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Thread: 2010 Jaguar XK

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    2010 Jaguar XK

    Beauty can be more than skin deep - and the 2010 Jaguar XK proves it.

    Heavily updated in all the right places, it's now one of the smartest choices in its segment, in addition to being one of the easiest to fall in love with.

    WHAT IT IS

    The XK is an ultra-luxury high-performance GT coupe/convertible. It technically seats four but it's really got room for just two plus some overnight bags in the back.

    Base price is $82,150 for the coupe, $95,150 for the supercharged XKR coupe. An XK convertible starts at $88,150 and a top-of-the-line supercharged XKR convertible carries a price tag of $101,150.

    WHAT'S NEW

    A much more powerful 5.0 liter V-8 (with or without supercharger) replaces the previous 4.2 liter V-8. The previous (and quirky) dog-leg shift lever has been replaced with a rotary knob controller similar to the one used in the new XF sedan.

    WHAT'S GOOD

    Performance is now appropriate to price. The previous XF looked like a six-figure supermodel - but its 0-60 time was on par with Mere Ordinaries such as $26k Mustang GTs.

    It's one of the best-looking cars on the road - now or ever.

    Much more sporting than overheavy competitors like the Mercedes-Benz SL. Much more elegant and genteel than a BMW 6 Series or Porsche 911.

    A relative steal compared to all of them.

    WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD

    It's almost too pretty to take out into the world. You feel nervous leaving it parked unattended.

    It'd be nice if you could get a manual transmission, especially in the supercharged XKR.

    ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

    The '10 XF comes standard with a larger 5.0 liter V-8 with direct injection that produces 385 horsepower - which is 85 horsepower more than the previous 4.2 liter V-8. Step up to the XKR and you get a supercharged version of the 5 liter V-8 belting out 510 hp, 90 horsepower more than the previous supercharged 4.2 liter V-8.

    Acceleration is much improved.

    While the '09 XF was not a slow car, its 0-60 time of about 6 seconds flat was hardly exotic. For a car pushing six figures, that could be something of a letdown.

    The new 5 liter V-8 rectifies this.

    0-60 time with the standard engine drops to just over 5 seconds - and with the optional supercharged engine, the XKR can get there in about 4.5 seconds.

    The standard transmission with either engine is a six-sped automatic with Sport and Winter modes as well as driver-selectable manual control of gear changes via steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

    All versions of the XK are rear-wheel-drive.

    Fuel efficiency - not that it matters - is 16 city, 24 highway for the non-supercharged XK coupe, 15 city, 22 highway for the supercharged XKR convertible.

    DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

    The XF's genius is that it can hang with a BMW 6-Series (including the M6) or Porsche 911 yet it's as or more comfortable to cruise around in as a Benz SL550. This arguably makes it a superior everyday car - one that will satisfy the enthusiast driver's need for speed (and handling) while maintaining a level of civility - and elegance - that very few similarly powerful cars can match.

    The 5 liter V-8 has immense power; pushing down on the gas pedal results in a a sensation that's like the roll-on of a big commercial jet with an ex-military pilot at the controls. You feel this huge swell of thrust as you ease into the throttle - and suddenly, you're doing 90 before you even have time to think about it.

    And that's the standard, non-supercharged engine.

    It is well worth mentioning that the XFR's supercharged version of the 5 liter V-8 produces 10 more horsepower than the BMW M6's 5 liter V-10 - and it does it for seven thousand dollars less, too ($95,150 vs. $102,350). The gap is even wider when the XFR is stacked up against the Benz SL600. That car costs a forbidding $139,100 but its 6 liter V-12 doesn't outgun the XFR's V-8. Both engines produce exactly the same 510 hp - but the Jag does the job for $45,000 less and even for the rich, that's not chump change.

    I'd personally enjoy a manual transmission but the Jag's six-speed automatic is impossible to fault. In Sport mode it not only becomes more aggressive, it intuits your intentions - for example, holding a lower gear for an anticipated fast pass you haven't actually begun to make yet. It is a "smart" transmission with its own computer brain that judges how it ought to behave based on how you happen to be driving.

    The only thing it doesn't do is chirp the tires on the 1-2 upshift.

    Handling feel is superb in part because the car is not unreasonably heavy - about 3,600 pounds. Compare this with the hulking SL550, which weighs more than 4,200 pounds. Even with driver and passenger aboard, the Jag is under two tons - while the SL550 will be tipping the scales at about the same weight as a mid-sized V-8 SUV.

    The Jaguar is even lighter than the BMW M6 (3,814 lbs.) thanks to its mostly aluminum body.

    Add an auto-adjusting suspension and you've got a car that would be as ideal for a lazy drive all the way from LA to San Francisco on Pacific Coast Highway as it is capable of keeping up with a BMW M6 or even a 911 Porsche when the pace picks up.

    STYLING & UTILITY

    The XF is a stunning car - the kind of rare machine you can spend an hour viewing from different angles, each of them immensely pleasing to the eye. It is clearly a Jaguar - the iconic lineage of drophead coupes and E-types past practically pulses through the curves - yet it's very modern, too. More than that. It's suggestive and seductive - calling to you with a come hither whisper that's damn hard to ignore.

    One design touch that helps give the car its slinky proportions is the ratio of length to width and height. The XK is a full 3 inches wider than the Benz SL550 (and an inch-and-a-half wider than the BMW 6). It also rides on a long 108.3 inch wheelbase, similar to the BMW 6 (109.4 inches) but it rides some two inches lower to the ground.

    The end result is a car that's fittingly feline in its gracefulness and poise; an aluminum-paneled incarnation of its namesake. It actually does look like a Jaguar - the big cat, that is.

    The only thing I'm not a huge fan of is the Jaguar rotary controller for the transmission. Reason? It makes what ought to be a simple function overly complicated.

    Here's the process: You get in, key the engine to life by pushing the start button on the dash, which causes the rotary knob on the center console to gently rise up to meet your hand. This takes a second or three. Now, you can rotate the knob to the desired range - Drive, Reverse and so on.

    It's neat to watch and very trick, no doubt - but if you are someone who likes to jump into your car and just go (like me) you may be irritated by the slight delay you have to wait through before the system will let you put the car into gear. Plus, when (not if) the system develops a problem, the car will be stuck - and expensive to repair. The latter may not matter to the clientele in this price range, but hassle is hassle no matter how affluent you are.

    The thing is, all cars in this range have something similar. BMW, for example, has the godawful iDrive mouse; Mercedes its rage-inducing COMAND interface.

    It's partly due to the tech-lust of some buyers and partly due to the manufacturer's perceived need to make their six figure cars different in every conceivable way from Prolemobiles.

    Still, the fact remains that pulling on a shift handle to place the transmission in Drive or Reverse works. It's straightforward, it gets the job done.

    My attitude on this is simple: If it's not broke, don't fix it.

    The XK's back seats, as mentioned, are Not Fit For People - or even kids. On the other hand, the fact that there is at least some potential cargo space back there makes the XK a bit more everyday useable than two-seaters like the Benz SL550 or Porsche 911.

    And the XK's actually got a bigger trunk than the SL - 12 cubic feet vs. 10 for the Benz.

    The BMW 6 is bigger inside and out (and trunk space-wise) than either.

    QUALITY & SAFETY

    It used to be said in defense of Jaguar's not-so-great reliability that a Jag still looked better on a mechanic's lift than most cars look on the road. That's less a worry today. After Jaguar partnered with Ford (since divorced) the quality control at Jaguar factories improved geometrically. Today's Jags are certainly on par with comparable models from other high-end manufactures like BMW and Benz - and let's not forget that BMW has had its issues in recent years, in particular with its fussy iDrive controller and the software that ran it.

    Benz, meanwhile, makes up for its high quality with exorbitantly high prices. As pointed out earlier, an SL600 costs in excess of $40,000 more than a fully-loaded, just as powerful, just as prestigious XKR convertible. Even if you assume the Jag will need service more often you could use the $40,000 you saved to buy a back-up Miata or Mustang - and use the $10k-plus leftover for a pair of first-class, round trip tickets to Europe.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    Buying a Jaguar used to be mostly an emotion-driven experience that sometimes came with a few headaches later on. You can still get just as carried away - but the new XK makes buying a Jaguar an almost sensible proposition.

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    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
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