Even before the current XK arrived on our roads back in 2006 it attracted controversy as a design. We shouldn’t be surprised: a cornerstone of a Jaguar’s appeal has always been its sensuous styling, and image is more important than ever in these design-savvy times.

The XK has presence. From some angles it is strikingly handsome, but it isn’t quite the gorgeous vision in aluminium that Jaguar’s marketing suits would have us believe.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
The steroidal excess of the XKR-S looks like shoulder pads on a supermodel. I prefer the simpler beauty of the standard XK

The XK remains a conservative design, even after facelifts in 2009 and 2011. Its classical coupé proportions mix with strong Jaguar hallmarks such as the ovoid intake ‘mouth’. But perhaps the biggest change is that the fuselage shape of the XK8’s lower body has been traded for a Coke-bottle form that heightens the XK’s muscularity, as do shorter overhangs and a wider track.

It is the larger details that split opinions most: the bluff nose, the slightly shapeless headlamps and the round tail lights provoking most debate. Some believe the overall design should have been more adventurous.

The same cannot be said of the XKR-S model, which is about as in-your-face as a sports design can be. XKR-Ss get heavily sculpted front-ends for increased cooling and greater distinction. It’s a design that’s very un-Jaguar, but diversification away from what one believes a traditional Jaguar should be is a constant aim for design chief Ian Callum and his team. 

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