By Chris Thorp
We have traced every step of Jaguar's design and testing programme for the all-new XK, but the firm is not finished with the old model yet. To mark the departure of one of Britain's best-loved sports cars, it has raided the options list and produced this: the XK-S.
Available in naturally aspirated or supercharged XKR-S form, the special edition is striking, with 20-inch alloys and unique badging. The XKR-S also boasts red wheel centres and Brembo brake calipers. It may have been around since 1996, but the XK still turns heads.
Inside, the supercharged model is finished in carbon fibre trim - although that cannot hide the design's age. Considering the XK's vast external dimensions, there is very little space, while the array of buttons scattered across the dash is a far cry from modern rivals. However, the S is superbly equipped, with a high-quality sound system and Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity.
Out on the road, the Jag's vintage is emphasised even further. The ride and handling cannot match competitors in this price range, yet the XKR-S still evokes a sense of occasion with its characteristic supercharger whine and smooth automatic gearbox. It is fast, too; 0-60mph takes only 5.2 seconds, while the top speed is limited to 155mph.
At £59,995, the XKR-S faces stiff competition from the Porsche 911 and BMW 6-Series. While its replacement is likely to have the chassis, style and quality to tackle these opponents head-to-head, the current model relies on retro appeal. Our advice would be to wait for the new car, due in the spring.
This is the most luxurious XK ever. With stunning wheels, lots of extra kit and performance which is difficult to better in a GT, the supercharged Jag is still a justifiable choice. But rivals have moved on in every area, and the all-new model promises to be far more capable.
At a Glance
* On sale in the UK now, the S comes in both coupé and convertible guises. While it gets plenty of extra equipment as standard, Jaguar has also added adaptive cruise control as an option across the XK line-up for the first time.
* Engine: 4.2-litre V8, 400bhp
* Price: £59,995