- Gorgeous curves
- Convertible doesn't cramp style
- Breathtaking acceleration
- Paddle-shifting, rev-matching automatic
- Grand-touring ride and handling
- Close, but no 911 on the ground
- Um, those are rear seats?
- Convertible does cramp teensy trunk
- Touchscreen can be finicky
Brilliant from the drawing table down to the tarmac, the 2010 Jaguar XK and XKR have ripened into full sports car adulthood.
Look far and wide: You'll be hard-pressed to find a more suave grand tourer than the 2010 Jaguar XK and XKR. We've admired this duo since they were recast in aluminum and rendered spectacular for the 2007 model year. This year, Jaguar's upsizes its powerplants as it hammers out a permanent niche alongside the Benz SL, BMW 6-Series, Chevy Corvette, and even the Porsche 911. The $83,000 XK and $96,000 XKR already had some of the finest looks and road manners. Now they have outrageous output to match.
Convertible or coupe, the Jaguar XK is an aesthetic home run, a perfect 10 to our styling eye. From stunning curve to flowing line, there's barely a surface out of place on the XK coupe or convertible. From some angles it's pure Jaguar; from the rear quarter, the convertible has some Camaro emotion in its undulating panels. Designer Ian Callum's tinkered with the front end mildly this year; the XK's straight-bottomed headlamps are the single detail that could be stretched and smoothed. Frankly, we liked the 2007-2010 XK's front end more-the slight makeover adds big air intakes that demand equal time from the oval grille and sloping hood. The XK's cabin escapes without a smudge; it's beautifully organized and layered with walnut or metallic trim. Knurled chrome rollers control the audio, chromed switches work the power seats-loving nods to tradition tempered with a bright, big LCD touchscreen that lets passengers swipe and tap their way through audio, navigation, and climate controls. The XK's gorgeous gauges are brightly illuminated in white and read cleanly like a collector timepiece; the transplanted JaguarDrive wheel from the Jaguar XF is a natural fit in the console.
Jaguar is serious as a heart attack about tackling Porsche territory-hence the transplant of its big, bawdy 5.0-liter V-8 into the 2010 XK and XKR. The engine tosses off 385 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. With the sole transmission offered, Jaguar says 0-60 mph times will fall to about 5.2 seconds. It's not quite a Jekyll-and-Hyde moment, but the added 75 horsepower are far more vocal and come with a muscular, NASCAR-ish exhaust noise that's addictive. Acceleration is beyond brisk, and throttle response is prompt; the base XK will overstep its 19-inch Dunlops if you apply too much pedal with cold tires. The gearbox, a six-speed ZF automatic with manual shift control, paddle controls, and Sport and Snow shift modes, is a faultless combination of seamless, fast gearchanges smoothed over with rev-matching on downshifts. The XK's fuel economy is EPA-rated at 16/24 mpg (16/22 mpg for the convertible), and we've seen a decent 18-mpg average in mixed driving.
Ride and handling are superb. Steering is a responsive joy, and Jaguar tunes the highway ride for good tracking, flat cornering, and great grand-touring comfort. In our test cars, the XK's brakes have been particularly full of feedback and easy to modulate. All XKs have the Adaptive Dynamics suspension, with continuously variable dampers; it does an amazing job of filtering out abrasive road surfaces and jarring road scabs, without much excess body motion.
Did we forget the XKR? How could we? It's essentially the XK formula, with a few thousand more BTUs applied. The V-8's supercharged, blown up to 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque. Jaguar says it's capable of 0-60 mph runs in just 4.6 seconds, but some buff books have dropped it in 4.0 seconds flat. This is one...hell...of a fast car. Flexible, too-it'll loaf all day around 2,500 rpm, where it's already churning out three-quarters of its maximum torque. The adaptive suspension's electronic screws are tightened a bit more and 20-inch wheels are fitted, but the XKR keeps most of the fine damping and immediate feel of the base coupe and convertible, with the same accurate, light steering.
Consider the 2010 XK a two-seater, like its high-rolling competitors. There's just not enough room to promise anything to anyone behind those slim, comfortable front buckets. Coupes have more headroom and legroom than the previous XK, and the long seat travel will give most front passengers the foot space they need. The rear seats are nothing more than upholstered package shelves, even narrower in convertibles. The trunk is a slim 10 cubic feet in coupes (really, hatchbacks) and shrinks to less than 8 cubic feet in convertibles with the top down. Blame the XK's high cargo floor and low-slung glass and decklid, but you'll have to leave some luggage at home. Instead of griping, spend some time admiring the details and construction in the cabin: the glossy, deeply grained wood, the stitching in the leather, the plush carpeting. You could spend twice as much on some Italian sports cars and get an interior with pedestrian, poorly fitted trim.
Neither NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) nor the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) has crash-tested a 2010 XK. We can see why-still, we're assigning a generous safety score based on its long list of safety features and the inherent strength of its bonded-aluminum body. Dual front and side airbags are standard, along with anti-lock brakes, as well as traction and stability control. Also standard are front and rear parking sensors. Options include active cruise control and adaptive headlights. We'll update our ratings when more data is available.
Selecting an XK is a simpler process than choosing from, say, the hundreds of leather trim pieces you can order in a Porsche 911. The basic XK coupe comes with power windows, locks, and mirrors; cruise control; leather upholstery; a navigation system; Bluetooth audio; 19-inch wheels; keyless entry and push-button start; a heated, tilt-and-telescope steering wheel; and a Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound audio system with Sirius Satellite Radio, a six-CD changer, and USB port. The XK Convertible adds a quick-folding fabric top and power rear quarter windows. HD Radio is an option. The XKR stocks all those features standard, with the addition of 20-inch wheels and different wood or metallic trim. We love the idea of the XK's touch-screen controls, so much more so than the genre of spinning knobs the Germans seem to prefer. However, the XK's screen can be fussy, slow to change screens or recognize a touch, and the maps leave out some rural streets. Where else are you going to get the empty stretches of road you need to exercise the XK's full potential?