A New Halo
Frank S. Washington, Sat, 21 Jan 2012 02:58:58 PST
DETROIT - Jaguar's 2011 XK was about as sleek as anything you're going to see on the common road. It's also the oldest car in Jaguar's new lineup which tells you something about what the British icon has been up to these last few years.
My week long test drive took place just after most of the snow had melted from a really severe winter. There were potholes everywhere, some of them deeper than others. And because street crews had yet to get to a bunch of them, loose asphalt was all over the place, too. In other word, the less than pristine roads were perfect conditions for my test drive.
The first thing I noticed is that Jaguar had done some work on XK's engine note. The exhaust was deeper and had the menacing growl that was an indication of a powerful engine under the hood.
The normally aspirated V8 produced 385 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to a six speed automatic transmission and the car could get to 60 mph from a standstill in 5.2 seconds.
This engine was exhilarating; gear shifts were precise and the car simply walked away from traffic whenever I pushed down on the accelerator. My only quibble was that there was a bit of a lag in engine response when I aggressively pushed the pedal to almost the metal. I expect that sort of response time shortened with the next Jaguar XK.
Jaguar's new midsize and full size luxury sedans give it leeway to let the XK be what it looks like; the company's contemporary successor to the fabled E Type. That means performance, excellent handling, extraordinary style and an abundance of luxury. Much of that already applied to my 2011 XK.
The engine featured spray-guided direct fuel injection and dual independent variable cam timing, plus a variable inlet manifold on the naturally aspirated version. All Jags have lightweight body shells made of pressed, cast and aluminum alloy components.
That means my XK had a rigid body that felt extremely lightweight. It seemed to me that the suspension had been deadened. By that I mean the car felt much more like a sports car than when I first drove it a couple of years ago. Over undulating roads there was no wheel jump but I could fell every crest and dip which is what you want a sports car to do.
Handling was great and I'm glad that it was. The potholes here caused me to practice avoidance driving. In addition to is styling, where the Jaguar XK really stood out was its interior. Lots of wood is a hallmark of Jaguar and the XK seemed to have a wall of walnut veneer.
The XK and XKR interiors reflect Jaguar's renowned craftsmanship and attention to luxury detail. All interiors are appointed with luxurious soft-grain leather with contrast stitching and offer a wide choice of interior color options. Wood veneers include a Rich Oak option for the XK alongside the classic Burl Walnut for both models. The XK also offers the choice of Ebony or Knurled Aluminum, while the XKR also offers Dark Oak or Dark Mesh Aluminum
Other features included Bluetooth, push button entry as well as push button start and stop, a navigation system, Bi-Xenon headlights, fold back exterior mirrors and front and rear park assist. I still think Jaguar pulled of a coup with its 525 watt Bowers and Wilkins surround sound system.
For 2011, all Jaguar models come standard with Jaguar Platinum Coverage, which includes for 5 years or 50,000 miles (whichever comes first) complimentary scheduled maintenance, no-cost replacement of basic wear and tear items including: brake pads and discs, oil and brake fluid changes and wiper blade inserts, 5 year/50,000 mile new vehicle limited warranty and 24/7 roadside assistance.
Along with its suedecloth headlining, that's what you expect when you pay $85,375 for an automobile.