What is it?
With the introduction of the headline-grabbing XKR-S to Jaguar’s sports car line-up, you’d be forgiven for overlooking that the standard XK had been given a series of revisions of its own.
Chief among the changes to the standard 2012 XK – many of which have been inspired by the range-topping XKR-S - are new front headlights with distinctive LED strips, a new, larger chrome mesh oval grille, new LED rear lights and subtle tweaks to the front wings and grille surrounds designed to boost cooling and give the XK a longer and lower stance.
The normally aspirated 380bhp, 380lb ft 5.0-litre V8 under the bonnet remains unchanged from the pre-facelift car, likewise the chassis, which was last overhauled in early 2009.
What’s it like?
Although there are no chassis changes, the launch of the XKR-S is an excuse enough to reassess how the rest of the XK range lines up. And the arrival of the most powerful XK ever has just reaffirmed how sweet the standard car is.
It’s an everyday, usable GT car 95 per cent of the time, and has that sporting edge for remaining time when you really want to keep up with that Porsche 911 at the traffic lights.
The power delivery from the 5.0 V8 is silky smooth and linear, but is more than eager to be revved, especially when in Dynamic mode. At motorway speeds, the engine is quiet and refined, yet can also deliver impressive in-gear acceleration mated to its six-speed auto’ ‘box for overtaking.
It doesn’t feel especially quick, however. Therefore this XK piles on the speed with minimal fuss, rather than with the sledgehammer delivery of its supercharged siblings. There’s always a satisfying sound coming from the exhaust, though, albeit one that lacks the noisy vocal chords of the unruly supercharged models.
The XK has always been known as an easy-rider, and it’s no exception here. Its ride is particularly supple at higher speeds and the body control is excellent, although it’s not as smooth at low speeds as XKs of old.
One slight disappointment with this XK is the steering. The wheel feels too big and chunky in your hands and it lacks the extra feel you crave when really pushing on.
The cabin has also undergone a minor refresh for 2012, with new trim options and the option of sculpted leather seats. The cabin is as comfortable as we’ve come to expect from the XK over the years, yet it still really lacks an Audi MMI or BMW iDrive-style central control for the infotainment system that would improve switchgear usability no end.
Should I buy one?
You’ll hear its supercharged XKR and XKR-S siblings a mile off and see them get more admiring glances parked outside country clubs, but it’s this normally aspirated XK that is the most beguiling of the three-strong XK range.
It’s as fast as you’ll ever need in almost all situations and is as usable everyday as a Ford Fiesta. A pretty darn good all-round GT car, then.