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COVENTRY CLASS (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Introductionword count: 73
Jaguar's XK luxury sportscar got a smart update in 2011, perfecting it into the model it should always have been. There were styling tweaks, more equipment and high quality trim, plus as before, buyers got a choice of gorgeous-sounding 5.0-litre V8 powerplants. As a used buy, whether your preference is for coupe or convertible, it still has a sense of occasion missing from its German rivals and remains a Grand Tourer par excellence.
Modelsword count: 9
2dr Coupe / Convertible [5.0 V8, 5.0 Supercharged V8]
Historyword count: 317
The Jaguar XK. A very British luxury sportscar and a model that epitomises its brand. The letters X and K are in fact an integral part of Jaguar's heritage. Over sixty years ago, the company redefined the sportscar with its 1948 XK, a car that offered beauty, Grand Touring panache and effortless performance. The Coventry marque has been bringing us pretty much the same sort of thing ever since, perhaps most notably with the XK's successor, the legendary E-Type, launched in 1961 and badged the 'XKE' over in the US. This was exactly the kind of thing a Jaguar sportscar should be: massively rewarding when you were in the mood: massively relaxing when you weren't. Successive XJS and XK8 models in 1975 and 1996 failed to replicate it and it was only when the XK we're looking at here was originally launched in 2006 that commentators could once again start to talk about a Jaguar sportscar in the same breath as cars like Porsche's 911. That said, the truth is that the XK took a while to get into its stride. The original version wasn't quick enough as a 4.2-litre V8, despite its supposedly lightweight aluminium underpinnings. Nor was it dynamic enough as a supercharged XKR. Hence the 2009 introduction of a 380bhp 5.0-litre V8 for base models, supercharged to 510bhp for a sharper XKR version. It all made a big difference - but more work was needed yet. By 2012 with a new, more affordable Jaguar sportscar, the F-TYPE, on the horizon, the XK needed a subtle up-market upgrade to maintain its position as the brand's sporting flagship. So the looks were sharpened, the cabin smartened and an even quicker XKR-S variant added in at the top of the range, the fastest car the company had ever made. The changes were enough to sustain the XK to the end of its production life in early 2015.
What You Getword count: 707
Be honest: you want one don't you? You probably wouldn't be reading this otherwise. The dramatic seductively sweeping curves of the bodywork are supposed to have been inspired by those of actress Kate Winslet - according at least to stylist Ian Callum. This was his first Jaguar design and it was also the first of the brand's cars to feature the aluminium construction supposed to make this model 30% stiffer and 100kgs lighter than its XK8 predecessor. You wouldn't know this of course from looking at the shapely profile - and to be frank, you wouldn't guess the fact from looking at the stats either: this car's 1.7-tonne kerb weight makes it no lighter than a rival Mercedes SL and that car has to carry a heavy metal-folding roof. Still, forget the facts: just revel in the contemporary fusion of power, style and uncompromised luxury which, according to Jaguar, is what we have here. It certainly looks an assured piece of work, with the oval front grille and the way the rear cabin tapers in over the haunches both classic E-Type-inspired touches. Even the front badge is a nod to that illustrious sports coupe. The car looks sinewy and muscular, the sheet metal stretched over something seriously purposeful. Not that the whole look didn't benefit from refreshment throughout the XK model's lifetime - as you'd expect given a spell on the market that dated between 2006 and 2015. The 2012 model year wash 'n brush-up we're focusing on here saw the adoption of slimmer front headlamps that incorporated LED signal functions and running lights. Combined with a larger grille and a sleeker bumper design, this all gave the XK a bit more 'rear view mirror' recognition. XKR-specific bits include a more aggressive colour-keyed front bumper that, if not quite as extreme as the one you get on an XKR-S, is certainly menacing enough to scatter fast lane dawdlers as you bear down upon them, incorporating tall air intakes on each side that complement potent side power vents and old-school bonnet louvers. As you walk round the car, you glimpse 'R'-logo-ed brake callipers peeping out through enormous 20-inch 'SUPERCHARGER'-branded alloy wheels, while below the LED lamps at the back, the post-2011 XKR models feature a revised lower valance. Opt for a Convertible XK or XKR and you'll find that like Porsche and BMW - but unlike Mercedes - Jaguar has opted for a fabric roof, the triple-layered hood rising or falling in under 18seconds and slotting neatly beneath an aluminium tonneau cover when not in use. You'd expect the rag top approach to facilitate a larger boot than would be possible on a metal folding topped rival like Mercedes' MK6 SL. In fact, the XK lags a little behind the 364-litres available from its Stuttgart competitor. Still at least the 313-litres you get from the XK Convertible is only 17-litres less than you'd get from the Coupe. And that's almost three times what you'd get from a Porsche 911 Cabriolet from this era, enough to make the difference between pleasant packing into conventional suitcases for a weekend break and uncomfortable cramming of your designer clothes into squashy bags. Inside the wonderful snug yet spacious leather and alcantara-clad cabin, owners of earlier XK models will notice that the fit, finish and choice of materials of the post-2011 version is noticeably more up-market - once they've adjusted to the replacement of the original XK's J-gate auto gear lever with a neat rotary JaguarDrive Selector. It rises up into the palm of your hand after you press a Start button that pulses red on the centre console while around you, the dashboard illuminates and the cabin features are highlighted in a cool phosphor blue. At the same time, the 7-inch colour touchscreen that dominates the centre of the dash lights up, controlling satellite navigation, climate control, Bluetooth 'phone functionality and in-car audio. Around it, dark wood veneer and aluminium trim supply the necessary sporting ambience and electric adjustment of both seat and steering wheel mean it's easy to find the ideal driving position. Behind you, all models offer a couple of occasional small child-orientated seats that'll doubtless be more usually be used for the carriage of designer jackets or shopping bags.
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