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By Harvey Schwartz
POUNCHING ON THE COMPETITION
It wasn’t long ago that Jaguar along with several other European high-performance luxury vehicles seemed to spend more time in the repair shop than on the road thrilling its owners. That all changed in 2007 for Jaguar when it brought down the hammer with its suppliers for more reliable parts or else, and exchanged their old steel bodied models for lighter, more rigid aerospace-styled aluminum ones. The XK convertible changed from a good looking two-seat sports car into a stunning 2+2 sports car with all of the road-going attributes of its GT competition—the M-B SL, Aston-Martin Vantage, BMW 6-Series and Porsche 911 convertibles. Arguably the most electric of all Jaguars, the new XK generates real excitement with its low, sleek and sexy looks and excellent road handling abilities.
New for 2012 are dramatic design enhancements and option packages, like the Advanced Technology Package that I tested. These new options are sure to add to the lure of the new 2012 Jaguar XK convertible.
On the outside are new front LED adaptive headlights with LED turn-signal functions, a larger chrome mesh front grille with chrome surround, LED running lamps with a distinctive ‘J-Blade’ signature, and new front and rear bumper designs. The flared front fenders have been moved from vertical to horizontal while the rear deck has been revised with a slimmer chrome strip. The rear spoiler does its job providing downforce at high speeds and the five-inch, oval chromed dual exhaust pipes emit a sweet, powerful bubbling note. New wheels and new colors are offered to make the XK even more seductive.
On the inside is the same console-mounted, chrome rotary dial that emerges from the console when you push the start button and first featured in the XF and XJ sedans. Also inside are new trim materials—ebony soft-feel paint for the switches, gloss black finish for the center console, burl wood veneer on the dashboard and instrument cluster surround, phosphor like halo illumination and ambient lighting. The latest state-of-the-art electronic technologies have also been transferred to the XK from the sedans that enhance both convenience and safety.
From any angle, the new XK design is unique and stunning, as all eyes are on you when guiding the car on the road, stopped at traffic signals and when parking.
Moving you out quickly is the awesome, all-aluminum, DOHC, VVT, Direct Injected, 5.0 liter AJ V8 engine that generates at robust 385 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque propelling the XK convertible to 60 mph from a standstill in just 5.1 seconds. The AJ V8 engine is hooked up to a six-speed automatic with sequential shifting ability from the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. It is a real pleasure and thrill to quickly shift gears up or down with just a gentle touch of the paddles conveniently placed on the steering wheel so your hands never have to leave the wheel when turning and changing a gear up or down. Putting the new XK convertible through its paces is so much fun as you feel a part of the car. The feel is of the steering wheel is perfect at speed, when turning, and lighter at slower speed when maneuvering in parking lots.
The fully independent double-wishbone adaptive suspension underpinning this world class sports car makes mincemeat of sharply curving roads that you stalk in the Jaguar XK convertible. The car pounces into the sharpest curves thanks to the adaptive shocks, coil springs, front/rear stabilizer bars and dual strut tower braces. It feels as if you are riding on rails, the feel is so neutral with front and rear weight distribution of 51/49 percent.
Also adding to the Jag’s tenacious grip are the giant Dunlop Pro Sport Maxx low-profile high-performance tires-255/35ZR20 up front, and 285/30ZR20 inch tires in the rear. These incredible tires are wrapped with new, stunning, light alloy SELENA 20X8 front and 20X9-inch rear, 5-3-prong spoke wheels with the center prong clad in chrome. Helping you maintain control during spirited driving is the standard traction and dynamic stability controls. You can of course turn off the dynamic stability control by simply pushing a console mounted button. Quickly and safely slowing the new Jaguar XK down from speed are massive power-assisted vented steel disc brakes. Up front are 14.2 inch rotors clamped with four-piston calipers, and 13.8 inch rotors clamped with single-piston calipers in the rear. Keeping you in control during severe braking or when braking on slick pavement are standard ABS (anti-lock brake system), EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution) and BA (brake assist).
The doors open to reveal one of the most comfortable, luxurious, unique, techno-savvy and safe of all high-end convertibles. It is completely covered in fine leather and the 16-way powered/heated/cooled perforated bucket seats are comfortable and very supportive with power side-bolster control to hug you in place during spirited driving times. The hand-stitched leather wrapped, heated/power tilt/telescoping/3-spoke sporty steering wheel feels perfect in your hands.
The memory function lets three different-sized people drive without having to re-tune the power/heated side mirrors, steering wheel angle, seats and radio inputs. The 525-watt, 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system is one of the world’s best. Truly unique is the red-beating, like your heart, Start button. Other standard features include a DVD touch screen navigation system, USB/iPod connection, Bluetooth technology with SIRIUS satellite radio, center console storage box, dual cupholders, dual map lights, storage in each door, deep glovebox, SmartKey Keyless entry, rain-sensing wipers/washers/headlamp washers and lighted dual vanity mirrors. The one-touch canvas top raises and lowers in just 25-seconds. One touch express power windows/door locks and self-dimming rearview mirror, thick cut-pile carpeting and floor mats round out an extra-ordinary, world-class interior.
The new 2012 Jaguar XK convertible is one of the world’s best all-around luxury performance model—and starting at just $90,500.00, it’s one of the lowest priced.
© Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz
For more information about Jaguar products, go to www.jaguarusa.com
2012 Jaguar XK convertible
Price as tested: $99,350.00 includes destination charges
EPA fuel economy ratings:
16 mpg in the city/22 mpg on the highway
5.0 liter, all-alloy, Direct Injected, VVT, DOHC, V8
385 at 6,500 rpm
380 pound-feet at 3,500 rpm
Six-speed manual with sequential paddle shifting on steering wheel
Front-independent, adaptive dynamic, double wishbone, adaptive gas-charged shocks, stabilizer bar
Rear-independent, adaptive dynamic, double wishbone, adaptive gas-charged shocks, stabilizer bar
Wheels and tires:
Front-20X8 inch 5-3-prong spokes with center prong chrome clad
Rear: 20X9 inch 5-3-prong spokes with center prong chrome clad
Front: 14.2 inch vented/four-piston calipers
Rear: 13.8 inch vented/single-piston calipers
ABS, EDB, BA, Pre-Braking
Total length: 188.7 inches
Total width: 74.5 inches
Total height: 52.3 inches
Curb weight: 3,924 pounds