2010 Jaguar XK Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
Upgraded, with sensational new engine.
The Jaguar XK features significant revisions for 2010, headlined by a totally new engine. The 2010 Jaguar XK sports revisions to the front bumper and rear spoiler and taillamps, along with a touched-up interior. The XK was completely redesigned for the 2007 model year. For 2010, the chassis is unchanged, being only three years old and still state of the art: aluminum monocoque, bonded and riveted, very lightweight and rigid. The suspension and electronics supporting it are either improved or new for 2010.
The six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is smooth and tight with rev-matching downshifting. For 2010, a dial on the center console is used to select Drive, Park, Reverse and Sport, a feature introduced on the 2009 Jaguar XF.
The new V8 engine displaces 5.0 liters yet is more compact than the old 4.2-liter. It's significantly more powerful than the previous engine, while getting the same fuel mileage and slightly better emissions, thanks to direct injection, which sprays aerated fuel into the combustion chambers.
As for acceleration, the new engine turns the 2010 XK into an eyeball-popper, bringing the 0-60 time down to 5.2 seconds from 5.9 in the normally aspirated XK (385 hp).
The 2010 Jaguar XKR, using the same engine supercharged to 510 horsepower, can accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 4.6 seconds, a significant improvement over the 4.9 seconds achieved by the previous model. The secret to this newfound thrust is a new generation of supercharger.
The 2010 Jaguar XK has it all: Flawless engine, transmission, brakes, styling, details. Superb ride and cornering. Comfortable interior slanting more toward luxury than sport. Our biggest complaints are the round knob that serves as the shifter and the non-intuitive LCD touch-screen controls.
The 2010 Jaguar XK comes in four models: XK Coupe ($82,150); XK Convertible ($88,150); XKR Coupe ($95,150); XKR Convertible ($101,150). All models use the new 5.0-liter V8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The normally aspirated XK makes 385 horsepower, while the supercharged XKR is rated at 510 hp. Otherwise, the two models are similarly equipped.
Standard equipment includes every power thing you can think of. Twin-stitched leather seats in caramel, charcoal or ivory, with your choice of four interior trim woods; 19-inch alloy wheels; navigation system with 7-inch touch-screen; keyless entry and starting; bi-xenon headlamps with washers, automatic leveling, and corner beams triggered by turn signals; air sensors to optimize cabin air quality; front and rear Park Assist; and more.
The Advanced Technology Package ($2,500) includes adaptive cruise control and active front lighting. HD Radio ($300) can be added to the XK.
Safety equipment includes frontal airbags, Dynamic Stability Control, Cornering Brake Control, Traction Control, Anti-Lock Brakes with EBD and Brake Assist, Adaptive Restraint Technology, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, and, for the convertible, rollbars that actuate in 0.065 seconds.
The Jaguar XK has been such an iconic beauty, its voluptuous fenders flowing without interruption back to the 1954 Jaguar D Type racing car and the 1957 XKSS, that refinements to its body are almost a no-win situation.
But it's hard to argue with the 2010 XK's lightly tweaked nose. And the XKR, described here, has some touches that improve its looks over the 2010 XK, itself improved over the 2008 XK (there was no 2009). The foglamps are moved up into the headlamp cluster, replaced by small vertical vents at the ends of the new bumper, that help cool the front rotors.
There are also vents on the hood of the XKR that open like a clamshell, and add muscle-car flavor. The XKR also has fender cutouts behind the front wheels to extract more heat. The XKR has two twin exhaust tips that declare horsepower, complementing and balancing the hood vents.
A horizontal chrome bar has been taken out of the XKR grille for 2010, and that's nice, leaving just neat mesh and a round growling Jaguar emblem that's pretty cool but not quite like the leaping cat that used to be a hood ornament, until deemed dangerous to pedestrians and high-profile to thieves because it was just too cool.
At the rear of the XK are new LED taillamps, which definitely sharpen the car at night, and a lower spoiler, which you can't actually notice. The XK gets first-in-class visibility to and from the rear, with twin back-up lights and taillight fog lamps to protect you in soup like they have in the British Isles.
The standard 19-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels are gorgeous, and the other four options, including 14-spoke 20-inchers, are nearly as pretty.
The convertible uses a triple-lined fabric top that's secure and quiet even at speeds beyond triple digits. Jaguar calls the headliner material Suedecloth, and, as they say, from the inside it's almost indistinguishable from a fixed roof. It goes down or up at the touch of a button in 18 seconds, disappearing under the bodywork behind the rear seats.
The XK looks pretty good when the top is up, not like an afterthought like some sports cars. But we think you have to really really want a convertible to give up the sleek roofline of the Coupe. We love wind in your hair and all, but paying $6000 to lose the Jaguar roofline that makes the XK such a beauty in profile, as well as from the rear, maybe especially from the rear, seems unfair to art.
The Jaguar XK interior makes it feel like the gentleman's sports car that it is. Well, gentleman's 2+2 Coupe. Its cockpit conveys luxury. If that inspires a sigh of lost love, join the club. But if the XK weren't luxurious, who would buy it, besides fans (like us) who secretly want the 1957 Jaguar XKSS, the car that started it all. There was a time when Jaguars felt more like the racing cars they used to be, at least around the edges.
Our XKR had the heated and cooled front seats with 16-way adjustment including bolstering. You can snug up the seat so that you don't slide around when you toss the Jag around corners at the G-forces that its rigid monocoque chassis and fine-tuned suspension can deliver. The twin-stitched leather is available in caramel, charcoal or ivory. Mostly, these seats are made for cruising. Ivory leather with Oyster trim and carpeting says it all. Although, ivory leather could be found in British sports cars in the '50s, too.
You are surrounded by elegant materials, especially the wood (after all it's a Jaguar), your choice among Rich Oak, Dark Oak, Burr Walnut or Ebony, depending on the model. There's also Knurled Aluminum and Dark Mesh Aluminum. We liked the aluminum more than the Rich Oak in our car. Burr Walnut is the classic.
It's easy to forget the XK has a back seat. Rear legroom is 27.6 inches, about 70 percent as much as your average back seat. But average back seats don't have 30 percent to lose, so the plus-two part is for kids only (not counting packages, but not forgetting them, either). We have two of them, 11 and 14, and they could only both fit in the XK with one in the front passenger seat moved full forward, the other behind him and complaining. Imagine that, a 14-year-old complaining that the $102,000 Jaguar he was being chauffeured around in wasn't comfortable enough for him. Good thing it was a convertible and the top was down and he didn't have to duck and squeeze to get in.
The back seat might be small, but the trunk of the convertible is large, and the storage capacity of the coupe is massive.
Finally gone is the J-gate and shift lever, replaced by the trademarked JaguarDrive Selector as introduced on the XF. It's a big shiny knob on the center console that didn't work perfectly for us. You rotate it from Park, to Reverse, Neutral, Drive and Sport. We wanted to dial it into Reverse and back up, quicker than it wanted us to, it wanted more than a flick. In Drive or Sport, you manually shift with well-shaped paddles on the steering wheel, that is slightly changed with a leather third spoke and growler badge. But we're not fans of the shift knob. It looks like navigation system controller or an iDrive.
A big red keyless starter button is on the console just ahead of the transmission selector dial. START STOP it says, and there's something alarming about it, the bright emergency redness, like it's the trigger to an ejection seat or something. It pulses like a heartbeat, weirdly. The ergonomic idea is for the transmission selector knob to pop up under your palm, immediately after you push the start button, sort of like a relay runner handing off a baton. The handshake of the new Jaguar.
The gauges and instrumentation aren't special like we would hope from Jaguar. Clean aluminum bezels, but not as simple and racy as those in, say, a Dodge Ram pickup. Definitely easy enough to read, but they don't make you say I love my Jaguar when you look at them. Although some might say that about the new white illumination, and red needles on the XKR.
The big wide center stack is mostly filled by an LCD touch-screen that's not nearly as intuitive as we would have liked. We found it difficult to operate. Radio tuning isn't easy, even after you figure it out, with too many extra steps to perform a simple function. We usually managed to get what we wanted out of the touch screen, but we didn't care for it.
The Jaguar XK features a light and stiff aluminum monocoque chassis that produces excellent handling and braking, but the latest news is that it now has the engine to match its outstanding dynamic qualities.
The new 5.0-liter V8, designed in-house unlike the previous 4.2-liter, is the 2010 XK big improvement, by cat-like leaps and bounds. The previous 4.2 has been left in the dust by the new 5.0-liter V8 that's more compact, more efficient and much more powerful, using recent advancements in engine design. The new engine is the third generation of Jaguar's AJ-V8. Jaguar, being freshly sold by Ford to India's Tata Motors in the spring of 2008, produced this engine in-house at Jaguar facilities in Coventry, England.
It's an all-aluminum 32-valve V8 featuring direct injection, independent variable cam timing, cam profile switching, and a variable geometry inlet manifold. Jaguar raises the bar, literally, with this multi-hole direct injection system that sprays pressurized fuel (up to 150 bar) dead center into the combustion chambers. The variable camshaft timing system has its own Jaguar spin, as well. And the naturally aspirated engine has inlet camshaft profile switching, changing the characteristics of the engine for the torque, power or economy that may be needed at any moment. The air intake has been totally redesigned, eliminating the supercharger whine, and also the view of the engine. All you'll find under the hood is a blank sea of black plastic. Call it progress. It works by selecting air tunnels among 14 of them, varying from 27 inches (low speeds) to 14 inches (high speeds). Progress indeed.
The engine's bottom line is an increase in horsepower of 29 percent for normally aspirated and 23 percent for supercharged; also a big increase in torque, same fuel economy, and slight reduction in CO2 emissions. In a nutshell, all of these technological advances improve throttle and/or engine response, torque, fuel economy and emissions. Not to mention horsepower, i.e. speed.
On that subject, the XKR has a new sixth-generation twin vortex supercharger, leaping with the engine, technologically speaking. Remember the buzzwords: twin vortex. The Roots-type unit uses two water-cooled intercoolers, and raises thermodynamic efficiency by 16 percent.
The specs are: 385 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque at 16/22 miles per gallon in the normally aspirated XK, and 510 horsepower with 461 pound-feet with 15/22 mpg.
The XKR can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds, boosted by that humongous 461 pound-feet of torque coming on strong at 2500 rpm; it will effortlessly reach 155 mph where it wants to keep on running but is electronically limited.
With your foot on the pedal, you will have no complaints with the normally aspirated engine making a mere 385 horsepower. Nor will you have any complaints when your foot is off the pedal, after you climb out smiling. Even the exhaust note, which Jaguar calls the sound track, has been addressed in great detail. We can't say it exactly rumbles, but Jaguar says its engineers have accentuated the acoustic feedback into the cabin in order to further enhance the driving pleasure. Intake manifold pressure pulsations are fed into an acoustic filter at the rear of the engine that's tuned to provide a crescendo at high revs. The 6800 rpm redline is some rush.
The XKR will get you past a semi-truck on a two-lane highway as quickly as almost anything on wheels that's longer than a superbike. Give or take a tenth. Since the supercharger has stopped whining, some of the thrill is gone; now it's sheer semi-silent speed. Since now you're not whooping at the whine, you can feel your jaws stretch back from the G-force of the acceleration.
The regular XK uses the same engine without the blower, and makes 385 horsepower with 380 pound-feet of torque. In addition to the miles in our test model XKR, we got good seat time in an XK, including one hot summer night run in a top-down XK over 120 miles of scarcely traveled two-lane along the Columbia River: a memorable drive. It's what you own a Jaguar for. Not once did we find 385 horsepower lacking.
If you're looking for mention of shortcomings in the XK's engine, transmission, chassis, suspension or brakes, you won't find them here.
The brakes, for example, are massive 15.7-inch rotors with six-piston calipers in front, and 13.8 inches with four-pots at the rear. If those don't stop you nothing will.
The six-speed automatic in Sport mode with paddle shifters is all you'll ever need. Shifts are sharp, quick, and on time; and there's downshift rev-matching, meaning the engine will blip for you, quite nicely. There is no manual transmission; Jaguar fans of tradition will just have to get used to today's Jaguar.
Underway, the XK feels solid, stable and planted. The XK chassis is quite stiff, a benefit of its riveted and bonded aluminum construction. This stiffness is the key to the XK's silky smooth ride and demonic cornering. Another byproduct of the stiff chassis is the steering accuracy, tight and quick but not skittish. Working with that superb chassis is double wishbone suspension front and rear. The XK has never handled better.
The latest generation of Adaptive Dynamics replaces the Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS) that offered two modes, soft and firm. The Adaptive Damping System provides continuous variable damping between those two, for ride comfort or maximum cornering on rough roads. The definition of continuous: chassis motion, including roll rate and pitch rate, is analyzed and adjusted 100 times per second. Meanwhile, wheel travel is analyzed and corrected 500 times per second.
With the Dynamic Stability Control System, the driver can choose Normal, Dynamic (formerly known as Sport), or Winter mode. Throw in Active Differential Control, the electronic version of a mechanical limited-slip differential, for more traction on snow or ice.
The 2010 Jaguar XK features a brilliant new engine, monocoque chassis, active suspension, and brakes. Sensational body, after all these years. Luxury interior. Unfortunately overly tricky JaguarDrive control on LCD display, and we don't like controlling the transmission with a knob. Rocket ship acceleration from the 510-horsepower XKR. Bottom line is that Jaguar engineers have outdone themselves, with the mechanical and electronic improvements in the powertrain.
Jaguar XK Coupe ($82,150), XK Convertible ($88,150), XKR Coupe ($95,150), XKR Convertible ($101,150).
Options As Tested
Jaguar XKR Convertible ($101,150).
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