The XK's steering, with speed-sensitive power assistance, is finger-light a low speed, the general refinement excellent, and the ride – for the most part – very accommodating. That said, the 20-inch wheels many Jaguar buyers will go for produce a stiff-legged reaction to potholes that the intermediate 19-inch rims largely avoid.
But the soothing nature of the XK is what characterises it. Even at a high-speed cruise it remains admirably quiet, and only an exaggerated roar on rough surfaces and some question marks over high-speed stability in crosswinds disturb the calm. Rolling refinement really is this car's USP.
Pick up the pace and the XK subtly responds. It’s not a car to pummel the road into submission in order to maintain body control. Instead, the low-speed suppleness persists, even on the generally firmer and more sporting models.
The standard XK proceeds as you hoped it might: gracefully and with a pleasingly feline athleticism over challenging roads. The sensation is less raw and less aggressive than you’ll feel aboard many of the XK’s rivals, but that far from restricts its pace.
The slightly vague ‘sneeze factor’ remains in the light steering around the straight ahead, but resistance builds consistently once you’ve turned through that phase and the wheel’s general weighting and precision are good on lock.
But on a hard drive you’ll wish the rack communicated a little more and that a few layers of numbing assistance would peel away so you felt more connected. This is a car that enjoys rapid but measured progress, rather than being grabbed by the scruff of the neck and driven hard.
The downside in the R is that outright comfort takes a backwards step. Its ride is supremely composed but you detect a little more thump in the cabin over potholes and expansion joints. It’s probably a price worth paying for the extra agility, if sporting thrills are your be-all and end-all.
The dynamic changes of the S bring an improved steering response (more weight and less hesitation), making it easier and more satisfying to commit to a corner. The convertible XKR-S maintains a good balance between slightly bonkers performance and touring ability. Despite the outlandish exterior, it still possesses some traditional Jaguar refinement. Overall, the step-up in precision, composure and involvement over the standard R is probably in the region of 20 percent.