New 5.0-litre V8 gives the entry-level XK more zing

Jaguar XK Portfolio Coupe

What is it?

This is the Jaguar XK 5.0 Portfolio, the entry point into the revised Jaguar XK range. For the 2010 model year which means production from the end of this month Jaguar has made a bunch of detail engineering changes.

Most significant is a new 380bhp 5.0-litre V8 with direct injection and 380lb ft of torque – a big improvement over the old-stager 4.2 it replaces. There are also revisions to the suspension and a new diff.

Bilstein variable dampers replace Jaguar’s venerable CATS system and the suspension is retuned to give a sportier drive and more balanced handling.

External changes are minimal, as the focus is on the improved technical spec. Most noticeable is the front bumper’s brace of narrow brake-cooling vents flanking the lower air intake.

There are also new mirrors incorporating side-repeater LEDs and new LED rear lamps.

The old XK’s weakness was its interior quality. So the new Jaguar XK’s interior is improved with a revised centre console, which now houses the funky rotary gear selector from the XF.

What’s it like?

The Jaguar XK is old-school Jaguar with a sporty edge, so it’s really, really good. The ride isn’t quite as buttery at low speeds as the old XK’s, but the upside is much better body control and chassis balance as speeds rise.

The new 5.0-litre V8 is a revelation, too. It’s smooth and eager to rev, and it emits a glorious burble that switches to a snarl at the top of the rev range. Going down the ’box in manual mode, the exhaust even pops and crackles. Brilliant.

In-gear acceleration is sharp, too. The new XK takes 2.5secs to get from 50mph to70mph, which is a shade quicker than the outgoing 420bhp XKR.

But the linear nature of the power delivery never makes it feel that quick – the old supercharged XK suddenly unleashed a great gob of acceleration, while the new naturally aspirated XK piles on the speed with less drama.

Should I buy one?

The new XK gets closer to sportier rivals like the 911 without completely losing its compliant ride. If you want a comfy cruiser with a dynamic edge, then the answer is undoubtedly yes.

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Citytiger 11 March 2009

Re: Jaguar XK 5.0 V8 Portfolio

Still looks like a Hyundai Coupe to me