Jaguar XK Convertible
Styling is still very attractive even with fabric roof
- Sophisticated construction and design brings many benefits
- Six-speed transmission responds superbly in manual and auto modes
- Engine is powerful, smooth and sounds excellent
- Impressive mix of smooth ride and taut handling
- Convertible looks plain in comparison with coupe
- Some cabin plastics feel inferior
- Interior styling a let down compared with exterior
- Rear seats are unsuitable for passengers
Completing the 2006 XK range is the stylish Convertible model, designed to increase the appeal of the sporty two door model with the addition of a folding roof. Designed alongside the coupe it aims to offer all the comfort and performance of the fixed roof version with as few compromises as possible.
With the previous generation XK reaching nine years old, the all-new version needed to build on the success of the original whilst moving the design forward and incorporating up to date features. At the same time it had to retain the key elements that make up a Jaguar, and also achieve the same degree of desirability that made a whole series of Jaguar sports cars so successful.
A key element to achieving the high standards required for the new XK was the use of an aluminium structure. Using technology developed for the XJ saloon, the XK has aluminium body panels as well as an aluminium chassis structure, which is designed for high strength with light weight. As well as providing a weight advantage over its steel rivals, the stiffness and reduction in mass also benefits ride, handling and performance.
Under the bonnet the XK uses a 4.2-litre V8 petrol engine which has been used in other Jaguar cars, but in this application it has been mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission with paddleshift controls, a first for Jaguar. As well as a conventional automatic and sport mode, using either one of the paddles switches into a fully manual mode, allowing control of gearchange points to make the most of the engine performance.
The Convertible model was designed alongside the Coupe to create as much commonality as possible, and to ensure that the structural stiffness and performance was as close as possible to the fixed-roof car. The hood itself is a fabric item, which is stowed behind the rear seats automatically. A single button press is all that is required to raise or lower the hood, which takes less than 20 seconds.
Our verdict on the Jaguar XK Convertible
Despite tough competition, Jaguar has succeeded in creating a superb mix of performance, luxury and grace with the new XK Convertible. It is superbly styled, is a pleasure to drive whether cruising on the motorway or enjoying a twisting B-road. It is also well equipped, reasonably economical and competitively priced, making it one of the finest sports car on sale.
Although the XK's fuel economy is respectable compared with its rivals, it remains an expensive vehicle to run. Insurance will also be high, and the initial purchase price will be beyond the means of most buyers.
Space and practicality
Rarely a strong point for cars of this nature, the XK does a good job of accommodating two passengers, but less so for anything else. There is good head and legroom in the front even with the roof up, with reasonable space for oddments in the cabin. The rear seats are best used for carrying bulkier items, as there is precious little legroom for carrying passengers. The boot is quite shallow but relatively long, so larger items would have to go on the back seats.
Controls and display
The layout of the XK is very simple and uncluttered, with many of the controls accessed through the touch screen display. This is a good system which works well, although it does require a little acclimatisation. Many of the other controls are housed below it, and they are easy to understand and to use. The instruments and simple, classy and clear, and the wide range of information is displayed clearly in the instrument display and touch screen.
For front seat occupants the Jaguar provides very high levels of comfort. The seats are electrically adjustable and offer good support, while the ride quality is generally excellent, even on broken roads. Noise levels are also well controlled, and although there is some wind bluster with the roof down, it is well within an acceptable level.
The XK is fitted as standard with a Thatcham approved alarm, which has a tilt, intrusion and interior sensor. The remote locking key unlocks only the driver's door with a single push, and a keyless system can also be specified, removing the need to have the key in hand to enter and start the vehicle.
The Jaguar's bodyshell is designed to be lightweight but also strong, and it incorporates structures to compensate for the lack of a roof in the event of a side impact. It also benefits from roll hoops that deploy if the car detects a potential roll over, combating one of the main issues of safety in a convertible. A high complement of airbags and electronic control systems add to the Jaguar's credentials.
Key to the XK's ability in terms of driving appeal is its combination of comfort and sportiness. Jaguar itself claims that an increased sporty feel over the previous generation car was required, and it delivers. The steering is light but provides good feel, the engine is responsive and sounds impressively potent, and the automatic gearbox is superb, especially in fully manual mode. In contrast, when driven sedately, the ride is impressive, the engine is very quiet and there is little noise. The Convertible is even more impressive given that it matches the performance of the fixed-roof Coupe so closely, despite its different structure.
Family car appeal
The XK lacks sufficient passenger and luggage space to perform as a family car. The rear seats may be suitable for children of certain size, but the restricted boot space means that it would struggle to cope with a small family.
First car appeal
The XK is unlikely to be on the shopping list of first car buyers, with its high insurance grouping and initial purchase price. However, the Jaguar is an easy car to drive and would not present any problems for an inexperienced driver.
Quality and image
The overall feel of the Jaguar is of high quality, with the vast majority of the interior and exterior giving off a very good impression. Fit and finish is good throughout, with only the occasional use of cheaper plastics to count against it. Image is one area where the Jaguar excels, thanks to its attractive styling and the heritage of legendary Jaguars from the past. It also builds on the good reputation of the previous generation XK.
With the roof up or down, gaining access to the front of the XK is simple. The doors are lightweight, easy to open and open to reveal a large aperture. Access to the rear is more awkward, but the boot is easy to get into and has a well shaped opening.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
With a high-quality CD/tuner system fitted as standard, the Jaguar has an audio system well up to the task of providing powerful sound reproduction, even with the hood down. The addition of the touch-screen and steering wheel controls also makes it very easy to operate.
Colours and trim
With several trim options the XK can be tailored to suit the tastes of the owner, and the test car was fitted with charcoal coloured trim and seats with aluminium detailing, which although dark creates a pleasant cabin. The vast majority of the materials are of a good quality, although the occasional piece of cheaper plastic does detract from the overall feel.
Fitted with the optional parking assist, the XK is easy to slide into a parking space. The smooth operation of the transmission and light steering allow easy manoeuvres. With the roof up visibility is restricted, but with it folded down vision forwards and backwards is good.
Space saver fitted as standard beneath the boot floor.
One engine option: 4.2-litre petrol (300bhp) Six-speed automatic transmission with paddleshift controls fitted as standard. Trim level is either Coupe or Cabriolet.
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