SEE ALSO: Jaguar Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 69,900 Price As Tested $ 72,310 Engine Type 4.0 Liter V8 w/SPFI* Engine Size 244 cid/3996 cc Horsepower 290 @ 6100 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 284 @ 4200 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 101.9"/72"/187.4" Transmission Five-speed automatic Curb Weight 3875 Pounds Fuel Capacity 19.9 gallons Tires (F/R) 245/50ZR17 Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Four-passenger/two-door Domestic Content 5 percent Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.36 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 17/24/20 0-60 MPH 7 seconds 1/4 Mile (E.T.) 15.5 seconds @ 93 mph Top speed 155 mph * Sequential port fuel injection
(It had been a long time since Bob Hagin drove a "proper" Jaguar sports car and he has the scars to prove it. His son Matt liked the Jaguar XK8 roadster that the team had for a week but found it an expensive "toy.")
MATT - Jaguar has come a long way in shaking its pre-Ford image as a beautiful and prestigious, but unreliable car, Dad. It's the first time there's been a V8 under the leaping cat mascot and there's more than a trace of Dearborn in the way it sounds and the way it runs. It's only 4.0 liters in size, but it puts out 290 horses at 6100 revs. The company calls it the AJ-V8 engine and it's a pleasure to go over the specs. It carries two chain-driven cams per head, four valves per cylinder and a "trick" oil-pressure-adjusted cam timing mechanism. Unfortunately it's only brought into the states with an automatic transmission, but our test car would nonetheless do 0 to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds.
BOB - The transmission is pretty well state-of-the-art, Matt. It's a five-speed made by Z-F of Germany and it's ratios are chosen to keep the engine on top of the torque curve as much as possible. The driver can select a "sports" mode to extend the shift points, or select the optional traction control when the roads get slick or wet. The car is a bit heavy at almost 3900 pounds, but it still moves along at a good clip. The body shape is slightly reminiscent of the old E-Type Jag of the early '60s with its oval air inlet, but the cockpit is more commodious, which adheres to idea that the XK8 is a luxo-sports car rather than a thinly disguised racer like the XKE. One of the things that I noticed about driving the car that was slightly eerie was the unusual feel of the throttle operating mechanism. It's all done electronically and it isn't bad - just different.
MATT - The car has power "everything," of course, and I liked the swing-away steering wheel that makes getting in and out fairly easy. The interior only comes in leather upholstery and the walnut trim is very British. Our car came with a pretty expensive lineup of optional equipment, too. The premium sound system adds $1800, the all-weather package is $2000 more, the chrome rims are another $1000 and the CD changer increases it by $800. Even the special paint is "pricey" at an additional $1000 on the MSRP. This is definitely not an econobox convertible at $72,000. Driving it around made me a little nervous at first and I'm not sure if it was the price of the thing or the fact that it was the center of attention wherever I drove it.
BOB - Jags have always been that way, Matt. When the original XK 120 first appeared in '48, its design was years ahead of its competition and it's 3.2 liter six banger was a twin-cam even then. There wasn't much on the road that could come close to it in performance and style. Thankfully the top of this new XK8 is lots easier to manipulate than that '48 version. It's a one-handed operation and can be lowered or by just pushing a button. On the original XK 120, it was sometimes easier to simply drive in the rain with down rather than wrestle it into position. That's why I never really loved ragtops, and I still don't.
MATT - There's a coupe version available too, Dad, but I think that this kind of car needs to be an open sportster. There's no pretense at being a practical grocery-getter and the nine-cubic-foot trunk is just large enough for a couple of sets of golf clubs or two overnight bags, but forget about taking it on a double-date. The back seat would be tight even for very small children. It's not really a roadster like the XK 120 in that it has windows in the doors. They're one-touch electrics, of course, and have a very neat fit into the side rails of the top. When it's erected, the top provides a very tight and wind-free interior environment.
BOB - The previos Jag XJS was around for 21 years and the E-Type went on for 14 years before that. I wonder how long the new XK8 will be around?
MATT - From what you've told me about British marketing strategy, Dad, I think Jaguar will make the XK8 as long as people will buy them.