Jaguar XK 2006 Review
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The British brand tried for a breakthrough with its luxury XJ flagship but looks to have the real deal with its new XK sporties.
This is not the return of the classic E-Type. The new Coupe and Convertible are much more than just a remix of old ideas and old parts.
The design is smooth and modern, the packaging is good, the performance is classy and the cars are finally being built to world quality standards, not just an outdated British idea of classic construction.
It takes only a couple of kilometres in a new XK to see and feel that Jaguar - running hard under the direction of Australian CEO Geoff Polites - has a winner.
The car is a total package that delivers on all its promises. It still has a classic Jaguar look and feel, but the XK has been brought into the 21st century with the equipment to finally go head-to-head with pacesetters from Mercedes-Benz, BMW and the rest.
"The XK is critical for Jaguar," Polites says matter of factly.
He is right. The XK has to prove to Jaguar's owners at Ford that it has the right stuff to drive the company forward.
The new XK was designed by Ian Callum, who wanted to head Jaguar design from his boyhood, and he has delivered a modern take on a classic car and shape.
The newcomers are not radical, but they are instantly recognisable as Jaguars and are a lot more successful than the previous XK.
British car fans will love the shape, though they may take time to adjust to the minimalist cabin. It still has classic Jaguar touches, and can be ordered with dark wood and green leather, but looks best as a piece of modern design in light colours and lighter timbers.
Jaguar says the XKs are "the first of a new generation of beautiful, fast Jaguars".
They made the running with an all-aluminium construction Jaguar claims is the most rigid body in the class, with stiffness up 50 per cent in the droptop. Using a 4.2-litre Jaguar V8 producing 224kW the XK has a 0-100km/h sprint time of 5.9 seconds.
The XK picks up a new six-speed automatic with sequential manual change, and the outdated J-Gate shifter from the 1980s has finally been dumped.
The new cats will be in Australia before the end of this month, when Jaguar Cars Australia will confirm final specifications and prices.
ON THE ROAD
A cold wet and wintry day is not the best time to drive the new cat Convertible. Even if it is what passes as a spring morning in the British Midlands.
The XK convertible looks smooth but fires with a grumpy, solid exhaust note that hints at more than just lazy cruising pace. It was specially tuned to convey the sound of speed.
The Jaguar cracks away from a standing start with real purpose and, finally, does not feel like a British speedboat.
That's been a problem with XKs back to the XJS in the 1980s. The cars always felt as if they were skating over the road and not digging down for grip and go.
The new XK feels like one piece and all together, solid like a good German car.
Cabin quality is good, the controls are solid and work well, and the seats are comfy.
The convertible roof works well and there is little buffeting or noise at Australian highway speeds, but the new cat is not a particularly quiet drive on rumbly British bitumen.
It's called a 2+2 but the rear end is cramped and we wonder about things like usable boot space, fuel economy and suspension tuning for Down Under roads.
It will take a home-track run to see if the car works as well in Australia, but the first impression is good. Very good.
Range and Specs
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data