2014 Jaguar XK Introduction

Timeless and stylish, the Jaguar XK traces its roots to 1948 with the XK120. As its name suggests, the XK120 was capable of 120 mph, quite a feat for its day. The first XK was sporty, stylish and classy. Clark Gable drove one. Today's Jaguar XK is stylish and classy, sporty and capable of very high speeds. As with earlier XKs, it comes in coupe and convertible versions.

The 2014 Jaguar XK lineup starts with the Jaguar XK Touring Coupe and Jaguar XK Touring Convertible. Far from basic, the entry-level Touring models come slathered in leather upholstery with heated front sport seats, satellite radio, rearview camera and parking sensors. One step up are the Jaguar XK Coupe and XK Convertible models, which are more luxurious with an even higher grade of leather, more seat adjustments and upgraded audio.

Jaguar XK models are powered by a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 385 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy is an EPA-rated 16/24 mpg City/Highway for the XK Coupe, 16/22 mpg for the XK Convertible.

Jaguar XKR models feature a supercharged version of the same engine, with 510 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque. Jaguar XKR-S Coupe and XKR-S Convertible feature a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine that churns out a breathtaking 550 horsepower and has a top speed of 186 miles per hour, making the XKR-S the fastest production Jag ever. A true leaper, an XKR-S can leap from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds, according to Jaguar. The supercharged XKR and XKR-S coupe and convertible models are EPA-rated 15/22 mpg.

New for 2014 is a range-topping XKR-S GT Coupe. Using the same 550-horsepower 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine as the XKR-S coupe and convertible, the $174,000 GT offers and features enhanced aerodynamics and suspension tuning. Acceleration performance is quicker, with Jaguar claiming 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds. Fat chance getting your hands on one, though, as only 25 units of the 2014 Jaguar XKR-S GT coupe will come to the U.S. They will be as rare as hen's teeth.

In our test drives, we found all the Jaguar XK models solid and stable, even at very high speeds. The 385-hp V8 has plenty of power, while the supercharged versions move the XKR into supercar territory. All Jaguar XK models come with a 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters, which we found smooth and tight with rev-matching downshifting.

Ride quality is tough to fault, with an Adaptive Damping System automatically adjusting for ride comfort when cruising along or tightening it down for hard cornering. The more powerful XKR is easy to get out of hand, especially in the more aggressive Dynamic mode, and requires driving with care and respect. All variants of the XK are relatively heavy, but a stiff chassis and precision driving dynamics do a good job handling the weight.

The Jaguar XK runs against tough company, but manages to offer plenty of horsepower and refinement for the money. The BMW 6 Series Coupe is a few thousand dollars less than the XK Touring coupe and boasts classic 50/50 weight distribution, but the BMW has neither the character nor the statement of luxury and exotic sports car that the Jaguar offers. For a few thousand more, you could score a base Porsche 911, if such a thing exists, but forget about any options, unless you want to tack thousands on to the sticker price. Exotics such as the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Audi R8, Maserati GranTurismo Coupe, and Nissan GT-R start in the middle price-wise between the XK and the XKR-S models.

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