2008 Jaguar XK Convertible Review

By Brendan Moore


First, a disclaimer. I have owned five Jaguars; four XKE coupes from the glory years of the E-Type and one XJ sedan. The XKE models were evenly split between six-cylinder models and twelve-cylinder models and closed-coupes and convertibles. The XJ was a six.

It has been a long time since I wanted to spend money on a Jaguar, though. I have long thought their styling was stuck in the land that time forgot, and although the quality of the cars has increased a thousand-fold since the ones I owned were made, my desire to own one has decreased in sort of an inverse relationship. I am very much looking forward to spending some time in the new XF, which is now out, looks quite different than the recent past Jaguars, stickers for around $50,000 USD and is also getting very good reviews from the guys I know in the automotive press that have already driven it.

The XK model I drove (redone in 2007) is probably on its way out of the Jaguar lineup completely in the near future since the new design philosophy has been launched. It should be interesting to see what direction the new owner of Jaguar (Tata) takes the flagship model of Jaguar, whatever the model designation in the future.

The XK convertible that was dropped off at our office had a MSRP of almost $88,000 USD. The sticker starts at $81,500 and includes:

• Rollover Protection System
• Power-latching, self-stowing top with three layers including Thinsulate™ lined and Rakona headliner, flush fold with aluminum tonneau cover
• Bright-finish tonneau surround
• 300-horsepower, 4.2-liter engine
• 6-speed ZF automatic transmission with Jaguar Sequential Shift steering wheel mounted paddle shifting
• 18-in. Venus wheels
• Optional 19-in. Carelia wheels
• Optional 19-in. chromed Sabre wheels
• Optional 19-in. chromed Sabre wheels with run flat tires
• Optional 20-in. Senta wheels
• Dual-stage airbags and side, seat-mounted airbags for front occupants
• TracDSC (Dynamic Stability Control)
• Enhanced Computer Active Technology Suspension (eCATS)
• Tire Pressure Monitoring System
• Keyless Entry and Keyless Start
• Bright-finish side window surround and trunk plinth
• Body-colored spoiler and power side vents
• Dual tailpipes with bright finishers
• Supple, hand-selected leather seating surfaces
• 10-way power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats
• Rich, high-gloss Burl Walnut or satin-finish Poplar interior trim
• 7-in. touchscreen for audio, telephone, climate, navigation, personalization, and valet
• Available Luxury Package
• Available Aluminum Luxury Package

I am not going to take up space here going through the options list; suffice it to say that the Jaguar XK has everything the buyer in the is luxury/performance segment expects these days, and it’s all put together very nicely. As noted in the specifications above, the XK model I tested was the standard model with the standard 4.2 liter V8 that pumps out 300 hp at 6000 rpm. The EPA rating for fuel mileage is 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway The “R” version gets a horsepower upgrade to 420 hp courtesy of a Eaton supercharger.

The XK convertible, like a lot of convertibles, doesn’t impress with its looks when the top is up. I live on a street that gets a lot of foot traffic and no one gave it a second look in the week I had it when the top was up. But, when the top goes down (fully automatic and takes less than 20 seconds), the car is a quite a looker in the classic Jaguar way. That foot traffic I referred to generally took a detour over to the car to look inside, point something out to their walking companion, etc. when the convertible was open. I couldn’t help but notice that the XK convertible seemed to have a tremendous amount of appeal to passers-by that were in their 50’s and above. I also couldn’t help but notice that teens and 20-somethings barely paid any attention to it. In fact, one of the few 20-somethings that did notice it while I also happened to be outside in my driveway asked me if it was a Lexus convertible.

Hey, I can’t make this stuff up.

But, how does it drive? Well, it’s fast, as you might expect. It does 0-60 mph in exactly six seconds through the six-speed automatic gearbox, and tops out at a (speed-limited) 155 mph according to Jaguar’s media information. After driving the car for a week, I have no reason to doubt those performance claims. And it handles well, and the braking is very good – I took it over hill and dale, secondary road and superhighway at speed in order to confirm my initial impressions.

And, yet…

I must be honest. What I thought would be a week of man-auto bonding just didn’t turn out like that. The more I drove the 2008 Jaguar XK, the less I was enamored of it. Yes, its fast, but it hardly inspires the passion of a sports car. Yes, its luxurious, but its small and cramped like a sports car. It was not fish or fowl, and in its attempt to be both a sports car and a luxury car, satisfied neither category. It’s a great boulevard cruiser with the top down, but from my perspective, it’s too big and front-heavy to fling around in a corner like a sports car. And its way too small (and to me, uncomfortable) inside to claim status as a luxury car. And sure, it’s a pretty car with the top down, but, again, to me, while still attractive, the looks are dated and derivative at this point. Its stale-looking to these eyes. The same eyes, I might add, that have gazed at the lines of the original XKE for decades and still find that car visually exciting.

If I add in the gravity-defying $88,000 price of the XK, things get worse. There are real sports cars available at this price (or lower) that I fiercely desire, and, there are, frankly, a great many luxury cars at this price that I could be happy with for a very long time.

I fully realize there are many people who would consider the blend I just wrote about (and knocked down) in the XK to be the perfect combination of attributes that they desire in a car. Classic looks, sporty performance, convertible, venerable brand name, lots of luxury in the cabin, etc – that’s a lot of boxes checked there. They’re not interested in exploring the performance parameters of their vehicle, and they’re OK with the cramped cabin in the XK – maybe they’re shorter/smaller than I am, maybe they never carry more than one person around them, whatever. To them, the Jaguar XK represents good, maybe excellent value.

The summing up for me is that, as much as I wanted to like the Jaguar XK Convertible, it left me wanting more for $88,000.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at .

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  1. Jaguar with an automatic transmission?
    That’s just wrong on so many levels.

  2. You say it has what sounds like a great blend of sport and luxury and then you beat the car down for having that combination! What is you want from the car?!?!?!

  3. Sport & Luxury – exactly what I want in a car. I like the XK coupe so much more than the convertible.

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