1999 Jaguar XJ8

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1999 Jaguar XJ8

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Available in 4 styles:  XJ8 4dr Sedan Base shown
Asking Price Range
$2,720–$5,196
Estimated MPG

16–17 city / 22–24 hwy

Expert Reviews

By 

The Morning Call and Mcall.com

With its luscious lines and sensational handling, the Jaguar is a car that never ceases to attract the attention of the fairer sex.

Jaguar's latest also captured my attention, because the good gents from Coventry have replaced the six- and 12-cylinder engines with a four-liter V8 that first saw service in the XK-8 coupe.

Jaguar's sedan line, the XJ series, comes in four flavors: standard wheelbase XJ8, long-wheelbase XJ8L, luxury-laden XJ-8 Vanden Plas, and the ferocious supercharged XJ-R. I tested the top-of-the-line Vanden Plas.

Of course, there's more new besides the engine, including an all-new electrical system (no Lucas here) and redesigned interior.

The new V8, rated at 290 horsepower, is so smooth and refined it positively purrs. With its double overhead cam, four valves per cylinder and aluminum alloy block and head, there's sufficient power from a stop, but power really builds as engine speed does. It lets out a subtle growl that's rich, yet never unrefined.

To handle the 290 foot-pounds of torque, theengine is mated to a five-speed ZF automatic are timed for quicker response. It's effective.

The J-gated shifter allows for manually stirring the automatic, which is accommodated in the same seamless manner as the fully automatic mode.

All XJ sedans are fitted with Automatic Stability Control. It limits wheel spin in inclement weather by controlling ignition, fuel injection, and throttle response when tire slip is detected. But this long sedan seemed to handle bad weather with little effort.

When it comes to powerful luxury cars, nothing beats the balanced feel of rear drive. Certainly Jaguar has it down. The suspension is fully independent, comprising unequal-length upper and lower wishbones up front and double wishbone out back. The variable-assist power rack and pinion steering is superb, striking the proper balance between silkiness and road feel. The same can be said of the ride, something at which Jaguar always excels and few automakers match.

The XJ-8 is wonderful as a four-door grand tourer, adept at gliding with royal serenity down the motorways or carving through corners with cat-like quickness. Throughout it all, the interior is hushed.

The weather often turns foul in Britain, so this executive shuttle offers two levels of traction control. The first is the aforementioned standard-issue Automatic Stability Control. It will work in concert with the optional traction control system to apply the brakes when wheel slip is detected. Brakes are large and bring the car swiftly to a halt with the unshakeable nature of a beefeater.

Of course, trying to maneuver this long machine will test your driving skill. With its 117.9-inch wheelbase, 70.8-inch width and 40.7-foot turning circle, you must drive with utmost skill and patience in parking lots.

Inside, passengers are treated to an opulence that could come only from Coventry. With exquisite wood veneers and sumptuous upholstery, the car is outfitted properly for its station. With its long, lithe lines, some complain that the seats are a little low, but this is a Jaguar, after all, and the concession to style is worth it. Leg room in back is palatial, and Vanden Plas models come with fold-down tray tables and lamb's wool carpet thicker than a Buckingham Place tapestry.

What's so nice about all the opulence is that the car has the catlike agility to back it up.

Of course, any car that starts to reach house-price territory should have a full complement of equipment, and this cat does.

Let's start in the back, or boot as its called in England. It's ventilated.

In the passenger cabin, all the gadgets one has come to expect on such an upper-crust auto are there: built-in, programmable garage door openers; electrochromatic rear-view mirror; Jaguar's signature wood steering wheel; power adjustable steering column; sunroof; automatic climate control; lots of wood, leather and carpeting; front and side air bags; and even twilight sentinel.

What also comes standard? Sex appeal. Lots of it. And that's one thing I love about this sleek cat. It has this writer growling with approval.

1999 Jaguar XJ8 Vanden Plas

Engine: 4.0-liter V8 Transmission: five-speed automatic Tires: 225/60ZR-16 Standard: Power windows/locks/mirrors, premium leather, lamb's wool carpeting, twilight sentinel, power moonroof, security system, front and rear fog lamps, driver memory system, walnut trim Major options: Premium sound system, weather package Base price: $63,800 EPA rating: 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway Test mileage: 20 mpg

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