The 2008 Jaguar XK series is not just a pretty face; TheCarConnection.com found that most experts agree its performance gives other sportscars a run for their money.
The "base" 2008 Jaguar XK coupe and convertible are powered by a 300-hp 4.2-liter V-8 engine, and each comes standard with a six-speed ZF automatic transmission with sequential shift manual control and F1-style paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The available power is more than brisk, and the Jaguar V-8 has a lovely sound at speed, part growl and part mechanical roar.
High-performance enthusiasts can step up to the XKR Jaguar; 2008 versions are 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 5 seconds. It rolls on 19-inch rims, with 20s available, and 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 mpg with the 2008 Jaguar XKR Convertible.
Car and Driver says the 2008 Jaguar XK has "precise and communicative steering, eager responses, powerful brakes, and gratifying thrust and sound," and 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."
While both the coupe and the convertible enjoy acclaim in performance ratings, the 2008 Jaguar XKR coupe is the clear winner. ForbesAutos 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."
And when it comes to ride and handling, NewCars.com writes, "The standard Enhanced Computer Active Technology Suspension automatically ensures the optimum balance between ride and handling by continuously adjusting the vehicle's shock absorber settings." Edmunds is only moderately impressed, 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."
TheCarConnection.com has driven the 2008 Jaguar XK extensively here at home and in Africa. The 2008 Jaguar XK's road manners are stunning, particularly when compared with the previous-generation XK Jaguar; 2008’s car has 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.