What's New for 2002
No major changes.
The XK8 comes in four distinctive styles: the curvaceous XK8 Coupe and Convertible and the high-performance XKR Coupe and Convertible. Our favorite is the XKR, for obvious reasons.
New for 2002; the limited edition XKR 100 replaces the Silverstone models of 2001, and offers a host of super-luxury features (including seats covered in Connolly Autolux leather, the finest grade of hide offered by the manufacturer) and special aluminum trim. Only 300 of these cars will be imported to North America, of a total of 500 produced worldwide.
Stylistically, the XKR is one of the best-looking luxury coupes (or convertibles) available. Headlights slope off with a feline's squint and lead to lines that hark back to earlier Jaguars. The hood's subtle contours form two long, graceful indentations that, from inside, conform nicely to the driver and passenger positions. Convertibles feature a power-operated top that lowers, raises and locks into place with the push of a button, as long as the car is moving at speeds under 10 miles per hour.
Like most sporting Gran Turismos, legroom for the front passengers is excellent, but rear-passenger accommodations are quite minimal. The XKR's luxury materials are impressive, with Connolly leather used on the seats, center console, door panels and steering wheel. The leather is matched up with extensive use of burl walnut wood. Another nice touch is the chrome interior door handles that feature integrated power door locks. Much of the plastic is disappointing, however. It reeks of Ford's influence, and often looks like it was lifted from a Crown Victoria.
Standard on the XKR is a GPS navigation system. The navigation system is fussy to operate, but it is DVD-based, which means it can store considerably more point-of-interest information than a CD ROM-based system.
The XKR's calling card is its DOHC, 32-valve 4.0-liter V8 engine. With a huge Eaton M112 supercharger, twin air-to-liquid intercoolers, and minor structural changes, the XKR's engine cranks out 370 horsepower at 6,150 rpm and 387 foot-pounds of torque at 3,600 rpm. Acceleration is impressive, with the XKR reaching 60 mph from rest in just 5.2 seconds. To handle this extra power, Jaguar gives the XKR an upgraded suspension and 18-inch wheels. A smooth-shifting and intuitive five-speed automatic is the only transmission available.
On the road, XKRs provide impressive grip during hard cornering. This does not come at the expense of ride quality, as the Jag is comfortable and quiet on high-speed cruises. The speed-sensitive steering is slightly overboosted, but it will nevertheless guide you through turns with precision. Automatic Stability Control (ASC) is standard.
XKRs are fine cars in either coupe or convertible form. This is about as close to a classic GT car as you can get. Jaguar's closest competition at this level comes from Mercedes with its CLK430, CLK55 and SL500. The German cars are likely to be better values, but they can't match the Jaguar's level of class and grace.