PH Service History: Big Cat Diary

Whither the Jaguar XK? It seems like just a few years ago that we were excited about the launch of Jaguar's new coupe, with its aluminium bodywork and mesmerising lines. As a replacement for the ageing XK8, it hit the spot perfectly, crisping up the older model's more rounded edges and replacing its olde-worlde interior with something rather more modern.

Racy is available if you want. Alex doesn't
Racy is available if you want. Alex doesn't
But in 2014, production came to an end, just as the F-Type Coupe came into being. Don't read too much into that, though. "The F-Type was never meant to kill the XK," said Ian Callum in a recent interview with Autocar, adding that having both an F-Type and an XK in the range was "always the plan".

A replacement, then, is on the cards - albeit a little way off, meaning lovers of grand tourers like me will have to wait longer. How tedious. If you're impatient, like me, you might be tempted to take the plunge on a late example of the last-generation model. Oh, sure, these feel a little dated now, but they're still just as comfortable and satisfying to drive as they were when they were released; indeed, there are few grand tourers that combine such elegant looks with such comfort - not to mention, such accessible prices.

OK, so if you want something new-ish, you'll still need to stump up quite a bit of cash. £37K, for example, gets you into this admittedly very tasteful 2013 Portfolio, with just 16,000 miles and a full history. But that feels a bit steep when an XKR with barely any more miles can be had for similar money - assuming you're willing to settle for something a couple of years older.

But this, this is much more like it
But this, this is much more like it
But it's further down the age and price range that the XK starts to make more sense. Early 4.2-litre examples can now be had for well shy of £15,000, which seems to me like a lot of car for the cash. However, I'd stretch myself a little more to get hold of one of the first 5.0-litre cars; this one, with reasonable miles and a promising-sounding history, is nibbling its way south of £20,000.

The advantage of going for one of these XKs is that you get the significantly improved AJ133 engine that later formed the basis of the cracklingly angry lump sitting in the nose of the F-TypeSVR. Of course, here it's rather tamer; nevertheless, 385hp is not to be sniffed at, and while the XK is still a bit of a slusher, that 62mph comes up in just 5.2 seconds suggests it's still quick enough to provide plenty of entertainment. It sounds better than the older 4.2, too.

Still too rich for your blood? How about an earlier XK8, then? I'm a bit biased here, as an XK8 was the first half-decent car my old man bought, but I think they're pretty cars despite that slightly lumpy back end. And while, of course an '8 is not as quick or as good to drive as the later cars, it's still a lovely old tourer, with that 'Spitfire wing' slab of wood giving the interior the impression of an old country pub.

Or for just £5,000...
Or for just £5,000...
£5,000 gets you a decent-looking example; in my book, that's a bit of a bargain right now, as it can't be too long before the numbers thin to such an extent that the values start to climb again.

The Jaguar XK, then, is alive and well in the classifieds. And while none of these iterations will give you the last word in handling dynamics, all of them have an appeal that only a big Jag can offer. Fingers crossed the same can be said of the new one (and, ahem, that it depreciates quickly enough that we can all afford one soon).


Comments (25) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Notanotherturbo 14 Oct 2017

    The F Type is a completely different kind of car. I bought one of the last 4.2 XKRs about a year ago and love it. As a quick , pretty and comfortable tourer it's almost unbeatable even against new cars. My only criticism is the nav/phone interface is terrible, but I don't use it as a daily so not so much of an issue. I considered everything available in my price range and it came down to the Jag or a leggy Continental which I ruled out on running costs. Quicker than an AM Vantage and much more comfortable, prettier and more charismatic than the German rivals. A few gratuitous pics :0)

  • 69.9mph 14 Oct 2017

    Nice write up of a great car. Not sure about the accuracy of this comment though: "And while none of these iterations will give you the last word in handling dynamics".

    The ride/handling were well praised by contemporary reviews, for example EVO said this "The XKR feels a little edgier and harder than the XFR but still rides with great composure. Turn-in has real bite and conviction, mid-bend responses are beautifully clean and crisp and damping control is simply sublime. Equally impressive is the transient behaviour. The intestinal S-bends that characterize the CA9104 between Grazalema and Zahara present no problem at all; the Jaguar shifts its weight with the lithe precision of a world-class downhill skiier".

  • alpha channel 14 Oct 2017

    I have to say the handling and ride are pretty damned good considering how big the old girls are. They are a tad on the big side for the roads around me but right now aside from an Elise S2 (VVC engined version for preference) I can't think of another car I'd replace mine with (a boggo standard '06 plate XK). The ride, on the 20" Senta alloys, far exceeds that of the 159Ti (on 18" alloys) that preceded it.

    I love the interior colour combo, which, aside from the lower than average mileage, is what sold this particular XK to me.

    Aside from size the only downsides I have is the cost of tyres (expected considering the size) and the number of bell ends wanting to race (expected from the hot hatch brigade including a resident Mini Cooper).

  • unsprung 14 Oct 2017

    Arguably one of the best used car purchases. Not exactly cheap to acquire or maintain, but a lot of value for money.

    For me, the key is the timeless design: even after the better part of 10 years, the overall look remains pleasing and classical.

  • andyps 14 Oct 2017

    I recently sold my XK8 which I had for over five years and took to 176K miles (it was the "Readers Ride" in the same issue of Autocar as the Ian Callum interview mentioned in the blog) and loved but for a few issues which were occassionally expensive. I'm looking for a 5.0 Portfolio to replace it with but haven't found the right combination of colour, spec and price so far - I know it is out there and fortunately I'm not in a desperate rush but would be very happy if it comes up for sale soon!

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