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Jaguar XK8 (X100) driving report: Coupé from 8000 euros

Rossen Gargolov
Jaguar XK8 in the driving report
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Z at the end of the 20th century Jaguar was surfing the Retro wave. From 1994, the luxury four-door XJ again had its classic four round headlights with corresponding bulges on the bonnet and a more clearly contoured radiator grille.

In addition, the XJ had two little siblings. The S-Type should compete with the E-Class from Mercedes and the five from BMW. He looked like the face of his grandfather of the same name from 1963. Then in 2001 the X-Type was added - the first mid-range Jaguar. The British favored a miniature version of the large XJ based on the Ford Mondeo, which always looked a bit dented and didn't sell very well.

Jaguar XK8 quotes the E-Type in design

The XJS successor, presented in 1996, was also subject to the dictates of 'back to the roots' and optically linked to the legendary E-Type from the 1960s. However, the reminiscences of the classic sports car, such as the oval cooling air opening, the rounded vehicle nose and the raised rear, are pleasingly discreet. The XK8 shows its very own style and still pleases today with its gently curved side line, the parabolic rear side windows and the extremely elongated coupé roof, which alternates between fastback and notchback.

At one point, however, the XK8 breaks radically with the family tradition of Jaguar: Under the bonnet works a super-modern all-aluminum V8 with 2x2 overhead camshafts and a total of 32 valves. The displacement is four liters, the output is 284 hp. With the help of a compressor introduced in the spring of 1998, the engine output even increased to 363 hp. The power version of the XK8 was named XKR and, like the XK8, has also been available as a convertible since its market launch.

Under the completely new and completely different sheet metal cover of the XK8 is the revised floor pan of the predecessor XJS . This is revealed by the identical wheelbase of 2.59 meters and a similarly constructed rear axle, which again has load-bearing drive shafts, but dispenses with internal brake discs. But now we want to know how this wild mix of old and new actually works.

Smooth luxury in a tightly cut British

If you stand next to the XK8 and open its door, you are firstonce surprised by the low height of the almost 4.80 meter long coupé, which inspires a certain respect. In our photo model, the effect is reinforced by the lowering of the body. So you slide down into the driver's seat like in a Porsche 911 and have to duck your head. Once you have made yourself comfortable on the leather seat, you look at one of the last, visually extremely realistic looking wooden dashboards. Simple round instruments and black ventilation grilles are embedded in the attractive walnut root wood. By doing without chrome strips, there is even an appealing retro effect. Only the black plastic keypad on the center console and the typical Jaguar automatic selector lever with J-shaped shift gate ('J-Gate') are signs of progress.

The sports coupé offers plenty of space behind the steering wheel But not the format of a full-fledged five-car BMW (E39). The handbrake lever, traditionally placed to the left of the driver's seat, can almost only be operated when the door is open. Thanks to the smooth and almost imperceptible automatic functioning as well as sensibly positioned switches and levers, the driver doesn't have to move much in the tightly cut XK8 cockpit. Almost noiselessly, yet powerfully, the silky light alloy V8 gets the Jaguar Coupé going. Only at higher speeds - for example provoked by a sudden kick-down - does the engine respond with a gritty growl.

Jaguar XK8 convinces with comfort rather than sport

When approaching the first corners, the heavy weight of the Jaguar is noticeable. The brakes decelerate the 1.6-ton truck very effectively, but when turning in, the somewhat sluggish steering and, above all, the chassis, which is geared towards comfort, convey just a satisfactory level of agility. The XK8 clearly feels more indebted to its comfortable father, the XJS, than to its well-trained grandfather, the E-Type.

Despite borrowing from the former parent company Ford - a few switches and an emergency key in Fiesta style - the big Jaguar stands out -Coupé with its luxurious complete equipment: Electrically adjustable steering wheel and leather seats with memory function, air conditioning, music system and the computer-controlled CATS suspension system (optional) make everyday Jaguar life much easier - if they all work well.

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