Judged at a quick glance, modifications to Jaguar’s sports cars for 2005 might not be evident. Nevertheless, the British luxury-car maker has reworked its XK8 and XKR coupes and convertibles, albeit modestly.
Revamping the XK8 coupe and convertible and their high-performance XKR companions included “tweaks to the front of the car,” marketing vice president George Ayres said. The wheels on the XK8 are 18 and 19 inches in diameter. Standard XK8 models use a 294-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8 and a six-speed-automatic transmission.
An automatic speed limiter is standard in 2005 models. The driver can set a maximum limit, using cruise control, which is then maintained by throttle intervention. Sales began in June 2004.
Some 40,000 XK models have been sold in North America since 1997. A replacement for the XK is under development. The XK will be featured in the upcoming movie “Ocean’s 12.”
Ford Motor Co. has owned Jaguar since December 1989, but the vehicle bodies, platforms and engines are designed and manufactured strictly by Jaguar in England. Jaguar ranked No. 3 behind Lexus and Cadillac in J.D. Power and Associates’ Initial Quality Study.
Restyling features for 2003 included fresh alloy wheels and new badging and headlights, but the XK8’s dramatic, projectile-shaped appearance didn’t change. Modifications for 2005 are modest and centered around the front end. A full-width grille splitter is evident. The side sills have been revised, and the rear bumpers are deeper. Gloss black window finish surrounds are installed.
Riding on standard 18-inch alloy wheels, the XK8 leads off with a bar-type grille that’s unlike the XKR’s wire-mesh rendition. Convertibles have a one-button, automatic-latching power soft-top with a glass rear window and defogger. All XK models have headlight washers.
In theory, these Jaguars will hold four occupants; in reality, they’re 2+2 models that are suitable for just two passengers. Even the two front occupants must employ a certain level of dexterity when climbing into and out of the low-slung XK8, and space is at a premium. Passengers enjoy the lush leather and abundant wood trim that decorate the Jag’s cockpit. The driver faces a wood- and leather-covered steering wheel that tilts and telescopes electrically.
The XK8 has heated front seats and a premium, 320-watt Alpine audio system with a cassette player and six-CD changer. Jaguar’s navigation system is optional.
Under the Hood
The XK8’s 294-hp, 4.2-liter V-8 drives a six-speed ZF automatic transmission.
Jaguar’s Adaptive Restraint Technology System includes side-impact airbags with head-protection extensions mounted in the front-seat backrest cushions, and their deployment is based on input from sensors. Traction control and all-disc antilock brakes are standard. All XK models have Dynamic Stability Control to prevent wheelspin and Emergency Brake Assist to produce the shortest possible braking distance in emergencies. Reverse Park Control emits a warning when the driver approaches an obstacle while backing up.
Heritage counts, especially when it comes to British-built motorcars. Even if its performance lags behind that of some competitors, driving a Jaguar ranks as a memorable experience.
Handling has always been a strong point for Jaguar, even if the XK is more of a boulevard cruiser than a racetrack-ready model. The ride can get a bit jittery on rough pavement, but the suspension nicely absorbs imperfections on most highway surfaces.