TheCarConnection.com editors found that the performance of the 2009 Jaguar XK series had experts agreeing that other sports cars might have trouble keeping pace.
A 300-horsepower 4.2-liter V-8 engine powers the standard XK models. The available power is incredibly brisk and the Jaguar has a lovely sound at speed—part growl and part mechanical roar. The V-8 engine is mated with a six-speed ZF automatic transmission with sequential shift manual control and F1-style paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
For those lusting for even more performance Jaguar makes R model 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 five seconds. It rolls on 19-inch rims, with 20s available, and it 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 with the XKR Convertible.
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." Car and Driver says the 2009 Jaguar XK has "precise and communicative steering, eager responses, powerful brakes, and gratifying thrust and sound,"
Edmunds is only moderately impressed with the XK’s performance, 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."
While both the coupe and the convertible enjoy acclaim in performance ratings, the 2009 Jaguar XKR coupe is the clear winner. Forbes Autos 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."
TheCarConnection.com drove the 2009 Jaguar XK extensively in the U.S. and in South Africa. The 2009 Jaguar XK's road manners are stunning, with 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.