Few grand touring sports cars have a longer or more storied history than the Jaguar XK. Though the coupe and roadster have always been admired for their classic, elegant design, make no mistake about it: These cats were meant to go fast. The XK line traces its roots back to 1949 with the XK 120, the numeric portion of the name an indicator of the car's top speed (although it would take a brave soul to test those limits, with the car's skinny tires and low cutaway doors). When it comes to speed, the Brits at Jag continue to push the envelope, and the 2012 XK lineup is the fastest and most advanced in Jaguar history.
The entire 2012 Jaguar XK lineup gets updated with new front and rear fascias, new headlamps and LED running lights. Inside, the 2012 XK receives upgraded interior materials. Also new for 2012, a rearview camera comes standard on all trim levels, useful when backing up in any sports car due to their poor visibility rearward.
New for 2012 is Jaguar's top-of-the-line XKR-S Coupe and XKR-S Convertible. Its 5.0-liter supercharged V8 churns out a breathtaking 550 horsepower and has a top speed of 186 miles per hour, making the XKR-S the fastest production Jag ever. Both coupe and drop-top are estimated to leap from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds. Hand in hand with the hearty powerplant on the XKR-S is an exterior design focused on aerodynamics, with stability at speed and reducing drag is of primary importance. Production of the XKR-S will be limited to 100 coupes and 25 convertibles for 2012, and 100 of each body style for 2013.
The 2012 Jaguar XK is available in three levels of tune, each in coupe and convertible body styles. Jaguar XK models are powered by a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 385 hp and 380 pound-feet of torque. Jaguar XKR models feature a supercharged version of the same engine, with 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque. All variants are rear-wheel drive and come with a 6-speed automatic, the only transmission available.
The XK models feel solid and stable even at very high speeds. Ride quality is tough to fault, with an Adaptive Damping System automatically adjusting for ride comfort when cruising along or tightening it down for hard cornering. The 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters is smooth and tight with rev-matching downshifting. The standard 385-hp engine has plenty of power, while the supercharged versions move the XK into supercar territory.
Fuel economy is an EPA-rated 16/24 mpg City/Highway for the XK Coupe; the XK convertible achieves 16/22 mpg. The supercharged XKR and XKR-S coupe and convertible models are all rated 15/22 mpg.
The 2012 Jaguar XK runs against tough company. The Porsche 911 is all-new for 2012, with most complaints seeming to center around the theme of it being too good. Add options and the 911 gets pricey, however. The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class rivals Jaguar in technology and good looks, but its roadster-style seating leaves backseat occupants out in the cold. The XK or XKR are closely matched in price and performance by the BMW 6 Series and Mercedes E-Class, while the XKR-S competes against supercars such as the Audi R8, Mercedes SL65 AMG, Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, and Nissan GT-R.
The XK chassis was introduced for the 2007 model year, but it's still cutting edge. The engines were introduced for 2010, and the convertible joined the lineup for 2011. The styling was revised for 2012, and the XKR-S joined the lineup.