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 6.2 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 easy to drive quickly thanks to the weight-saving aluminium body. Everything is very responsive, from the strong brakes to the sharp steering - in fact it feels as though you're driving a much smaller car. The agile coupe turns in neatly and the long-travel accelerator pedal can be used to feed in power smoothly. Electronic safety systems are ready to prevent any unruly behaviour, although there are two additional settings - one with a later intervention from the electronics, aimed at more experienced high-performance drivers and another with the stability and traction systems switched off.
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.