From the Trunk: 2011 Jaguar XK

Jaguar managed to tame this ferocious feline enough for comfortable around-town cruising. It’s up to you to un-tame it. Prepare for a heavy dose of cat scratch fever; this is the Jaguar XK.

This article is from the LACar vault written by long-time contributor John Grafman. Enjoy this flashback to the past.

2011 Jaguar XK specs

Price$89,000 Base, $89,875 as tested
Engine5.0L V8
Horsepower385 hp @ 6,500 RPM
Torque380 lb.-ft. @ 3,500 RPM
Drive ConfigurationFront engine, rear wheel drive
0-60 mph5.3 seconds
Top Speed155 mph
Transmission6-speed automatic with paddles and sport settings
Gas Mileage16 City / 22 Highway
Jaguar XK. Car shown is from 2007-2008, but went largely unchanged up to 2011. Photo courtesy of Jaguar.
Jaguar XK. Car shown is from 2007-2008, but went largely unchanged up to 2011. Photo courtesy of Jaguar.

My inquisitive friend sitting in the passenger side of the Jaguar XK Convertible wants me to answer a question that really isn’t as simple as it sounds. Looking at the passenger door panel, he comments on the need to have three memory settings on the passenger side.

I’m old school when it comes to passenger seat memory settings. It just seems unwarranted. Nevertheless, this allows a driver and a significant other to swap the car and tailor the seat position, and lock it in. I understand that. So, is the third memory setting on the passenger side for the mistress? Hmmm.

Jaguar XK. Car shown is from 2007-2008, but went largely unchanged up to 2011. Photo courtesy of Jaguar.
Jaguar XK. Car shown is from 2007-2008, but went largely unchanged up to 2011. Photo courtesy of Jaguar.

One setting is a welcome feature, and two is more than enough for most, so why three? This goes back to the very nature of this car, and maybe the genre of cars the Jaguar fits into.

Nowadays even lowly cars that cost $25K or less have some great features, and as the numbers approach $60K most anything one would want can be included at that price point. So, once any car breaches that magic number it has to really offer something exclusive, something really desirable, or in the case of the additional memory settings, a feature you simply won’t need.

Jaguar XK. Car shown is from 2007-2008, but went largely unchanged up to 2011. Photo courtesy of Jaguar.
Jaguar XK. Car shown is from 2007-2008, but went largely unchanged up to 2011. Photo courtesy of Jaguar.

This isn’t meant to make light of the sophistication the Jag offers, but merely to point out that at nearly $90,000 one would at least hope for something really neat like a hall pass to use the car pool lane, or a get out of jail free card. With the 385 horsepower, eight-cylinder under hood, and a healthy growl that begs to be driven fast, the get out of jail free card could be very welcomed indeed.

A feature that’s much more useful is the center console display. The touch screen is a little difficult to use while in motion, as it is necessary to actually look and touch exactly what you want, but it does group all major functions in the smallish display. It also works with an iPhone simply enough, but it’s inherent complexity while operating the car takes some of the fun out of this. More frustration is the graphical layout, which is tricky to decipher while motoring. In a perfect world one could delete or at least dim down operations that aren’t required, and symbols should be used in place of words, so identification can be done in a blink.

Jaguar XK. Car shown is from 2007-2008, but went largely unchanged up to 2011. Photo courtesy of Jaguar.
Jaguar XK. Car shown is from 2007-2008, but went largely unchanged up to 2011. Photo courtesy of Jaguar.

On the flip side the nav system has a very easy to use map, as the computer really does a great job of guessing what street you want and the city, thereby eliminating additional typing.

The XK does actually feature plenty of welcomed gizmos that range from the Bluetooth technology, and smart key entry and start, to heated and cooled soft grain leather front seats. There are assorted other, less noticeable bits, like the adaptive headlamps that turn as the steering does, which simply make this an easy time behind the wheel.

The effortless to use one touch convertible top is almost perfect, and exactly what this Jag needs. It would be nice to have the control button on the center console as opposed to on the windshield header, which passing motorists occasionally misinterpreted as giving the them the bird. Well, if the shoe fits…

Jaguar XK. Car shown is from 2007-2008, but went largely unchanged up to 2011. Photo courtesy of Jaguar.
Jaguar XK. Car shown is from 2007-2008, but went largely unchanged up to 2011. Photo courtesy of Jaguar.

With the top upright, the interior feels a bit confining, and due to the short side glass height, it’s hard to find a sweet spot in seating. Either the seats are too high, leading to close quarters with the top, or the seating is too low in relation to the side doorsill. But, this is California, and the top is stowed nine days out of ten, so we really don’t give too much weight to that in these parts of the woods.

Top down driving is really what this car is built for. The 2011 coupe is still very swoopy, yet it’s clearly a far cry from its 60’s brethren. The convertible shares a low-slung, sex appeal that’s hard to deny. The interior accommodations in this century lean more to luxury. But, the spirit of sport lies in the wind. The romance that is Jaguar is still a part of the XK.

Jaguar XK. Car shown is from 2007-2008, but went largely unchanged up to 2011. Photo courtesy of Jaguar.
Jaguar XK. Car shown is from 2007-2008, but went largely unchanged up to 2011. Photo courtesy of Jaguar.

While the spirit is undoubtedly there, the styling in the interior is hard to differentiate as that of a Jaguar. While there are cues, what we see here today is a thoroughly modern car, and the days of toggle switches are long gone. Alas, going forward means leaving something behind. However, don’t be too sad, this is still extremely pleasant. And for those that long for the past, well let me tell you, the sixties never had electric adjustable side seat bolsters to keep you glued in place when the action gets going.

The Jaguar XK does have a number of points that it falls short on, including excessive length, poor fuel economy, nominal truck space and a rear seat that seems small even by Mini Cooper standards.

So, has the big cat reached the end of its nine lives? Hardly. This is a smooth and powerful GT plus 2. At no time does one feel less than alive behind the wheel. The torque curve pushes one back into the seat as if to make a point. This isn’t rough around the edges, yet it doesn’t pussy foot about either. It has distinction. And the five-liter motor does rumble in a way that might say muscle-car, and it does back up that note with performance. It compels the driver to play with this kitty more often than one should.

Jaguar XK. Car shown is from 2007-2008, but went largely unchanged up to 2011. Photo courtesy of Jaguar.
Jaguar XK. Car shown is from 2007-2008, but went largely unchanged up to 2011. Photo courtesy of Jaguar.

I’m not totally sure why this garners my love the way it does. Perhaps it’s a combination of elements; the leather, the push-me-harder drive quality, appealing design, or the techno-gadgets. I can’t help but think it’s something else, maybe something that wafts in with the wind, call it spirit. It’s not really a tangible, however a few hours or days driving this and the feeling is undeniable. The whole is greater that the sum of its parts. This is what makes this something special. That, and of course an extra seat memory setting or two.

 

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