Big cat Jaguar XK ‘feline’ groovy

Jaguar's luxury XK coupe is a true big cat – sleek and athletic – that really growls, says Iain Dooley, PA senior motoring mriter.

Engines – Unsurprisingly it's petrol power all the way with the XK, with a beefy V8 motor Jaguar's unit of choice. Initially available with 4.2 litres and, after a revision programme, 5.0 litres, the creamy smooth V8 motor delivers refinement and accelerative punch in equal measure. And it sounds good, too.

Exterior – As a logical evolution of the old XK8, this XK is just as distinctive thanks to its long, low profile and its nose is the right side of aggressive-looking. The car's long bonnet does take some getting used to when behind the wheel, though.

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Interior – It might be big on the outside but the XK's cabin is a modest size. The car's rear seats are really just for looking at, while headroom is also modest – a consideration if you're above average height. Overall quality is top notch though, and does much to reinforce the car's luxury GT market position.

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Driving – The XK's front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout is a classic one, and, with close to 400 horsepower on tap, the XK can get a bit lively if you don't know what you're doing. Behind its sophisticated exterior the car can be a hooligan in the right hands – and a lot of fun. It's also good at playing the refined cruiser, and can make light work of long motorway journeys.

Ownership – Bargain or not at the point of sale, the real costs start to hit home once you're living with an XK. It's a powerful car with a thirsty engine so be prepared to dig deep to fund your habit. That said, these are straightforward cars and servicing should be no more than routine. Its proportions do require some acclimatisation though, especially the low driving position matched to the long bonnet.

What to look for – Used and abused examples do exist – usually because the owner can't afford to run it properly – so look out for a patchy service history and electrical glitches and parking damage that hasn't been rectified. In general everything must work flawlessly, and a test-drive is a must for peace of mind.

Model history – 2006, Jaguar launches a new version of its popular luxury coupe, the XK. Power comes from a petrol V8 engine, initially 4.2 litres then revised upwards to 5.0-litre. Standard and R high-performance models offered, along with a good level of standard equipment. Automatic gearbox is standard fit across the range.

Reasons to buy – Looks, image, brand values, straight-line performance, refinement.

Reasons to beware – Running costs, proportions can make parking tricky, cabin space.

Pick of the range – XK 4.2 V8.

What to pay – 2006 06 �20,550; 2006 56 �21,300; 2007 07 �23,275; 2007 57 �24,175; 2008 08 �27,250; 2008 58 �28,375; 2009 09 �30,875. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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