2006 XK8 New Car Test Drive
The Jaguar XK should be getting a little long in the tooth, having been introduced in 1996, but it's not. Its styling remains contemporary because it's so classically sleek and gorgeous, while mechanical and electronic upgrades, along with some sheetmetal tweaks, have enabled the big Jag to keep pace with the competition. Although not much if any competition exists, because the car is pretty much in a class by itself. Not really because of its engineering (power, handling and brakes), but because of its exclusivity. Its Jaguar-ness.
The XK is a powerful sports car with two-plus-two seating and accommodations that are more luxury than sporty. It looks and feels like a luxury car inside, handles like a tight luxury sports coupe or convertible. But it offers only an automatic transmission, a six-speed that technically doesn't even have a separate manual mode, although it can be operated manually with the Jaguar J-gate. Even the supercharged XKR, despite its 400 horsepower and brutally fast stance, can't be considered a fully track-worthy sports car because of the automatic transmission, not even with its heritage or its big Brembo brakes. And while it looks like the ultimate sports car, it feels like a cross between a British gentleman's coupe and a big ol' American stock car.
But maybe that's missing the point. Its lithe lines are breathtaking. Mild styling revisions freshen the XK models for 2005, but Jaguar knew not to tinker too much with its work of art. Inside is a forest of rich burl walnut and leather. In some ways, it feels more luxurious than the XJ, Jaguar's flagship luxury sedan. Yet unlike luxury cars overburdened by technology and menu-driven commands, the XK is refreshingly easy to operate, with clearly marked buttons. In short, driving this car is pleasurable and makes you look and feel like a million bucks.
You can get the Jaguar XK8 either as a coupe ($69,830) or convertible ($74,830). The supercharged XKR is also available as coupe ($81,330) or convertible ($86,330).
They all come with a 4.2-liter, 32-valve, 90-degree V8 with aluminum block, heads and pistons, and a six-speed automatic transmission; both engine and transmission were introduced for 2003. The XK8's engine is rated at 294 horsepower and 303 pound-feet of torque.
The XKR seems like a bargain here, when you consider that the Super V8 version of the XJ sedan adds nearly $27,000 to the price, not merely $12,000 (though the XKR gets slapped with a $1,000 federal gas-guzzler tax. The XKR, which Jaguar also likes to call the Super V8 4.2, adds an Eaton Roots type supercharger which boosts horsepower to 390 and torque to a tire-smoking 399. The XKR also uses more deluxe 18-inch alloy wheels, and bigger ventilated brake rotors (14 inches vs. 12.8 inches); not only bigger, but they're the famous Italian Brembos, with floating aluminum calipers. Also standard on the XKR are a computer-controlled active suspension that's unavailable for the XK8, and a DVD navigation system and Xenon headlamps, which are $2400 and $675 options on the XK8. For the XKR Coupe only, there is a special-order Handling Package ($3000) which consists of firmer shocks, springs and antiroll bars, a retuned speed-sensitive power steering, and cross-drilled brake rotors.
Standard equipment for all XK Jags includes Dynamic Stability Control, ABS with Electronic Brake Assist, front and side airbags, an anti-theft engine immobilizer, Alpine audio system with 6CD changer, rain-sensing wipers, leather seats, plus all the luxury equipment you would expect from a $70,000 car, including burl walnut galore.
Adaptive cruise control, which maintains a programmable distance between your XK and the car in front, costs $2200. For the XK8 only, there are 19-inch alloy wheels ($1200). XKR offers optional 20-inch BBS wheels, of which three sets are available, each for a stunning $6000. For the XKR you can also get a performance steering wheel with Momo shift knob ($300), cross-drilled rotors with red calipers ($500) and Recaro seats ($2000). If only you could get a six-speed gearbox, you'd be ready for the track, where a car like this belongs.
Finally, special paint is available for your XK, ranging from $1000 to $7000.
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