There was, however, one glaring flaw on our 2007 XK's exterior - the retractable antenna. Not only was the clunky piece of chrome a throwback to the 1990s, but it also turned out to be an expensive headache. Three - yes, three - times we forgot to turn off the stereo while going through the automatic car wash, resulting in a bent antenna. It ended up costing us $1466 in out-of-pocket repair costs. (Thankfully, the antenna on the 2008 XK is integrated into the rear spoiler.)
We unanimously agreed that the XK's ride and handling balance was about perfect. The current XK benefits from an aluminum unibody that uses the same epoxy bonding and riveting techniques employed in the construction of the XJ sedan. Not only does this result in a chassis that is significantly stiffer than the old XK's, but it is also lighter (although our XK coupe weighed in at 3784 pounds, which doesn't exactly make it a lightweight).
"Dynamically, the thing blew my mind," remarked associate editor Sam Smith. "It was equally at home blasting down a rutted dirt road or soaking up whumps in the road while sideways as it was delivering tuxedoed boffins to the opera. How many other companies tune their dampers that well? Or get suspension stuff in general that right?" In addition to the spot-on suspension tuning, the paddleshifted automatic (a first for Jag) makes perfect, rev-matched downshifts, and the steering feel is light and precise.
The 300-hp, 4.2-liter V-8 might not be overly powerful (you can always opt for the 420-hp supercharged XKR if you need more), but it makes a wonderful, deep growl when revved. The sound is especially pleasing from outside the car, although, in an attempt to heighten driver involvement, the XK's engineers actually routed a sound-conducting duct to deliver the engine's sound into the cabin.
The car's overall drivability and character give us enough reason to laud the Jaguar XK - to the point that some people on our staff even voted for it as an All-Star this year, although it ultimately didn't make the cut - despite some of its obvious flaws. Americans tend to root for the underdog, and in the automobile industry, there have been few makes that have so consistently been an underdog than Jaguar. We really wanted to love everything about this striking two-door. Dynamically, the XK is one of the best luxury cars on the market. It's a delightful grand tourer, and it reveals its sports car roots when it hits a twisty patch. But we found ourselves at the dealership a few times too often, for items ranging from badly installed trim pieces to a malfunctioning air-bag light to a poorly fitting driver's-side door. All these items were fixed under warranty, so our out-of-pocket expenses weren't outrageous, but we had hoped for a more seamless ownership experience.
Only time will tell what the future of Jaguar brings and what the XK's place in the company will be. But in the meantime, we're happy to pile on the miles as we spend our last few weeks with the XK, content in the knowledge that we're driving one of the most stylish, well-mannered GT cars in the world - even if a piece of trim falls off now and then.