Jaguar For 1997
By Carey Russ
What's new at Jaguar? How about the company's first new sports car in 21 years. Yes, the XK8 is finally here. Jaguar also has a full range of luxury sedans, including the XJ6, high-performance XJR, and long-wheelbase XJ6L and Vanden Plas.
It's here and it was worth the wait. In fact, the first shipments of XK8 coupes and roadsters to North America were sold out before they arrived. But fear not, more are on the way, with 60% of production slated for the U.S. market.
The goal of the XK8 design team was refined performance. The car is not a thinly-disguised racer in the manner of the legendary E- Type, but a comfortable grand touring machine. The XK8 combines elegant luxury and sophisticated power. Although the interior abounds with Connolly leather and burled walnut in the finest British tradition, and the body shape recalls some classic Jaguars, the chassis and powertrain are fully contemporary. Jaguar's first V8 nestles under the hood and drives the rear wheels through a 5-speed electronically- controlled automatic transmission. The 4.0-liter AJ-V8 is an aluminum, dual overhead cam, 32-valve design that makes a smooth 290 horsepower.
Although the XK8 comes as a sleek coupe as well, the graceful, sporting roadster is expected to make up 80% of sales. The convertible top offers one-button operation with automatic power latching.
Jaguar makes sedans in two wheelbases, with varying combinations of luxury and performance. For the performance enthusiast, the XJR combines British luxury appointments with 322 supercharged horsepower. The long-wheelbase Vanden Plas is pure English luxury on four wheels. The XJ6L is the long-wheelbase equivalent of the company's best-selling XJ6 sedan. Both offer a uniquely British luxury sedan experience.
The Jaguar sedans have only minor revisions for 1997.