2014 Jaguar XK Review

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Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
December 26, 2013

The 2014 Jaguar XK is both sublime and sporty, as well as gorgeous, making it one of the most desirable cars in its segment.

The 2014 Jagaur XK is unchanged from last year's model, except for the hyper-limited-edition XKR-S GT, a track-tuned scalpel that's still legal for road use. We're fine with the lack of updates to the rest of the line, however, because the XK's blend of elegant grand touring comfort and sports car spice is just about perfect. On top of that, it's all wrapped in a sleek and sexy shell, offering a uniquely British experience.

Redesigned and re-imagined in 2007, the XK is an all-aluminum, two-plus-two coupe or convertible that cuts a dramatic image, and sounds the part, too, thanks to its complement of V-8 engines. The standard XK gets a 5.0-liter V-8 rated at 385 horsepower. Rear-wheel drive delivers optimum handling dynamics, and a six-speed paddle-shifted automatic handles the gear changes. The supercharged XKR sports 510 horsepower, cutting zero to 60 mph times from 5.2 to 4.6 seconds. Stepping up even further, you'll find the XKR-S, with 550 horsepower and a sharper suspension, along with 4.2-second 0-60 mph times and a top speed of 186 mph.

New for 2014 is the XKR-S GT, explicitly track-tuned for street use, bearing both the most dramatic looks and the most forceful powertrain of the XK line. While power output is the same as the XKR-S, acceleration is slashed to 3.9 seconds to 60 mph thanks to the wider, grippier tires and track-tuned setup.

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Jaguar isn't faking the performance aspects--with the new F-Type pushing boundaries in the size-down segment, and its own Nurburgring Racing Academy, the brand once legendary for its racing efforts has come full circle, bringing that knowledge and expertise to the streets.

The XK isn't all about power and speed, however, as without grace and comfort, a fast street car isn't a very friendly place to be. Fortunately, the XK offers an adjustable suspension to take the edge off the sportier side of life when desired, and a cockpit that's comfortable, elegant, and warm. Wood and metallic trim, natural leather hides, plush carpeting, and well-formed seats give the luxury look and feel you expect from Jaguar.

On the infotainment front, we find ourselves wishing for an upgrade to the firmware, with the touchscreen-driven interface lagging slightly behind inputs to the climate, audio, and navigation controls. A rearview camera is standard, and 2014 brings a range of new trim options. The XKR-S and XKR-S GT offer even more in the way of variations from the XK norm, including their own standard set of luxury and sport items. Depending on the model selected (and the depth of the buyer's pocket book) there are a host of upgrades available, including an excellent Bowers & Wilkins sound system for the audiophiles.

The agencies haven't crash-tested the Jaguar XK, which is common with low-volume, premium vehicles, but it is engineered for safety like any other new Jaguar, and comes with a full set of standard airbags, the rearview camera, and electronic stability and traction control.

As one of the highest-rated vehicles at The Car Connection, the Jaguar XK is undeniably a very good car, despite approaching eight years into the current model's run. If you're in the market for a stylish, sporty, and comfortable grand tourer, give yourself the benefit of a drive in an XK.

10

2014 Jaguar XK

Styling

The Jaguar XK is nearing the end of its run, but its gorgeous, sleek curves don't look it.

Muscular and tense, but still graceful and curvaceous, the 2014 Jaguar XK's styling has evolved from its earlier examples, but what it has lost in slenderness it has gained in purpose and performance.

Showing an economy of design that's uncommon in today's luxury segment, the clean arcs and functional vents that delimit the XK's aluminum curves are at once current and timeless. At the rear quarters, a muscularity pervades, flowing smoothly into the elongated profile, which itself resonates with classic Coventry themes.

At the nose, the headlights are teardrop-shaped, with a flat section just below to break up the otherwise continuous flow, drawing attention to the front end. Design elements that presaged the arrival of the 2014 F-Type include larger air intake vents, a more prominent and deep-set grille, and, in XKR-S models, a low chin spoiler and vertical fender scoops. The limited-edition XKR-S GT gets even more dramatic styling, most of it functional aerodynamic work that produces measurable downforce at speed.

The cabin of the XK gets minor updates for 2014, but mostly carries forward unchanged since its 2007 debut. Simple shapes, relatively few buttons, and straightforward organization are hallmarks that every brand should aspire to. Wood or metallic trim elements, sumptuous leathers, and knurled knobs make the controls and touch surfaces as tactile as they are beautiful.

A well-integrated but prominent large LCD touch screen sits front and center, offering controls over navigation, climate, and audio functions. The JaguarDrive gear selector sits neatly in the center console, while white-lit gauges have an horological quality.

10

2014 Jaguar XK

Performance

Balancing sports car performance and a grand tourer comfort on a knife's edge, the XK gets it right.

Whichever specification of Jaguar XK you choose, you'll find a ready and willing engine, a taut suspension that adjusts to suit both terrain and mood, and a sporty quality to its handling that's often lost in the translation from sports car to larger grand tourer.

In standard form, the XK coupe and convertible use a normally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 engine rated at 385 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. Cruising around town, there's a low burble, reminding you of the power that slumbers under the hood, but not beating you about the ears with it. Mash the throttle, however, and a brilliant roar emerges from seemingly everywhere; it's an almost American small-block sound. You'll also be rewarded with acceleration that presses you back in your seat, reaching 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds (5.3 seconds for the convertible), per Jaguar. Top speed for these models is electronically limited to 155 mph.

All XK models use a six-speed ZF automatic transmission with paddle-shift controls, and all drive the rear wheels.

A notch up the performance pole sits the XKR, with a 510-horsepower, supercharged version of the 5.0-liter V-8 engine that scrambles to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. Handling is also sharpened in the XKR, thanks in part to an active differential, aerodynamic pack, and 20-inch alloy wheels. An active exhaust system with quad tailpipes brings even more of the fabulous Jaguar V-8 audio to life. Top speed is limited to the same 155 mph in standard trim, but an optional Dynamic Pack can raise it to 174 mph, while adding more aerodynamic components, red-painted brake calipers, and special 20-inch alloy wheels.

The XKR-S adds more of the same, with revised springs and dampers, forged and machined front suspension components, XKR-S-tuned Adaptive Dynamics adjustable suspension, an XKR-S-specific active differential tune, and lighter-weight 20-inch alloy wheels. Leather performance seats with 16-way power adjustment, carbon fiber exterior aerodynamic components, and grippy, wide tires further complement the revised suspension. The XKR-S also adds another 40 horsepower over the XKR, bringing the total up to 550 horsepower and the 0-60 mph times down to just 4.2 seconds. Top speed is raised to 186 mph. The special tune on the XKR-S's adaptive dynamic suspension system gives a firmer ride that translates to sharper handling, while a more aggressive throttle tune and quicker shifts accelerate the car's other responses.

If that's still not enough performance for your XK, Jaguar introduces the limited-edition XKR-S GT for the 2014 model year, built by the company's ETO, or Engineered to Order, division. Though only 30 examples of the car--priced at $174,000--were initially planned, more may be produced if customer demand is high enough. With aggressive front aerodynamics, including carbon fiber canards, and a large, fixed rear wing, as well as massive hood vents, a low front splitter, yellow brake calipers, and many more unique performance-bred exterior elements, it's immediately recognizable as something more than even the already impressive XKR-S. And it truly is, despite using the same 550-horsepower supercharged V-8 engine and most of the XKR-S's other performance upgrades. Carbon ceramic brakes with six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers; a completely bespoke suspension with new subframes, control arms, half-shafts, and springs; an adjustable ride height damper system; and forged 20-inch alloy wheels with wide 305-section rear tires are just some of the highlights of the XKR-S GT's performance upgrades. Zero to 60 mph acceleration times are shaved by three tenths of a second to 3.9 seconds, and top speed is a tunnel-vision-inducing 186 mph. Though we haven't yet driven the XKR-S GT, we fully expect it to live up to its promise, as Jaguar has invested considerable time and expense in developing it into the ultimate expression of a performance XK--and the existing models are already massively capable.
 

8

2014 Jaguar XK

Comfort & Quality

Excellent materials, comfortable seats, and a spacious cabin make the Jaguar XK a delight--but not in the minimal back seat.

Billed as a two-plus-two, but effectively a two-seater with seat-shaped parcel shelves behind the front row, the 2014 Jaguar XK is nevertheless comfortable and relatively spacious for those two passengers.

Leg, shoulder, and knee room are impressive in the front seats, roomier than nearly anything else in its class. Head room is improved from past models, despite the low arch of the roofline. The seats are comfortable and highly adjustable, allowing most body types to achieve a good fit, and there's even an adjustable bottom cushion to support longer legs. For the driver, a tilt-telescope steering wheel helps achieve the perfect driving position.

In Touring and XKR-S models, heated front seats are standard, and Portfolio models add ventilation.

The rear seat, as mentioned, is best reserved for cargo, but will serve for children and very small adults in a pinch, provided the front-seat passengers are willing to give up some leg room. We estimate the maximum occupant height of the back row at about 5'5".

The trunk is likewise small, though coupes fare better than convertibles, with 11 cubic feet of space to the drop-tops' 9. Convertibles also suffer with a smaller trunk area opening, further limiting the capacity. The style-focused rear end looks great, but leaves little room for hard-sided suitcases--weekend getaways will be best achieved with soft, and smallish, duffels.

These physical traits aside, the XK's cabin is both beautiful and comfortable. Glossy wood trim or brushed aluminum accent the superbly stitched leather and plush carpeting, giving the sense of a car that's worth twice the XK's price. 

9

2014 Jaguar XK

Safety

The XK hasn't been crash tested, but its high-tech build and standard safety features give it promise.

The 2014 Jaguar XK hasn't been rated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and not just because it's so new--many small-volume, expensive luxury vehicles are skipped.

Nevertheless, the XK continues forward with the same safety equipment it has had for the last several years, including standard dual front and side airbags, though curtain airbags don't make the list because of the convertible. Anti-lock brakes, stability control, and traction control are also standard, with sport settings that allow for more slip and yaw.

A rearview camera was added as a standard item last year, joining front and rear parking sensors as compulsory equipment. The camera significantly improves rearward visibility, which can be limited at times due to the small glass height and low roof. Convertibles get standard pop-up roll bars that deploy when the safety systems sense a rollover is imminent.

Optional safety equipment includes adaptive headlights and active cruise control.

Based on the strength of the 2014 Jaguar XK's standard safety equipment, as well as its bonded-aluminum, aerospace-style construction, we have given the car a tentative safety score of 9.

9

2014 Jaguar XK

Features

Abundant standard equipment and numerous color and trim choices are strengths of the Jaguar XK, but the touchscreen interface is not.

For the 2014 model year, Jaguar has revised some of the trim and package options, but it remains a well-equipped and upgradable luxury grand tourer fit to compete with any alternative in its class.

The XK range starts with the Touring model, which offers a sub-$80,000 starting price (before destination). Available as a coupe or a convertible, the XK Touring includes a premium sound system with satellite radio, rearview camera, heated 10-way power adjustable front seats, parking sensors, steering-wheel audio and phone controls, keyless entry and push-button start, automatic climate control, Bluetooth, navigation, leather upholster, and power accessories. A fabric headliner and 19-inch alloy wheels are also standard equipment.

While the navigation, automatic climate control, and premium audio are generally very good, the method of controlling them--the central touchscreen--can be frustrating. Slow responses, and a menu system that requires several "back" commands, or even a bail-out move with the "home" key, makes many adjustments multi-step endeavors that feel, and are, more complex than they should be.

Moving up to the standard XK model adds standard 20-inch alloy wheels, heated and cooled 16-way power adjustable front seats, Bowers & Wilkins 7.1 Surround Sound audio with 14 speakers, a heated leather steering wheel, and soft-grain leather interior trim.

The performance-oriented XKR gets the standard XK equipment, and gains additions that are largely focused on traction and handling, though it also gets Adaptive Front Lighting dynamic headlights, HD Radio, and unique Jaguar R styling elements inside and out.

For the hardcore XK driver, the XKR-S takes the XKR's features and adds numerous performance features, plus 16-way power adjustable leather performance  seats, a Poltrona Frau leather headliner, and bright stainless steel pedals.

The 25-car U.S. run of the XKR-S GT is intended as a track car for the street, and gets equipment to match. Including all of the XKR-S's standard features, the XKR-S GT adds carbon fiber exterior aerodynamics, carbon fiber-finished exterior trim elements, a suede cloth interior (including the steering wheel, headliner, and its unique performance seats), and many more performance enhancements.

An available Portfolio Pack enhances XK and XKR models with additional chrome, color, and comfort options.

5

2014 Jaguar XK

Fuel Economy

Rated between 15/22 mpg city/highway (supercharged engine) and 16/24 mpg city/highway (normally aspirated engine), the 2014 Jaguar XK coupe isn't the greenest car in its performance class, but it's not the worst, either.

The convertible rates the same at the lower end with the supercharged engine, at 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway, but loses 2 mpg highway at the upper end for a 16/22-mpg rating.

There aren't any plans at the moment to improve these figures in the near future, either. The all-V-8 XK engine lineup is here to stay, and hybrid additions to the brand's portfolio aren't likely to find their way into the XK range.

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9.2
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 10.0
Performance 10.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 9.0
Features 9.0
Fuel Economy 5.0
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