It's the car that defines Jaguar - the iconic XK symbolizes elegance, prestige and style.
While there's stiff competition in the luxury sports car category, the new-generation 2010 Jaguar XK is a potent threat - thanks to a pair of brand new V-8 engines, some innovative technology and a redesigned interior and exterior.
There are two models: the XK and XKR. Both are available in a two-door coupe and two-door convertible.
But be warned - the price is steep. The XK coupe starts at $96,500; the XK convertible at $103,200. The high-performance, 510-hp XKR coupe will set you back even more, $107,000, while the XKR convertible costs $114,000.
The biggest change on the XK is the all-new engines; the engineers boast these are the most advanced engines Jaguar has produced.
The naturally aspirated, 5.0-litre, direct-injection V-8 and the supercharged version deliver increased power and torque with reduced emissions and better fuel economy than the outgoing models.
The naturally aspirated XK coupe delivers 385 hp and 380 lb-ft - that's 28 and 23 per cent more than its 4.2-litre predecessor. The new supercharged XKR gets a whopping 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque -a 21 and 12 per cent boost over the outgoing supercharged 4.2-litre engine.
As a result, acceleration has improved significantly. The XK coupe does 0-100 km/h in 5.5 seconds versus 6.2 seconds for the 2009 model. The XKR coupe performs the same feat in only 4.8 seconds versus 5.2 seconds in the old version.
Both engines are mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission; there is no manual transmission available.
But for a sportier ride, you can shift gears manually using the steering-wheel-mounted paddles or leave it in automatic with the shift control system dubbed JaguarDrive SelectorTM.
Instead of a traditional gear shifter, there's a unique, disappearing rotary dial, which first appeared on the Jaguar XF sedan.
Start the car with the push of a button and the dial rises into your hands. To change gears, just turn the dial. Turn the engine off and the dial lowers into the console centre, creating a flat, clean surface.
My testers were an XK coupe and XK convertible. Both are beautiful refined rides - they're not underpowered by any stretch of the imagination. They accelerate smoothly and quickly and the gear shifts are seamless. The all-aluminum chassis is lightweight, yet rigid.
The exhaust note is deep and pronounced, but inside the ride remains whisper-quiet. Even with the top down, you can still carry on a conversation with other passengers without straining to hear.
When the roof is closed, there's good wind and noise insulation, thanks to the triple-lined fabric top. The convertible top drops quickly and easily, too. Just push a button and the roof retracts behind the rear seats in less than 20 seconds.
Top down, it still retains its elegant, sporty lines. The roll-over protection system is hidden away and designed to deploy instantly if the vehicle senses a rollover. On the downside, there are large blind spots on the coupe and the convertible when the roof is closed.
They're also thirsty, especially in the city. The XK averages 17 L/100 km in the city and 8.0 on the highway; the supercharged XKR rates higher at 18.9 city/8.6 highway.
From the exterior, the new XK builds on its heritage, yet remains true to its roots. Even at standstill, the vehicle appears to be moving with its beautiful flowing taut lines and sexy curves.
New features include chrome-detailed inserts on the front bumper and on the upper mesh grille, side mirrors with integrated LED side repeaters, body-coloured side power vents, a rear bumper spoiler and jewel-like rear LED lights.
The XKR stands out from its sibling with chrome on its lower mesh grille; the XK's lower grille is finished in black.
The XKR also gets a body-coloured rear bumper spoiler and a sportier tailpipe design to further emphasize its power and performance.
Inside, the cabin is clean, elegant and sophisticated. The ivory seating with oyster upper cabin trim and oyster carpets on my tester are a little too light for my tastes; they'll get dirty fast.
The heated leather steering wheel with Jaguar's growler badge in the centre feels firm in the hands.
The new front seats are heated and cooled as well as infinitely adjustable. The seat adjustments are located on the side doors where they are easy to access.
A knob lets you tweak the side bolsters for added comfort and support. But the knob is tiny - it would be hard to adjust with winter gloves on.
The two rear seats in the coupe and convertible are a tight squeeze for kids and adults alike. There's little shoulder-, leg- and headroom for rear riders.
The layout is smart and uncluttered and the white illumination on the instruments is clear and easy to read. You can easily access the climate, audio, navigation and Bluetooth mobile systems via the seven-inch touch-screen.
But some functions for the navigation and audio systems require multiple steps. It's more complicated than it should be.
The tunes will sound magnificent over the standard 525-watt Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system.
Other standard features include keyless start, cruise control, electro-chromatic fold-back exterior mirrors, front and rear park assist, emergency brake assist, adaptive cruise control, an adaptive restraint technology system, new adaptive suspension, automatic headlights and front, front side and thorax airbags.
The latest XK is a powerhouse of performance and elegant; it raises the bar higher for both Jaguar and the competition.
2010 JAGUAR XK
Type: Luxury, two-door, four-seat coupe and convertible
Base Price: $96,500 (coupe); $103,200 (convertible)
Engine: 5.0-litre, DOHC, V-8, naturally aspirated or supercharged
- 385 hp/380 lb-ft, naturally aspirated
- 510 hp/461 lb-ft, supercharged
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manumatic shifting
Fuel economy (litres/100 km):
- 17 city/8.0 highway, naturally aspirated
- 18.9 city/8.6 highway, supercharged
- premium gas
Alternatives: BMW M6, Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, Porsche 911, Audi R8