Don’t blink, or you’ll miss the ever-so-subtle facelift that identifies the latest Jaguar XK Convertible: reprofiled front bumpers, mirrors with integrated LED indicators, new rear valance, LED tail lights and colour-coded side vents. A bit less subtle is the direct-injection 5.0-litre V8, up from 4.2 litres and with matching respective 26% and 23% boosts to power and torque. Put simply, the new XK pollutes less than the old 4.2 and matches it for economy, but it’s about as quick as the old supercharged XKR.
Blimey - this new Jaguar XK Convertible sounds quick. It must be expensive then.
This thing is way faster than it looks, especially in the golf-sweater blue with slacks-cream leather trim of our test car, but go for standard spec and you’re looking at Merc SL350 money (the Merc’s a mere V6). Even in swanky top-spec Portfolio trim it undercuts the SL500 (a good match for power and torque; Jag beats Merc on economy and emissions) by more than six grand. Jaguar’s carrying on in the old E-type tradition of offering speed and sex appeal to die for without charging the most for it.
So, how does it drive then?
Depends how you want it to drive. There’s a new XF-style cylindrical gear selector that rises from the centre console when you hit the Start button. Turn it to D and you’ll waft around in the torque-heavy Jag tradition, accompanied by a surprisingly strident and characterful V8 soundtrack, that’s been specially engineered-in. There’s ample go, but the auto-box tends to avoid shifting down unless you’re really insistent, preferring instead to suggest that you simply rely on that flow of torque.
Fancy more oomph? Shift the selector clockwise to S, so the new six-speeder is more inclined to kickdown and will hang on to gears much longer, allowing you to better control your approach to bends. And if it’s still not sharp enough, reach for the excellent paddles instead and do it yourself.
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Does it have the trad Jag ride?
Like the XF, the XK is surprisingly firm over the tarmac. Never uncomfortable or jarring, just not soft. The steering is direct and quite light, not over-burdened with feel but possessed of clarity and linearity. And it’s perfect for making the type of swift yet relaxed GT-style progress that all the best Jags are famous for.
But there’s a Dynamic Mode, accessed by a chequered flag switch on the centre console. Hit this and the whole caboodle tightens and tautens, meaning there’s a proper B-road attack on the cards any time an appropriate road presents itself.
With the gearbox in S, it feels a perfectly natural way to travel, even when you’re at a high-speed cruise on an A-road. The ride’s a touch firmer as a result, but the damping’s tauter to match. Basically, the Jag does the Jag things really well and offers an extra touch of German-style sports car-ness too.
And what about the Jag luxury thing?
Goes without saying. In Portfolio spec, you get stitched leather over every interior surface, textured aluminium dash panels and an ebony centre console. It strikes a balance in ambience between the overt modernity of the XF and the outgoing XJ’s more homely splendours.
Mod cons are all present, including a highly effective touch-screen sat-nav, heated/chilled seats and a heated steering wheel too (perfect for top-down canters on a chilly spring day). The seats adjust electrically in all sorts of ways (even the bolsters can squeeze you pneumatically), and the 525-watt B&W stereo sounds unnaturally natural.
I’m about two decades too young to lust after an XK. In theory, anyway. Fact is, I love it. It certainly works better than a 911 soft-top and it’s much more endearing than an SL. It’s difficult to describe a 70-grand car as good value but, fact is, this car feels as if it’s built like a Merc, finished like a Bentley, and offers a bit of an Aston experience for at least 20 grand less. Almost a bargain, then.
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