Road Test: 2009 Jaguar XK Coupe
The sleek, powerful cat named Jaguar is back and it has brought all the style and luxury you expect. Those that gripe about luxury cars that have become so homogenized that they are virtually indistinguishable from high-end sedans haven't seen the athletic beauty of the Jaguar XK coupe that almost perfectly defines powerful, extravagant. Think of the Jaguar XK as the high-end model with perfect bones and Olympic-style athletic ability.
This year's Jaguar XK coupe is built from aluminum and powered by two all-new direct injection 32-valve, 4.3-liter engine with camshaft phasing that quickens response. This car - with a host of upgraded features for 2009 - is something like the automotive world's answer to the yacht.
Jaguar is banking on the new XK's beauty and driving experience to revitalize its brand and serve as the premiere car in its line. One test drive in this dynamic beauty, that catches eyes wherever it goes, and you understand why that plan will likely work.
2009 Jaguar XK Exterior
The first thing you'll notice about the XK is its flowing lines and muscular shoulders.
Not only does the front-end design have a classic long hood, but it adds an extra touch of opulence with a low grille with new black-finished mesh plus chrome outboard intakes. The muscular front, sweeping lines, and bold end are truly distinctive. Other auto reviewers have likened the design to the legendary E-Type sports cars of the 1960s and 1970s. Now let's be honest - when you buy a high-end brand you want it to be distinctive so you look for those indicators. You'll find plenty of logos to indicate the XK's proud heritage including on the twin seven-spoke wheels and trunk lid drop panel.
But the exterior also has a very utilitarian function; the car's aluminum panels are 40% lighter and 60% stiffer than steel panels. That adds to the acceleration and aerodynamics of the car, which means an aggressive driving stance can be handled with ease.
2009 Jaguar XK Interior
It's tough to imagine a more luxurious, modern interior than is found in the Jaguar XK. Plush hardly does justice to the full soft grain leather seats with 18x14-way adjustable seats. You'll likely find some auto reviewers saying long rides in the cars are a bit tough on the middle-aged lower back of a driver or passenger. I found the front driver and passenger seat very comfortable, but I will note that the back seats are clearly for children or very small people. I can't imagine any average sized adult sitting in those seats for more than a quick drive around the block. Sitting low in the interior is something akin to what I'd imagine it's like to sit in the cockpit of a jet -- safe, secure, and high tech.
Adding to the modern feel is the pulsing blue illuminated stop/start button, the rotating fascia vents, which silently open when the engine is engaged and blue interior mood lighting. Those that want an extra splurge can opt for the Portfolio model which includes details such as contrast stitching on leather trim, Jaguar Suedecloth Premium headlining, deep-pile carpet mats with contrast edging and embroidered logos, and ventilated heated and cooled seats.??
I loved the intuitive controls including a seven-inch touch screen that allows you to control climate, audio, navigation, message center, Bluetooth and other technology. The steering wheel in the car I test drove had cruise, telephone and audio controls conveniently placed.
2009 Jaguar XK Performance
Quite honestly, I've never had a smoother, more powerful drive than I did in the XK Coupe. Whether I was driving on the highway or on back roads, this Jaguar ate up the miles smoothly. Road noise was minimal as were any vibrations. Jaguar credits the car's eCats computer active ride control, which automatically adjusts shock damper setting to improve stability and respond to driving style.
Also, this car's electronically controlled differential and suspension system work together to optimize traction under hard acceleration and cornering. I certainly felt that traction work on rain swept roads, which the car handled with ease without ever making me feel out of control.
Braking was smooth and sure thanks to the TracDSC stability control and electronic brake force distribution, which reads the road varies stopping force at each wheel.
You'll likely find some reviews that called acceleration in this model disappointing. It's important to keep in mind those reviews are generally written by auto engineers and experts that are on test tracks. In everyday driving I found the acceleration - thanks to the 420 horsepower engine - more than ample. I used the six-speed automatic transmission without shifting into manual mode for the two-wheel drive, but I would have done so if I needed more power.
The EPA rates this car at 15 mpg in city traffic and 23 mpg on the highway. If you think that's low, you haven't looked at ratings lately; that's actually much higher than some small suvs and sedans.
2009 Jaguar XK Safety
The car feels safe and it is thanks to a host of features.
One of my favorites is the rear parking aid with touch-screen visual indicators, which really does help see out of this very low-slung car. A tire-pressure monitoring system, security system with perimeter alarm, TRAC dynamic stability control, and an array of airbags are some of the other safety features.
Some of the safety features you'll never see - or hopefully need. That includes anti-intrusion bars that protect occupants in case of side impact and a whiplash reduction system.
Other safety features are there but 'silent.'? That includes the cruise control, which is especially designed to adjust for inclement weather. The Bi-Xenon headlamps are 'active'? with corner lamps, dynamic leveling, automatic on/off and even a power wash feature. The safety feature comes in when the car rounds corners and the headlamps shift, offering properly directed lights.
Of course all this luxury isn't inexpensive. The MSRP for the XK starts at just over $77,000. In this case, though, you get more than your money's worth.