Jaguar has announced that the XK will cease production in summer 2014. The Ian Callum-penned coupe and convertible models, which have jointly sold more than 54,000 units since arriving in 2006, have been canned with no direct replacement in the pipeline.
Instead, Jaguar is plotting a stunning £110,000 flagship to rival the Aston Martin DB9 and Bentley Continental GT. The new flagship Jag will be a proper 2+2 seater, taking the fight to the grand-tourer big boys from Britain, Germany, and Italy.
Why has Jaguar axed the XK?
It’s been usurped by the cheaper, faster F-type Coupe. For only £85,000, F-type R Coupe buyers bag exactly the same 542bhp supercharged V8 found in the the XKR-S – which costs £97,485 before options. And with an even more hardcore F-type R-S– inspired by the one-off Project 7 concept – mooted, it’s time for the XK to bow out.
It is eight years old after all – very long in the tooth for such a fashion-conscious segment. Of course, that’s just the second-gen XK – the name belonged first to a curvy coupe and cabriolet in the 1990s which replaced the ancient XJS. In its best-ever year, the 1990s XK racked up a mighty 15,000 annual sales. With the sexy new F-type stealing the headlines, sales of the current car have dried up to around 4000 at the moment. Hardly shameful for an old car, but Jaguar's been burned before by leaving a car on sale too long and suffering the poor brand perception that follows...
So Jaguar’s going after Bentley?
Among five new Jaguars slated for 2014 and beyond is a new range-topper. The idea is to stretch the F-type’s aluminium platform into an elegant four-seater coupe. If the car is to seriously challenge cars like the Aston DB9, Bentley Continental GT and Ferrari California T, a soft-top version will be a necessity.
The life and times of the Jaguar XK
During its eight-year lifespan, the outgoing XK has morphed from a 4.2-litre, 300bhp cooking model to the balls-out 5.0-litre XKR-S GT, with 542bhp grunt, a roll-caged cabin, Jaguar’s first application of ceramic brakes and a lairy carbonfibre aero package producing a claimed 145kg of downforce. Originally, the XK was a £59k coupe; the ultimate GT model retailed for a massive £135,000, with only 30 units being produced. My, how you’ve grown…
The 4.2-litre V8 drivetrain was a carryover from the Mk1 XK8, which was sold from 1996-2006. All versions were capable of 155mph, and had their V8s mated to either five-speed, or (later) six-speed automatic gearboxes.
Two special edition XK variants are now available as a goodbye nod to the outgoing car. The XK Dynamic R take a standard 503bhp XKR and adds massively stiffer XKR-S suspension, a 10mm ride height drop, and bodykit extensions from the ‘Speed Pack’.
This also grants the top speed limiter a sense of humour, upping the limit from 155mph to 174mph. You’ll pay £69,950 for the XK Dynamic R – a massive £9015 cheaper than the XKR it effectively replaces for the remainder of the XK’s life-cycle.
Sound a bit hardcore? The other Jaguar XK special edition is the XK Signature. Based on the more sedate 380bhp XK coupe (which uses a naturally aspirated version of the 5.0-litre V8), the Signature spec is an exercise in cramming in extra kit.
For £54,950, (£10,545 than you’d have paid for a less well-equipped XK a few months ago) buyers get every option box ticked, from 20in alloy wheels and top-spec diamond-quilted leather inside to a standard-fit reversing camera. The only decisions left for the customer is whether to spec the coupe or soft-top, and which new colour shade to opt for.
>> Will the XK be remembered fondly among the best Jaguars? Add your epitaph to the big Jag by clicking ‘Add your comment’ below