The Jaguar XK is a beauty, its long hood and voluptuous fenders flowing without interruption. Design cues give a nod to the car's history while achieving a modern look. And while designers might admit that today's XK is more about reducing drag than looking beautiful, the sleek lines are nothing to shake a stick at.
A broad, oblong grille makes the front fascia look classier and more approachable than Jaguar's competitors. The long hood and short overhangs keep the sporty appearance while clearly remaining luxurious.
The coupe is particularly attractive, with its sleek roofline and beautiful silhouette. The convertible doesn't look as awkward as some of the XK convertible's rivals, the Mercedes E-Class among them. The convertible's fabric top can be raised or lowered in a speedy 18 seconds.
The XKR has performance detailing, including a black mesh grille, special wheels and R logos.
On the XKR-S, vertical side air dams channel air along the side of the car for improved aerodynamics. A carbon fiber front splitter, rear air diffuser and rear lip spoiler also help to keep the car grounded at high speeds.
The Jaguar XK is a sophisticated sports car, which is well conveyed throughout the cockpit. Most XK cabins are more luxurious than sporty, with the exception of the XKR-S, with its racing-inspired seats and contrast stitching. Fit, finish and materials on all variants are superb, and seats have a nearly endless range of adjustability, including side bolsters, which keep driver and passenger firmly in place around corners.
The XK uses a big knob on the center console, the JaguarDrive Selector, instead of a shift lever, to change from Park to Reverse, Neutral, Drive or Sport. It's elegant and easy to use, though unlike traditional shifters it requires the driver to look at it. Shift into the Sport mode and changing gears can then be performed with the lightning-quick paddle shifters.
The XK instrumentation nods toward luxury. The gauges have pretty aluminum bezel rings. The gauges use red needles, with white numbers indicating 180 mph on the speedometer, 8000 rpm on the tachometer. On the XKR-S, a blue and black scheme stands out nicely on a black background, and the speedo goes to 190 mph, which is nearly possible to reach, given the car's top speed of 186. We don't recommend that, however.
The wide center stack is mostly filled by the 7-inch LCD touchscreen. We found the electronic interface not as intuitive as we'd like, and certain functions, like adding an address or modifying a destination, take far too many steps. For example, one has to hit the Home button to switch functions, instead of going straight to, say, the audio controls. Also, the fonts and graphics on the interface do not look sophisticated for a car in this class. In the convertible, the screen can be tough to read on a sunny day with the top down, and we did get some glare off the dash.
The XKR-S offers three unique interior combinations and an all-leather headliner, designed and supplied by Poltrona Frau, an Italian company (despite the German-sounding name) known for manufacturing Ferrari interiors and $20,000-plus sofas. This makes the XKR-S cabin truly impressive.
Rear legroom in the XK comes up short when compared to larger cruisers such as the BMW 6 Series, but the XK's back seats are pleasingly spacious compared with those in a Porsche 911. Most cars that compete with the XKR-S, such as the Audi R8 and Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG, have no back seat at all. The XK's 2+2 configuration also reduces insurance rates, we're told. Because of its sloping roofline, headroom in the XK coupe or in the convertible with the top up restricts the rear to children or petite adults. We view the Jaguar XK as a two-seat GT able to occasionally transport children.
Luggage space in the XK is plentiful at 11 cubic feet, much more than that of the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class. With the top down, the convertible only loses 2 cubic feet to the coupe, which is especially roomy for a drop-top.