Jaguar For 1998
By Carey Russ
Jaguar is making a very strong comeback. The successful launch of the XK8 sports car last year is followed by a new sedan range for 1998.
As has been the case with Jaguar sedans since the early 1950s, the XJ series of luxury and performance sedans uses an engine first introduced in the company's top-line sports car. In the old days, it was the famed XK twincam straight six from the XK120. The new XJ8 and XJR have the 4.0-liter AJ-V8 V8 that debuted in the XK8 last year.
The new sedans are more than a new engine in the same old chassis. Although they look similar to previous models, the chassis has been strengthened, and the steering, suspension, antilock braking, and wiring systems are new or upgraded. The interiors of all models have been extensively revised, and feature side-impact air bags.
Regular and long-wheelbase models of the XJ8 are available, plus the extremely luxurious long wheelbase Vanden Plas sedan. The XJR, Jaguar's performance sedan, is back. The 1998 XJR uses a 370- horsepower supercharged variant of the AJ-V8 and a 5-speed automatic transmission sourced from Mercedes-Benz. Other XJ models use the naturally-aspirated, 290-horsepower AJ-V8 engine and the same ZF 5-speed automatic transmission as the XK8.
As it enters its second year of production, the XK8 sports car has only minor modifications. New interior and exterior colors, an antitheft engine immobilizer system, and better integration of the optional cellular telephone are the highlights. The XK8 continues to be offered in coupe or convertible form, powered by the 290-horsepower AJ-V8 engine.