2011 Jaguar XK, XKR
Base price: $83,000 – $102,000
As tested: $107,000
MPG: 15 city/22 highway
- Perfect balance of performance and luxury
- Stunning good looks
- Incredibly fast
- Way out of my price range
- Not enough leg and headroom
By Jim Prueter
Brutally fast luxury
For 2010, the Jaguar XK and its high-performance sibling XKR received a fairly significant mid-cycle upgrade to the fresh design that was introduced for the 2007 model. This is highly unusual for the Coventry, England auto manufacturer that has a history of going years between model makeovers. It heralded a new way of doing business with both Jaguar and Land Rover now under aggressive new Indian ownership.
The all-aluminum XK’s exterior received more dramatic and forceful appearance details, albeit evolutionary rather than radical. They included a new front bumper and fascia design with a lower mesh grille, a front lip spoiler and fascia air dams. Exterior mirrors are more aerodynamic; chrome has been added on the window surrounds along with a pair of side vents on the front fenders. LED taillights with twin reversing lamps are new, along with a new rear bumper setup.
There’s been no shortage of polarizing comments about the XK’s exterior design and you can judge for yourself, but I think it looks great, both muscular and elegantly stylish at the same time.
Inside, Jaguar claims big improvement in interior quality along with a wider choice of interior color options. Rich oak, burl walnut, figured ebony wood or aluminum knurled pattern with piano black center console finisher interior trim are all available. The JaguarDrive SelectorÔ the unique rotary-style pop-up automatic transmission gear selector first seen on the XF model has been added, including button options to select winter and dynamic driving modes.
Door casings are upgraded with saddle-stitched lines and soft-touch trim; the center console has been reworked to be more attractive and better finished. The console-mounted red lit start/stop button with the Jaguar face pulses like a heartbeat glowing brighter and dimmer with each beat once the cat is unlocked and awaiting to be pressed to bring the engine to life. Front seats feature a new cooling option. There’s a standard Bowers and Wilkins 525-watt signature speaker system with six-disc in-dash CD changer.
The XK does have a backseat, however, it’s only suitable for packages — perhaps small children under extreme emergency occasions only.
For 2011, the XK and XKR retain the 385 horsepower direct-injection engine it introduced last year. Jaguar calls the 5.0-liter engines AJ-V8 Gen III and says it decreases both emissions and fuel consumption while delivering 385 horsepower, 85 more than 2009’s 4.2-liter V8.
XK and XKR are available in both a coupe and cloth-top convertible model.
The supercharged version in the XKR produces 510 horsepower, 90 more than the 2009 model. Jaguar will continue with ZF’s six-speed automatic transmission, which is found in numerous luxury car builders’ products and noted for its excellence performance. A manual shifter is not available in the XK product line, but steering wheel mounted paddle shifters for manual shifting through the transmission are standard.
Jaguar claims a 0-60 mph time of 5.2 seconds and 4.6 seconds in the performance XKR model.
For 2011 we tested the 510 horsepower XKR convertible that was nothing short of brutally fast. Still if you’re a strict performance purist, you’ll be more satisfied with offerings like the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Dodge Viper SRT-10 or Nissan GT-R. All scream to 60 mph in less than four seconds with a top speed of 200 mph. XKR has a top speed of 155 mph but an all-new for 2011 Speed Pack and Black Pack raises the top speed to 174 mph, and the Black Pack provides piano black finished trim around the windows and grilles, charcoal leather interior and side tape.
But the Jaguar experience has never been just about brute speed performance, but rather about the dynamics of open road driving with a perfect balance of comfort, performance and superb handling.
Sure Z06 and Viper are quicker and faster if you judge acceleration times alone, but we give the XKR high marks for drivability. It’s fast — leaping forward with a fury — and sweet sounding with its fully active quad exhausts burbling and growling like a pacing big cat.
Both the XK and XKR offerings are available in either coupe or convertible. Standard equipment includes voice activated controls, 19-inch Tamana-style 10-spoke alloy wheels (XKR), adaptive cruise control, front and reverse park control with graphic display on the 7-inch touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, bi-xenon high intensity headlamps with cornering lamp, and BluetoothÒ wireless technology for mobile phones.
For 2011 there are a few very minor changes to the front and rear fascias, but something only the most ardent XK loyalists would recognize.
Deficiencies include an interior that’s still too small for taller drivers (I was never comfortable behind the wheel given the lack of leg, head, hip and shoulder room), and a small back seat — a sort that rejects all sizes of human life.
We also thought the navigation system, parking sensor system, lack of a rear backup camera and rearview mirror integrated blind spot warning system are significant missteps for a vehicle in this price class. In addition, the controls for audio and climate control were dated and again outdone by competition.
Safety equipment includes dual front and side airbags, rollover protection system, 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, and dynamic stability control. The government has not tested the XK for frontal, side or rollover crash test ratings as of this writing.
Overall, our 2011 XKR tester is a blast to drive. Visually and performance-wise, Jaguar lives up to its imperative British heritage with few disappointments. Of course a Jaguar XK is bought mainly for its looks, which explains why the brand’s new owners infused major changes for both the coupe and convertible versions. At all times a vehicle in this price range must be kept fresh to remain competitive. After all, the XK is the crown jewel and halo car for the entire Jaguar brand.