Reviews

2012 Jaguar XK Walk Around

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.

Revised for 2012, the 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 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 coupe is particularly attractive, with its sleek roofline and beautiful silhouette. The convertible isn't as awkward-looking as some of its rivals, the Mercedes E-Class among them. The convertible's fabric top can be raised or lowered in a speedy 18 seconds.

Interior

The Jaguar XK is a sophisticated sports car, which is well conveyed throughout the cockpit. Most models 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 the trademarked JaguarDrive Selector, a big knob on the center console, instead of a moving a shift lever. Turning the knob will put the driver in Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive or Sport. It's relatively easy to use, but we'd prefer a traditional shift lever. Knobs are for navigation systems, not 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 $100k-plus car. 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.

On the XKR-S, additional touches impressed us, like three unique interior combinations and the all-leather headliner, designed and supplied by Poltrona Frau, an Italian company (despite the German-sounding name) also known for manufacturing Ferrari interiors and $20,000-plus sofas.

Rear legroom in the XK comes up short when compared to larger cruisers such as the BMW 6 Series but it's pleasingly spacious compared with a Porsche 911. Most cars that compete with the XKR-S, such as the Audi R8 and Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG, have no back seat at all. The 2+2 configuration also helps reduce 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 it as a two-seat GT able to occasionally transport children.

Luggage space in the XK is plentiful at 11 cubic feet, and much more than the Mercedes-Benz SL Class. With the top down, the convertible only loses about 2 cubic feet, which is especially roomy for a drop-top.

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