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Does it surprise you that one of the top-rated vehicles at TheCarConnection is...a Jaguar sportscar?
We've admired the Jaguar XK family since the 2007 model year, when they were recast in aluminum and went from pretty to spectacular. The current XK made a major leap for the brand and for sportscar shoppers who wanted some alternative to the Mercedes-Benz SL, BMW 6-Series, the Porsche 911, or even the Chevrolet Corvette. Not only was the shape much more tensely drawn, so was the performance--and it's only grown better over time.
These days, the XK lineup is founded on a new 5.0-liter V-8 built by Jaguar since its divorce from Ford. It's a muscular, almost musclecar-like engine, with 385 horsepower in base tune and a staggering 510 horsepower when it's supercharged. Funneling its power to the rear wheels through a swift, six-speed, paddle-shifted automatic, the XKR can nuke a 60-mph acceleration test in 4.6 seconds or less. Way less, from what we feel and hear. The XK's handling is almost faultless, too, even with big 20-inch rims: it's a masterful balancing act between traction and comfort managed by an electronic suspension system.
The cabin's utterly captivating, save for the already outdated touchscreen that drives the climate, audio and navigation controls. It's just a little too slow and complex, given the great systems coming from Ford and Chrysler. The XK's lavish wood or aluminum trim and its achingly soft leather seats will make up for it, we promise.
For 2011, the improvements to the XK are minor. Jaguar's added five years or 50,000 miles of free service to reassure buyers unsure of its post-Ford quality controls. There's also HD Radio on the options list, and a new XKR175 limited-edition coupe with 20-inch wheels, red brake calipers and a top speed of 174 mph.
It may not have the efficiency of some of the top-scoring vehicles we've road-tested, but the Jaguar XK and XKR overdeliver in so many other ways, it's the sportscar we'd choose for grand touring adventures...and everything faster.