Jaguar XK8 Coupe(2001)


With the XK8 coupe, Jaguar has succeeded in building a muscle car for rich older guys. We know Jaguar's PR department will never again invite us to their annual clambake in the Hamptons once we've said this, but the XK8 reminded us of nothing so much as a Chevy Camaro for the over-50, seven-figure-income set.

The XK8 has been around for a few years and has received minor changes from year to year. It's available as a coupe or a convertible and in a supercharged, XKR version that's rated at a ridiculous 370 horsepower. In the past we've admired Jaguars for their refined styling, their posh interiors, and their tuchus-cradling ride. But this Jaguar doesn't seem like the kind of vehicle you'd be happy owning and driving day after day, in ourhumble opinion -- particularly given its premium cars.com target price of $66,000.

Driving EXperience

JaguarThe 290-horsepower V8 has tons of power. (In fact, its rating of .078 horsepower per pound runs seriously afoul of Tommy's proposed .06 limit.) Its drivetrain follows the classic muscle-car layout, with the rear wheels driven through, in this case, a five-speed automatic transmission.

The sporting character of the XK8 carries over to the handling, which is quick, and the ride, which is firm. We've become accustomed to being coddled when behind the wheel of a Jaguar, so the stiff ride was something we weren't expecting. It wasn't as quiet as we've found other Jaguars to be either.

Interior

The rakish XK8 is a triumph of form over function -- and, yes, that's not meant as a compliment. Unlike a lot of modern designs where function wins out over form, like the Ford Focus and the Toyota Echo (both of which provide good interior space by raising the roof), the XK8 is cramped, with a low roofline, steeply raked windshield, and small side windows that provide mediocre visibility. Styling was primary here.

Although it has four sets of seat belts, don't be fooled: The rear seats are more a philosophical notion than an actual place to sit. It's very tight back there, and we don't suspect anyone would spend more than a few seconds with his knees pressed against his nose before invoking Geneva Convention protection.

As befits a luxury car, lots of leather and genuine wood trim has been slathered on the inside of the XK8. Standard equipment includes climate control, side air bags, automatic stability control, fog lights, heated seats, headlight washers, a trip computer, a six-disc CD changer, cruise control, a storage console, power trunk release, and a power tilt-telescope steering wheel. There's probably a cappuccino maker in there somewhere, too, but we didn't find it.

Ergonomics

When our esteemed Producer, Doug Berman, drove this car, he found that his right foot kept catching on something under the dash. Could it be a misrouted wiring harness, or a dangling bracket of some kind? Dougie investigated. Turns out it was the steering column cover, something that really can't be moved without the aid of tin snips. Doug's shoe size is not overly large (when people call him "Bozo," they're not referring to his feet), so it's fair to assume that many other people may encounter the same problem.

One of the things that Ford Motor Co. did when it took control of Jaguar was to drag the company's dashboard designs into the late 20th century. So, thankfully, the XK8's dash has modern touches, such as large, clear dials and easy-to-use controls on the stalks, right where you expect to find them. However, Ford's work here is not finished, in our humble opinion. There's aclutter of switches on the console in front of the shifter that aredifficult to sort out, and one common feature of luxury cars -- a one-touch button to raise the driver's window -- is missing.

On the positive side, Jaguar did do one thing that we wish all auto makers would do: It made it impossible to program the navigation system while the car is in motion. That is a nice safety feature, and we commend Jaguar for the thoughtfulness of its design. The only other vehicle we've run across that does this is Infiniti's Q45. Now, if Jaguar would just relocate the clock from the navigation screen, we could still tell the time when the system's off.

Styling


Styling is obviously the high point of this car. Jaguar has produced a car that looks very, very sleek and sharp. The XK8 coupe is a cool-looking car.

Reliability

To be perfectly honest, we have no idea how reliable the XK8 will be over the long run. We'd buy as much eXtended warranty as the state law allows.

Maintenance We'd expect the service and maintenance costs to be higher than average -- but what do you want for a car that costs well over $60,000? Don't expect your local mechanic to be working on this car either. Unless your zip code is 90210, we seriously doubt he's seen many XJ8's coming his way. This is a car you'll want to have serviced at the dealer.
Overall comments

So what's the difference between an XK8 and a Camaro? Well, it's big, actually. The Camaro is a real piece of junk. But, both cars are claustrophobia-inspiring two-seaters masquerading as four-seaters. Both are rear-wheel drive with inordinately powerful V8 engines -- 290 horsepower for the Jaguar, 310 for the Chevy. The Jaguar is less than an inch longer in wheelbase and just a half a foot longer overall. Of course, there is that slight difference in price: You can buy three Camaros for the price of one Jaguar. However, the Jaguar is in a different league in terms of its comfort and quality.

View cars.com model report on this vehicle.


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