Jaguar refashioned the whole lineup and exchanged their old steel bodied for aerospace-style aluminum ones. The XK was transformed from a pretty luxury two-seat sideshow into a stunning sportscar with all the roadgoing talents of its GT competition. As a knockout alternative to the Mercedes-Benz SL, BMW 6-Series, the Porsche 911, or even the Chevrolet Corvette, the XK generated real excitement with its effortless looks and newly tensed reflexes.
It's only grown better over time, and for the 2012 model year, there's an extreme XK that probably marks the high-water mark for the sportscar before it's replaced in a couple of years. The base car still brings it with a fabulous 5.0-liter V-8, a musclecar-like piece with 385 horsepower in base form and a 510-horsepower right hook when it's supercharged. Channeling that power to its rear wheels through a quick-change six-speed, paddle-shifted automatic, the XKR nukes 60-mph runs in 4.6 seconds or less--while the rorty XKR-S and its 550 horsepower nail those runs in under 4.2 seconds, on the way to a 186-mph top speed. An adjustable suspension gives any XK nearly faultless handling that firms up at the touch of a button, and though the steering changes in the XKR-S give it a little too much lightness, the XK lineup executes a masterful balancing act between traction and comfort, even on big 20-inch wheels.