Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

The XK was initially available with a 300bhp 4.2-litre V8 with huge reserves of pulling power. It covers a quarter of a mile from rest in 14.4 seconds, which is only half a second slower than the old XKR that used a 400bhp supercharged engine. 0-62mph comes up in just 6.3 seconds and the engine is wonderfully smooth yet responsive. The engine note has also been tuned along with the exhaust to give it a sportier character.

A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with normal and sport modes plus there are also paddles on the steering wheel to provide sequential manual changes - a first for a Jaguar. The manufacturer has worked to improve the quality of the gearchanges in manual mode so they are quicker than a standard auto, automated manual or a dual clutch gearbox.

The XK is unusual as it uses aluminium body panels - lightweight but also very stiff. This makes the coupe extremely agile as there's less mass to move around and means it corners superbly with virtually no body roll. The steering is a little light, but it's wonderfully precise and the XK responds to even small steering inputs. Although it doesn't have a fixed roof, the soft top version is just as good to drive as the coupe thanks to a rigid body with no vibration over rough roads or bumps.

The ride is impressive too, even with the optional larger wheels - although in town the firmer ride is noticeable. Revised cars from March 2009 come with a system called Jaguar Drive Control which has three different modes, activated by switches next to the gear selector. There's a standard mode, winter mode for low grip conditions and dynamic mode.

The latter increases throttle response and quickens the gear changes.