Used Jaguar XK review: 1996-2012
January 21, 2013
Modestly priced for what it is, the Jaguar XK is a sleek and powerful grand tourer. Two body types are offered, a closed coupe and a convertible, the latter using a soft-top in the traditional manner, which suits us as folding hardtops don’t have the same pure feeling as a rag-top.
The XK series was reintroduced to Australia in October 1996 after an absence of many years. It sold well immediately and these older cars are available for pretty reasonable prices on the used market.
Having said that, our preference is for the new model launched in May 2007 as it’s considerably lighter than the older car due to its all-aluminium body. The shape of the Jaguar XK, from the nose with its big, oval opening, to the raised, rounded tail is borrowed from the famous Jaguar E-Type and works exceptionally well.
The dashboard uses a traditionally styled, timber-faced design that's flatter than is normal these days. Yet with its smallish, round instruments and low-set face it looks just right in these big British sports machines.
Naturally these Jaguars come with the usual leather-and-wood trimmed interiors, and a choice of standard and sports variants. Power comes from a V8 engine, interestingly, the first engine of this configuration ever used in a Jaguar as the company had made its name building gorgeous straight sixes.
Initially the V8 had a 4.0-litre capacity. That was raised to 4.2 litres when the engine was heavily revised in 2002. Further changes with the new model of 2007 improved the 4.2 again.
The powerplant to go for if your budget will stand the strain is the 5.0-litre V8 first imported to Australia in January 2010. Continuing the modern tradition the 5.0 powerplant is offered in natural or supercharged aspiration.
Jaguar V8s have that certain sound and feel that appeals to car enthusiasts the world over. At the top of the performance tree sits the ‘Jaguar XKR with R features’. With semi-race suspension, Brembo brakes and a big emphasis on very serious motoring it’s a car to dream about from a Jaguar enthusiast’s point of view.
Considerably more expensive than even the standard XKR they weren't a huge sales success in Australia, probably because of our too-low speed limits. Handling is good, without being outstanding in its road grip. Generally these cars are fine on Australian roads, but aren't always happy on the really rough stuff.
Try it for yourself if you live in an outlying region. Jaguar XK8s used a five-speed automatic transmission until the 2002 revamp and a six-speed auto from then onwards. The older automatics use Jaguar's clever J-gate mechanism to allow a fair degree of 'manual' control over it.
Good as that system was in its day it feels a bit old fashioned when compared to the latest generation of tiptronic-type automatics. Some bemoan the lack of a manual option in a sportscar, but Jaguar’s market research had shown fewer than five percent of buyers would have opted for it.
Insurance isn't as expensive as you might expect given the performance nature of the car. Provided, that is, you have a good driving record and live in an area where theft is seldom a problem. Ask about any extra charges for the supercharged variants.
The dealer network in Australia is long established and operates efficiently. Spare parts aren't cheap, but are in line with the purchase price of the car. Better built and more reliable than older Jaguars, the latest Jaguar XK models are complex cars and servicing and repairs should be left to the professionals.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
A professional inspection should be regarded as essential. You may wish to do some initial checks to save racking up too many inspection bills. Be sure the engine starts promptly, idles smoothly and does not blow smoke from the exhaust when the big Jag is accelerated hard.
Be sure the automatic transmission goes into gear within about a second of the selector being moved into Drive or Reverse. Check the ‘manual-gearbox’ functions work correctly.
Look for rust in the lower areas of the body. It is not normal but can be expensive to repair. At the same time look for signs of previous crash repairs, such as mismatched paint or ripples in the finish.
Look at the condition of the trim, carpets, dash-top and other interior fittings, particularly in a convertible. If you notice any water stains on the convertible’s seats ask the seller to remove the carpets so you can check under them.
A genuine Jaguar battery should be fitted as other units may not provide enough power and the electrical relays may not work.
CAR BUYING TIP
Few sportscars are driven in the manner their designers intended, but are actually used as look-at-me cruisers - no marks for guessing which is likely to be the better buy.
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4968 mm
Wheelbase: 2760 mm
Width: 1786 mm
Height: 1402 mm
Turning Circle: 11.0 metres
Kerb Mass: 1695 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 66/8 litres
SUSPENSION AND BRAKES:
Front Suspension: Three link, coil springs, gas shocks
Rear Suspension: Multi link independent, coil springs, gas shocks
Front Brakes: Disc
Rear Brakes: Disc
0-100 km/h Acceleration: 7.8 seconds
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 8.3 L/100km
GREEN VEHICLE GUIDE RATINGS:
Greenhouse Rating: 7/10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5 /10