Part of this confusion may be linked to the fact that the car it replaced, the XK8, emerged from the primordial soup in 1996, and despite the lovely Ian Callum design that helps to distinguish XK from XK8 the two are for many indeterminately linked as one big Jag grand tourer-fest. However, here we concentrate only on the newer car, as the XK8 is undoubtedly so old that I suspect there is probably no recorded currency left in which one can now buy one.
And they are, too. A quick scan of the classifieds reveals several 2006 models available from as low as £12,000, all from independent dealers and with around 100,000 miles on the clock. However, the general feeling among those who know their Jags is that it's better to up the budget a bit and spend around £14/15,000 on a model with a documented sub-100K mileage and, of course, a full service history.
These early cars retained the 300hp, 4.2-litre, V8 from the XK8, good enough to propel the big cat from 0 to 62mph in less than six seconds. A highly desirable 420hp XKR knocked that back to 4.9secs, and it could roar up to a limited top speed of 155mph. Expect to pay at least £20,000 for one of those, though.
In 2009 the XK was facelifted. The styling tweaks added to the Jag's visual appeal, but the major changes were underneath, where a 385hp, 5.0-litre, V8 replaced the old 4.2-litre unit. The XKR now offered 510hp, and the car could see off the 0-62mph dash in 4.8 seconds. There were a few special editions too, including the rare XKR-S, with a 550hp supercharged V8 that enabled the Jag to lower the 0 to 62mph time to an impressive 3.9secs and power on to an unlimited top speed of 186mph.
What you get for whichever level of dosh you choose is a surprisingly agile and, in some versions, a blisteringly fast grand touring car. The Jag might not have the swagger of the Bentley or the Aston, but here is a well-designed car that's tremendous fun to punt down a winding road and so far seems to have emerged with a relatively good reputation for reliability.
[Words: Mark Pearson]