I really love the way Jaguar products drive. I really hate the touch-screen infotainment system and pretty much any other electrical item on the car. The problem is with so much traffic clogging up the roads I'm forced to drive most days, I end up spending more time fiddling with the stereo than I do really driving. So I walk away less than thrilled.
The massively powerful 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 in the XKR is one that I would be happy to experience in any vehicle at any time. There's gobs of torque, a nearly perfect exhaust note, and it revs quickly. The six-speed automatic does a nice job of sorting out the power delivery for a grand touring car like the XK.
The weak link in this car is the chassis, which shows its age over bumps if more than half of the engine's power is being delivered. Jaguar is previewing the new XK at the Frankfurt Motor Show, so this is likely one of my last encounters with this generation XK. Hopefully the next XK will be much more reliable, have an easier-to-use infotainment system, and will retain all of this car's fun-to-drive characteristics. It just needs a bit more structural rigidity to handle the engine's power and it would be perfect for the class.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
Few modern cars register as strongly as do Jaguars. The smell of the leather, the dramatic ascension of the rotary shift knob, and the deep burble of the naturally aspirated V-8 create a cohesive Jaguar environment within moments of your climbing into the cabin. The distinct identity extends to a driving experience that perfectly walks the line between refinement and responsiveness. The XK, like the XF and XJ, has light steering that manages to communicate everything you'd want to know about the road, a six-speed automatic that always finds the right gear, and a V-8 that's happy to either luxuriate in its bountiful low-end torque or snap in response to your right foot.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
I have a fondness for the XK, dating back to late 2005 when I was able to drive the first of the current-generation XKs. The car has seen a few changes in the intervening six years -- new engines, an updated interior, the rotary shift dial -- but one of the items that hasn't changed much is the touch-screen interface. It was slow and clunky six years ago, and it still is. Another thing that hasn't changed is the feeling of opulence you have as soon as you sit behind the steering wheel. Soft leather, lovely trim pieces, thick carpets, and an overall air of luxury are hallmarks of Jaguar, and they are definitely there in spades in this XK. Driving this car is pretty heady stuff, too. Everything about this car feels fluid and smooth and effortless, and yet there are an incredible 510 horses available from the supercharged V-8, which can be called upon with one flex of the foot. This XK was the first of the new-generation Jags, giving us a glimpse of the XK and XJ that were in the pipeline. It'll be interesting to see how the next-generation XK lives up to its legacy.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
The newest Jaguars are beautiful, swift, agile cars. I love them for how they look, how they drive, and how they make you feel behind the wheel. But as a car from an earlier generation, the XK doesn't have the same sense of occasion and completeness as the XF and XJ. The steering is numb and lifeless, the interior looks dated, the face is frumpy, and the instrument backlighting looks cheap. The excellent supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 is the saving grace. It is a potent, responsive monster that feels more lively than BMW and Mercedes-Benz's eight-cylinders. Unfortunately, my night with the XKR droptop was marred by torrential rain and the 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque demanded respect or otherwise threatened to throw the Jag off the road. And as Phil Floraday noted, when you're moving slowly, this Jag loses a lot of its appeal. The ride could be better, the in-car entertainment is frustrating, and the seats could have more shape. So if you buy an XKR, just make sure you take it out when the roads are dry and traffic is light.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
My evening with the Jaguar XKR convertible was bookended by bouts of pouring rain with sprinkles in between; not exactly the stuff that sports car dreams are made of, especially when that sports car is a convertible. In the wet, the XKR's 461 lb-ft torque tends to overpower the rear wheels on takeoff. Once up to speed, grip is good but the low-profile tires' tendency to tramline makes constant steering corrections necessary to stay out of highway ruts. The suspension is busy but does a decent job of isolating bigger imperfections.
On the plus side, the 5.0-liter V-8 is responsive and shifts from the six-speed automatic are nearly imperceptible. Steering feel is a bit on the light side -- a characteristic that the slippery roads and tramlining tires only served to highlight -- but the leather-trimmed wheel feels great, although the rim verges on being too plump.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms