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If you removed its green score from the equation, the 2012 Jaguar XK would be one of the highest-rated vehicles at TheCarConnection.
We've been slavish devotees of the XK family since the 2007 model year, when Jaguar refashioned the whole lineup and exchanged their old steel bodied for aerospace-style aluminum ones. The XK was transformed from a pretty luxury two-seat sideshow into a stunning sportscar with all the roadgoing talents of its GT competition. As a knockout alternative to the Mercedes-Benz SL, BMW 6-Series, the Porsche 911, or even the Chevrolet Corvette, the XK generated real excitement with its effortless looks and newly tensed reflexes.
It's only grown better over time, and for the 2012 model year, there's an extreme XK that probably marks the high-water mark for the sportscar before it's replaced in a couple of years. The base car still brings it with a fabulous 5.0-liter V-8, a musclecar-like piece with 385 horsepower in base form and a 510-horsepower right hook when it's supercharged. Channeling that power to its rear wheels through a quick-change six-speed, paddle-shifted automatic, the XKR nukes 60-mph runs in 4.6 seconds or less--while the rorty XKR-S and its 550 horsepower nail those runs in under 4.2 seconds, on the way to a 186-mph top speed. An adjustable suspension gives any XK nearly faultless handling that firms up at the touch of a button, and though the steering changes in the XKR-S give it a little too much lightness, the XK lineup executes a masterful balancing act between traction and comfort, even on big 20-inch wheels.
An utterly captivating cockpit just needs a firmware upgrade for its touchscreen-driven software; it reacts a little slowly as you try to drive the XK's climate, audio and navigation controls. Elsewhere, the Jag's fit and finish could charm anyone, with a choice of wood or metallic trim, natural leather hides and plush, thick carpeting.
The 2012 edition brings some minor improvements to the XK. A rearview camera is now standard, though the Jag's safety scores are still absent--who wants to crash one?--and new trim options come on all models. The XKR-S has its own package of frills, while it bundles up almost all the features available on to its standard equipment list, including an excellent Bowers & Wilkins sound system.
It's no green machine, unless you opt for a traditionally British paint color. The 2012 Jaguar XK is simply a dazzling grand tourer with a performance package that pitches it very closely to the true sportscars in the class, cars wearing Corvette and 911 badges.
- A stunning physique
- A beautifully detailed cabin
- Sportscar reflexes and relaxed grand-touring ride
- Barking, stomping V-8 power
- The fastest paddle-shifted automatic around
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- That big LCD touchscreen reacts slowly
- Throttle feels a little jumpy
- No manual transmission for purists
- Laughably small "back seats"
- Lighter steering than you might expect