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The XK8, its been around for a while now. Since 1996 the Browns Lane factory near Coventry has been churning out these subtle beasts. There have been a number of minor changes to the styling and specifications during that time, but ultimately, the car has stayed the same - an evolution and modern predecessor of the heart-achingly beautiful 60's E-Type. Shortly, the production will cease, making way for the next generation XK that no doubt, will be as equally stunning, yet equally as fast as the current model.
Since its launch in 96', the XK series has always been the flagship for the company. Its £50k+ low-slung, elegant coupe that all discernable gentlemen may aspire to - the top rung of the Jaguar ladder. The car always has been, and still is, the epitome of grace, pace and (if slightly limited) space.
The XK is available in 4 guises - the XK8, and the XKR, both of which can be had as either a rag top, or a coupe. Earlier models come with a 4.0 V8, with the XKR adding a supercharger to the mix. The more recent versions have an enlarged version of this engine - now 4.2 litres. All cars come with Jaguars famous J-Gate automatic gearbox, which is happy to give the occupant a nice quite ride, or with the help of the 'sport' button and an enthusiastic right-foot the big motor up-front spin all the way round to its 7000rpm limiter, which is something the car seems to aim for naturally - it WANTS to be going fast - eating up countries as it tears along a motorway.
Put plainly, the curvy Jag is happy to mooch around town, or, you can find a nice open stretch of road, and it will pull your face off.
The ride is firm, never harsh, but occasionally crashy at low speeds, the CATS suspension much happier twisting its way round a country road, or gliding along a motorway, the quality of the ride is certainly something you can live with.
On to the styling. The XK's 'best bit." Sat in a car-park, especially in a shade of silver or a darker colour, the Jag can slip away amongst the euroboxes of today, looking inconspicuous and subtle. However, if you want a bit more 'show' and an even more imposing aura about the car, go for the phoenix red. If you are considering buying the XKR, this is a must - if you own a £60,000 400bhp car, then sod the subtlety, make sure every Tom, Dick and Harry you meet knows about it. The lines of the car are beautiful, looking over the bonnet you sometimes start believing you really are sitting in an E-Type - the big bulging wings and gracious profile make the Jag still one of the most cool cars out there - hell, if it is good enough for a James Bond baddie, then it has to be cool!
If you live in an area besieged by speed cameras, then you do need to be careful with the XK. Even the base model can do 0-60 in 6.4 seconds, and it won’t stop until you deploy an anchor from the back window, or you reach the cars electronically limited 155mph top speed. The XKR however, is in a completely different league. Do not let the fact that these cars can be had for under £25k and are available in silver fool you. These cars are indecently quick, an early model XKR dispatching with the 0-60 sprint in only 5.4 seconds - that’s faster than a modern-day top of the range £40k Porsche Boxster, and the recent XKR's with their slightly larger engines can keep pace with a 911, NSX or anything that an M3 may care to throw at it. The phrase 'license looser' comes to mind!
And now for the pieste-resistance. The price. You can now go out, and buy an immaculate 1998 S-reg car with well below 70,000miles on the clock, for as little as £20,000. That’s a perfect example, 155mph, £50,000 new, Jaguar main dealer XK8 with all the whistles and bells on for the same price as a middle of the range diesel Vectra, or perhaps you were thinking of a poverty-spec 3 series. £20k won't even get you anywhere near the price of a bottom of the range Discovery, or a Merc C class for that matter. And that won't have leather, electric seats, climate control, any alloy wheels, let alone the 18"ers you get on the big cat. And you try making a C-class diesel (the cheapest of which is £23,000) do 0-60 in 5 seconds or sit at 155mph all day long, alright, it might down a really really steep hill with a rocket strapped to the boot, and even then it wouldn’t look half as good as the Jag would even if it was parked on a council estate in Sheffield.
If all thus sounds too good to be true then think again, it is. It’s so good, my family bought one. And to put the cherry on the cake, the service we received from the Jaguar main dealer, even though they were making peanuts on the car, was exceptional. We went all the way down to a Coventry dealership a 2 hour drive from where we live, and the service we received was amazing, everyone was very helpful, the test drive was great - the route was perfect even taking in, rough back roads that gave the suspension a work out. And it hasn’t stopped there. The after sales service from the garage in our hometown has been equally good, and so far there have been no problems at all with the car.
So then, a £50,000 coupe for Vectra money - what more can I say? Ohh...apart from the fact that unless you are less than 5ft the rear seats are a no-no.
I like the silver but my partner wants green! A 2nd hand one of course but I can't wait. Enjoyed your review :)
Whinger 27.06.2005 00:36
Love this review!! You are a real car enthusiast ... it takes one to know one ... and I have enjoyed immensely your car reviews. I have to say that having driven this car myself I am 100% in agreement with you ... It represents excellent value for money. Tim
olijt20 12.12.2004 22:01
Excellent review, they are undoubtly very good cars.
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