We'd be lying if we said we weren't disappointed about the premature departure of our , but at least we came close to our mark and have come away with enough seat time to assess a 50,000-mile run in one of Jaguar's most attractive models to date.
At just shy of 47,000 miles, the acquisition of by India's largest automotive manufacturer, Tata Motors, meant we weren't going to see 50K on the odometer unless we made a side trip to a Starbucks in Des Moines, Iowa, on our way into the office here in Newport Beach, California. So assuming our cat behaved and stayed in perfect health over the final 3000 miles, an assumption we're confident to make, we called up our local Jaguar dealer for service cost estimates at 50,000 miles, and also factored in the cost of the replacement front tires we were prepared to swap out.
We adhered to the routine maintenance schedule detailed in our XK owner's manual, which recommended service intervals every 10,000 miles. Oil, filters and wiper blade consumables were a typical affair, though the Coupe required new brake linings — front and rear — every other service, which was more frequent than the average test car. Our Dunlop SP Sport 01 tires were relatively generous on tread life considering they worked pretty well from a performance standpoint. The rear tires gave up the ghost sooner than the fronts and needed to be replaced at about 28,000 miles. On the other hand, the front tires let us get away with well over 40,000 miles and without rotation because of their asymmetric construction.
Mechanically, our XK ran like a champ from the day it arrived till the moment Jaguar's vehicle handlers pried the keys loose from our reluctant hands. The all-aluminum V-8 and ZF 6-speed automatic transmission made a perfect combination for purposeful grand touring, commuting as well as the occasional twisty bits, and at no point presented any driveability issues. So why did the car receive just an average rating for reliability? Well, let's not forget that it's British.
Not to take away anything from a country that has motor oil practically running through its veins and is responsible for some of the most spectacular vehicles history has ever seen, but show us a British car without quirks and we'll show you a car that doesn't exist. Fortunately our XK's quirks were relatively benign and of the electrical variety. On two separate occasions both driver and passenger seats seized in what some would consider the "low-rider" position, meaning fully reclined. The driver-seat occurrence made it slightly more uncomfortable to get to the dealership, but was fixed (the servo replaced) quickly and with virtually zero downtime.
The other issue we had with the electrical system had to do with our "smart key" keyless ignition. It is mentioned in the owner's manual that under certain circumstances, the key may not register in the car if electronic interference is present. In such a case, there is a fail-safe slot for the key in the center armrest to eliminate, or at least attempt to eliminate, these mystical wavelengths. Inexplicably, our XK on a few occasions would refuse to start, but then self-resolve the issue just as unexpectedly a short time later. Because this quirk was erratic and therefore not replicable at servicing, we learned to accept it as part of the DNA.
As for the interior, as long as you're careful with what you allow people to bring into the car, you can be safe with a light-color choice. Our light interior held up relatively well and played a critical role in preventing the XK from becoming an Easy-Bake Oven when subjected to California sunshine.
Finally, a couple words of advice to owners and future owners of fine aluminum-bodied Jaguars: Avoid at all costs! This may sound as logical as "don't lick the exhaust manifold when the car is running," but the consequences of a minor dent on a steel-fendered car is a different story for aluminum. We had a small and extremely low-speed incident early in the test and came close to needing a replacement door because of the easily fractured nature of aluminum. This could quickly rack up costs with any impact greater than ours, as fenders are riveted together, not bolted, and repairs are required to be done in workshops specially prepared to handle aluminum work — Cha-ching! Oh, and if you get black, keep it clean.