Jaguar XK Coupe Test Drive

Jaguars have typically appealed to the 50-plus self-made set; pale, stumpy bores who own cleaning companies and two sets of golf clubs. This new XK is different. This is as close as Jaguar is ever likely to get to engineering a car for the new-moneyed young; brash, loud, confident and totally enigmatic – think of it as Paco Rabanne 1 Million but with an engine. Think of it, then, as the first cool Jaguar since the ’61 E-Type everyone’s hip father used to bang on about.

Jaguar XK Coupe test drive

Photo: Jaguar

The latest XK excels at destroying preconceptions. It is not a quiet and gentle tourer, and neither is it a poor man’s Aston Martin. What is it then? Loud, exotic, fiery, charismatic, coveted, divine; these are all adjectives which serve only to undersell this car. Perhaps the greatest accolade that can be bestowed is that it is alive. The steering feels alive, the exhaust sounds alive, and all the time it seems to push you further and further, encouraging you to up the risk quotient just for the hell of it. `Go on . .faster . .louder . . it’s fine’, it seems to say. Pulling out to overtake one car becomes a blood-curdling thrill ride as it hangs in the adjacent lane for longer and longer at a time, past six cars, seven, eight, then back in.

Jaguar XK Performance and Sound

The audacious exhaust vocal works best as street entertainment. Popping the throttle open in the center of town for a fraction of a second is enough to startle old people and turn the heads of hundreds. Children grab their parents for security and stare and point; adults turn their heads and look across with jealous scorn. These are all desirable effects of course, and the reaction is understandable.

Why do so many luxury makers bother to offer their top cars with a V8, then go to all the trouble of masking the noise and vibration? Jaguar decided to let their 5-liter block breath freely, and it is intrinsic to the personality of the car. It shouts and screams and demands attention like a drunken but charismatic reveler at an otherwise-sedate cocktail party. It is riotous and more than a little risque, but there is no way that it can be forgotten or disliked; Jaguar’s take on the V8 theme is an enchanting and beautifully rendered oil painting among run-of-the-mill scribbles and black-and-white `to do’ lists.

Jaguar XK Practicality and Ownership

Are there any drawbacks to the XK? Yes, of course, but the car’s breadth of ability goes so far as to render them negligible. Almost.

There are three points of concern. First, the car squirms some under braking, and the front end follows ridges and compressions on bad roads. There is also some noticeable fidget from the front above 120 mph, but this is not something the driver is likely to notice on the commute from Dusit to Silom.

Lastly, the fuel consumption is fairly horrific. Jaguar is claiming 8.8 kilometers per liter, which in the car’s own dashboard language translates to 25 miles per gallon. This sounds reasonable, but achieving over 22 mpg requires some proper concentration. Use any of the firepower, the economy will drop to halfway.

The B&W audio is best switched off in traffic, as the exhaust note makes for much more stimulating aural sensation when moving slowly. The XK grumbles like a caged animal, and a little prod of the loud pedal is like poking the beast with a stick. It rears and shouts and beats its chest, all seemingly to attract the attention of any passers-by. Its a very difficult car to drive quietly.

Think of this car as Daniel Craig in Casino Royale; sharp-suited and well spoken, but an icy-cold killing machine underneath. This is an object which tugs on the heart strings, but crucially pushes the right logic buttons too. It is all things at all times; companion, colleague, mistress, servant.

Reading an endless string of superlatives can be quite tiresome, so sometimes it is best to state an unambiguous fact. Put simply, relative to cost the Jaguar XK is the most complete grand tourer in the world.