2010 Jaguar XK Convertible Portfolio Road Test Review

Bob Cowan - CAP staff
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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I can confidently start this review of the 2010 Jaguar XK Portfolio by stating there is no such thing as an unattractive Jaguar.  Some classic brands have gone through awkward transitions from one era to the next, but the one constant in the Jaguar brand is beauty.  The very first sports car I had a ride in was a 1968 XKE.  I was around ten years old and it scared the c@#@!$%##! out of me but it was the most amazing car I had ever seen.  Its speed and styling left such an impression that it remains my favourite classic car to this day.

That is why I was so excited 40 years later to get behind the wheel of the 2010 XK Portfolio for a whole week.   Its styling under the direction of Ian Callum is exquisite.  Not messing with success, the changes for 2010 are subtle with a longer hood to channel Austin Powers XKE with an overall length of 4794 mm (188.7 inches) and a slightly more muscular look.  Brake cooling vents have replaced the fog lamps. My test unit was white with Ivory leather seats and suede pillars, light blue leather dash, walnut trim and accented with brushed aluminum.  The DVD Navigation features a 7-inch full touch screen and the 525-watt Bowers and Wilkins audio system is standard. Callum also designed the Aston Martin Vanquish and there are some very subtle similarities with the centre stack and dash, but the rest is pure Jag.  Add the new Jaguar smell and the overall effect is intoxicating… and I haven't even hit the start button yet.

When I did, the perfectly tuned 5.0-litre V8 hit all the right notes for a perfect low growl.  A lot of work went into getting the right sound, to the point of developing an active exhaust system that opens valves to get that perfect 'Jaguar' rumble. The motor kicks out 385 horsepower with 380 lb-ft of torque, while the supercharged R variant offers up an incredibly robust 510 horsepower, and get you to 100 km/h in a mere 4.8 seconds instead of 5.5, but for me its overkill not to mention the extra price and mileage penalty.  The normally aspirated 5.0-litre gets a rating of 17.1/8.0/11.2L/100 km city/highway/combined. This base V8 has many advances over the previous version. It gives you fantastic acceleration even with the convertible's 2,120 kg (4,674 lb) weight without the whiplash, and is perfect for this grand touring sports car.  The Jaguar Drive selector, which replaces the old and heavily criticized J-Shift, controls the standard six-speed automatic transmission.  When you hit the aforementioned Start button, a big round recessed knob deploys James Bond style. There are also paddles on the steering wheel for sequential shifting.

The XK Portfolio construction employs aluminum tubes to keep the weight down, but the chassis is stiff.  This helps the XK Portfolio convertible handle remarkably well. The standard 16-way powered, plus heated and cooled seats help keep you planted in the corners.  On the highway the ride is exceptionally smooth.  Jaguar's new Adaptive Dynamics monitors the 19-inch wheels five hundred times a second to adjust the suspension and adapt to any road condition.  The four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes provide plenty of stopping power too, enhanced with Emergency Brake Assist (EBA).

The Portfolio's fabric convertible roof is nothing new, but goes up or down in just 18 seconds and tucks away nicely. The hidden roll over protection system deploys instantly when needed.  I like the 2+2 layout. It's nice to know you have a back seat to use, even it's more of a 'shelf' to throw stuff on, because when the top is dropped your cargo space in the trunk is down to about one manila folder.

While the XK has always been a thing of beauty, it has not always been so pretty on the engineering side. The R&D funded by the former parent company Ford has produced an advanced generation of faster pussycats that are more powerful, yet more efficient and greener.  Canadian pricing starts at $103,200 for the Portfolio convertible plus $1,270 delivery.  The XK Portfolio may not be the fastest sports car on the road, but it's definitely one of the most sophisticated both technically and visually.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Convertible, Coupe, Sports Coupe, Jaguar, 2010, XK Series, XK Convertible, $75,000 - $99,999,

Organizations: Jaguar

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