series had experts agreeing that other sports cars might have trouble keeping pace.

A 300-horsepower 4.2-liter V-8 engine powers the standard XK models. The available power is incredibly brisk and the Jaguar has a lovely sound at speed—part growl and part mechanical roar. The V-8 engine is mated with a six-speed ZF automatic transmission with sequential shift manual control and F1-style paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

For those lusting for even more performance Jaguar makes 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 five 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 with the XKR Convertible.

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." Car and Driver says the 2009 Jaguar XK has "precise and communicative steering, eager responses, powerful brakes, and gratifying thrust and sound,"

Edmunds is only moderately impressed with the XK’s performance, 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."

While both the coupe and the convertible enjoy acclaim in performance ratings, the 2009 Jaguar XKR coupe is the clear winner. Forbes Autos 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."

TheCarConnection.com drove the 2009 Jaguar XK extensively in the U.S. and in South Africa. The 2009 Jaguar XK's road manners are stunning, with 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

2009 Jaguar XK

Comfort & Quality

The rear seat in the 2009 Jaguar XK is an absolute joke, but the driver and front seat passenger are comfortably wrapped and surrounded by pleasing materials.

As long as you’re sitting in the front seats the 2009 Jaguar XK series coddles its occupants.

Consumer Guide gives kudos to the interior quality of the Jaguar; 2009’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."

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."

TheCarConnection.com found reviewers galore who praise the comfort and luxury of the Jaguar 2009 XK, but almost all disliked the two small backseats. Forbes Auto agrees, noting that "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 it’s a fuss-free power arrangement.

9

2009 Jaguar XK

Safety

No crash testing data is available, but the 2009 Jaguar XK comes equipped with plenty of reassuring standard safety features.

The 2009 Jaguar XK has plenty of standard safety gear, along with a sturdy and sophisticated yet lightweight aluminum structure that would otherwise indicate good occupant protection; but with a lack of crash-test results (as is commonly the case for more expensive sports cars), we can’t say that for sure.

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.

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 the 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."

J.D. Power also gives an extensive list of the 2009 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.

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

10

2009 Jaguar XK

Features

The 2009 Jaguar XK lacks nothing in terms of options and features, with a good mix of traditional luxury and modern conveniences.

When it comes to amenities the 2009 Jaguar XK has a giddy affect on most reviewers.

Kelley Blue Book's roster of notable standard features on the Jaguar 2009 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.

J.D. Power says the XK Jaguar offers, "an optional eight-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."

Car and Driver says that in the limited edition Portfolio version of the XKR, Jaguar has made "pretty much everything on the XKR option list is 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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