Find a car review

Make
Model

Jaguar XK 5.0

New 380bhp entry-level Jaguar XK is not the soft-edged GT you might expect

Evo rating
  • Great car for the likes of us
  • But the average Jaguar buyer might disagree

The new Jaguar XKR coupe is a marvellous machine. I’ve tried it on road and track, and for me it’s a pretty good supercar substitute. Its fitness for purpose is unimpeachable.

The XKR illustrates Jaguar’s move to a more overt performance feel very well. For the R-cars, this needed to be done. But, as part of this repositioning, the lesser XKs and XFs, the ones without 503 supercharged bhp at their disposal, also find themselves more hard-edged. Is this a good thing?

Subscribe to evo magazine

If you're passionate about the world's greatest performance cars, experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Try your first 5 issues for £5.

On the face of it, and given an evo mindset, you’d think it is. So I’m driving a regular XK, 380bhp available from its normally aspirated 5 litres, and I’m heading up the Col de Vence (as you do when a car launch is based near Nice). This is a clever engine, with a degree of camshaft sophistication not used, nor needed, in the blown version.

It goes like this. The actuators that vary the valve timing are powered by the torque generated by the camshafts themselves as the valve springs try to force the cam lobes to move round. Compared with the usual oil-pressure-fed system, this one responds more quickly and uses less energy. The inlet camshafts also have variable lift, using a hydraulic pin to lock the tappet in one of two shapes as needed to engage with one of two camshaft profiles.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

The result is a torquey-but-revvy engine, potent and free-spinning. (Its internal friction is among the lowest in the industry, and it runs on 5W-20 oil, which is like water.) And it’s punching this XK up the Col with great verve.

But there’s a slightly artificial, hammery note under load, which isn’t particularly pleasant. And although this is not a hardcore XK, it’s pretty firm riding, even with the adaptive dampers in their gentler mode. There needs to be a bigger difference between the settings.

I turn the auto ’box selector to Sport. Now the engine is hanging on to lower gears for much longer than it needs to, even on a light throttle, thus throwing away the advantages of its ample torque. Sport should make use of revs when you’re going hard, of course, but not when you’re not. So on several counts this XK seems to have lost the relaxed grand-tourer feel it should surely possess as the mainstream model, the car that should epitomise the core Jaguar values of engine refinement and suspension that breathes over bumps.

I can forgive it all that as I power through yet another high-G mountain bend, DSC loosened (not as much as the XKR allows), tail edging out even if proper slides are off the menu. This is a fine car in itself, lighter and more lithe than the XF V8, and the cosmetic updates (new exterior vents and tail-lights, some new interior controls) work well. So does the ZF transmission’s quick-witted manual mode.

But I do wonder if the brand repositioning has gone a bit too far for the regular XK. Maybe there’s something American going on here, a notion that if you can’t readily drive cars fast then at least they can be made to feel sporty. Has Jaguar gone a bit too Germanic in its firmness? If so, that’s a shame.

Specifications

EngineV8, 5000cc
Max power380bhp @ 6500rpm
Max torque380lb ft @3500rpm
Top speed155mph (limited)
0-60mph5.2sec (claimed)
Price£59,900
On saleNow
Advertisement

Have You Considered

Visit/mercedes/gle/201748/2019-mercedes-gle400d-review-a-worthy-original
Mercedes GLE

2019 Mercedes GLE400d review – a worthy original

12 Sep 2019
Visit/porsche/porsche-911-carrera-4/201744/2019-porsche-911-carrera-4-and-carrera-4-cabriolet-detailed
Porsche 911 Carrera 4

2019 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 and Carrera 4 Cabriolet detailed

12 Sep 2019
Visit/mercedes/201726/mercedes-amg-electric-car-to-target-porsche-taycan-and-tesla-model-s
Mercedes

Mercedes-AMG electric car to target Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S

10 Sep 2019
Visit/volkswagen/18328/2020-volkswagen-id3-revealed-vws-electric-revolution-is-here
Volkswagen

2020 Volkswagen ID.3 revealed - VW’s electric revolution is here

9 May 2019

Most Popular

Visit/best-cars/201772/best-v8-cars-past-and-present-our-favourite-eights-and-the-cars-theyre-found-in
Best cars

Best V8 cars past and present – our favourite eights and the cars they’re found in

Whether it’s smooth and sophisticated or motorsport-like in its aggression, the V8 remains one of our favourite engine types, warts and all
20 Sep 2019
Visit/spy-shots/201770/porsche-cayman-gt4-rs-spied-718-to-receive-rennsport-treatment
spy shots

Porsche Cayman GT4 RS spied – 718 to receive Rennsport treatment

More power, more aero and less weight are already on the cards for Stuttgart’s fastest Cayman
19 Sep 2019
Visit/hyundai/i30-n-hatchback/201775/hyundai-i30-n-versus-hyundai-i30-tcr
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 N versus Hyundai i30 TCR

Can evo magazine’s Dickie Meaden beat Steve Sutcliffe in a straight(ish) race? We sent them to the Circuit Nuvolari with a pair of Hyundai i30 Ns to f…
20 Sep 2019
Visit/news/201740/goodyear-eagle-f1-supersport-the-best-by-design
Advertisement Feature

Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport: the best by design

That the new Eagle F1 SuperSport range of Ultra Ultra High Performance tyres is taking the trackday market by storm shouldn’t be a surprise – it’s sim…
11 Sep 2019