Jaguar XK8 (1997)

Jaguar XK8 (1997)

Tom: "I have to start off by telling you a sad story. I went to pick up myson at the ritzy prep school where my destitute wife and I pour all of ourdineros. So, of course, I figure I'll take the Jag to pick him up. Theparking lot is full of Mercedes and Range Rovers and all those sorts of highfalutin cars. As my son is getting into the car, one of his friends says,'What is that?' My son says, 'It's a Jaguar!' And what does the kid say?He says, 'Oh. I thought it was a Buick.' The fact was that this Jaguar wasmistaken for a Buick! Talk about failure! They took the classic Jaguar look andthe Buick-ized it. Ouch."

Ray: "Some of my neighbors thought it was a Ford Probe. Of course, myneighbors are on Social Security and get Depends in bulk by mail order...butthat is my fundamental problem with this car, too. It doesn't look thatgreat. I mean, the lines of the Jaguar XJ-S were positively classic. ThisJaguar looks like the guys who designed the Taurus designed this in theirspare time. It looks awfully like a Ford Taurus."

Tom: "Which would make sense, after all, since Ford now owns Jaguar."

Ray: "Now, we should say that not everybody felt this way. A number ofpeople thought this car was drop-dead gorgeous. And it certainly didattract a lot of attention wherever it went. So, maybe it's just notdesigned to appeal to people as old and fat as we are. Who knows?"

Tom: "Despite the fact that we personally didn't find the styling veryappealing, there are a lot of very promising things about this new Jaguar.And that's the flip side of Ford's influence. For the first time ever, theergonomics in a Jaguar are great. I remember several years ago, driving aJaguar convertible in the rain, and as hard as I tried, I couldn't figureout how to use the front windshield defogger. I was trying every button andslider on the dashboard. Eventually, I gave up and wiped the thing with mysleeve! Can you imagine? A $70,000 car, and you're wiping off the insideof the windshield with your sleeve? But, that's the way Jaguars were,before Ford. Now, it's got a perfectly understandable, easy-to-use,effective ventilation system that even a moron like my brother can figure out."

Ray: "And that's true for the ergonomics in general. The electric windowswitches, light switches, wiper switches--all that stuff not only makessense, but my guess is that it will work reliably...which is more than youcould be sure of in a pre-Ford Jaguar. Although, I should add that thisJaguar had the most annoying turn-signal flasher noise I've heard since TheBrady Bunch went off the air."

Tom: "With any luck, Ford will influence the reliability of this new V-8engine, too. The engine is smooth and powerful. You always feel thatyou've got more than enough power left over to pass anything, at any speed.It seems as though you never need to press down more than about aquarter-inch on the gas pedal to go as fast as you ever want to go. And thecar is heavy, so it has a great heavy, powerful feel. The only suggestionof roughness was the final shift into fifth gear. (The car comes with afive-speed automatic transmission.)"

Ray: "Gee, I don't agree. I found that it had a horrible lag when it wasfloored. I was terribly embarrassed one day when I put the pedal to themetal and got passed by a Chevy van! But, to Jaguar's credit, it is anextremely comfortable car on the highway. It's a pain in the butt to get inand out of--much more so than the car it replaced, the XJ-S. You have tokind of slither into it. The car was designed, first and foremost, to lookgood. So, the roof comes down very low in front and back. The result isthat the back seat is useless and the visibility stinks. But, as oneneighbor of mine said, 'Who cares? You don't buy a car like this to see outof...you buy a car like this for people to see *you* in.'"

Tom: "And once you're in, you are *definitely* in the lap of luxury. Thecar surrounds you and coddles you. It handles great! I drove it back fromConnecticut in a blinding rainstorm, and it held the road beautifully."

Ray: "Speaking of that trip to Connecticut--that ashtray you were using foryour cigars?"

Tom: "That wasn't an ashtray?"

Ray: "That was the coin tray, Frank. No kidding."

Tom: "Oh."

Ray: "My question for Jaguar is this: Who is this car supposed to be for? Iask this because, presumably, the Jaguar XJ-S was an old-fart car. I guessthey're trying to reach out to a younger market, but the question is, whatyounger market has $65,000 to spend--except for drug dealers?"

Tom: "This car is too small for drug dealers. Drug dealers tend to go forBMWs with tinted windows, anyway. I suppose this car is aimed at the LexusSC400 buyer. And, if this car were priced more like the SC400 (closer to$50,000), they'd probably sell more of these cars than they could make."

Ray: "Don't forget, the convertible comes in at $75,000! We'll test-drivethat this summer and let you know what it's like. In fact, if our friendsat Jaguar are reading this, my brother promises not to do any biking thissummer."

Tom: "If possible, we'd like the convertible to arrive at the end of May.And one more thing--we'd like it to stay for three months."

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