Jaguar XK-Series Review

2008 Jaguar XK-Series XK Convertible

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Jaguar coupes and convertibles have a long history, starting with the iconic E-Type or XKE. It has been lusted after since its introduction in 1961, appearing on teenage boys' bedroom walls, grown men's garages and in movies like the Austin Powers series, where it served as the international man of mystery's Shaguar.

After 22 years of the unloved XJS coupe, Jaguar revived the XK name and spirit in the late 1990s with the stunning XK8 coupe and convertible. Powered by an all-new 290-horsepower V8, it was quick and capable of keeping up with the best of the sub-$100,000 luxury coupe rivals of the time.

Note that this review only covers the period of time (1997-2006) when Jaguar officially referred to its first-generation XK as the "XK-Series." For full coverage of its successor, please see our Jaguar XK review..

Used Jaguar XK-Series Models
They say cats have nine lives and quite appropriately, it takes a long time for Jaguar coupes and convertibles to die. The XKE survived from 1961-'74 before being replaced by the very different XJS, which languished in mediocrity for 22 years before being mercifully put out of its misery.

The Jaguar XK-Series didn't live quite as long, but 10 years is still a long time for an automobile. The 1997 Jaguar XK8 debuted in coupe and convertible body styles, with the XKR arriving in 2000. The standard 290-hp 4.0-liter engine was Jaguar's first-ever V8 and only the fourth all-new engine in its history. We were impressed with its low-end torque and found that it accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. We also thought it was "a hoot to drive" with effortless acceleration, precise steering and a supple suspension.

Inside, the XK8 featured a classic Jaguar look with lots of Connolly leather and walnut trim. Although it began to look antiquated later in life with unintuitive controls and subpar materials, in the retro-crazed late '90s, it was certifiably chic. The car's cramped interior dimensions and small trunk were never in style, however.

In 2003, the Jaguar XK-Series engine was upgraded to 294 hp and 303 pound-feet of torque (from 284 lb-ft), sending the coupe from zero to 60 in 6.1 seconds. That year also saw a new six-speed automatic and more than 900 other mostly minor changes, none of which touched the still-attractive sheet metal. After that, the XK8 prowled about through 2006 without any significant updates.

The high-performance XKR featured a supercharged version of the 4.0-liter V8, making 370 hp and 387 lb-ft of torque. Zero to 60 mph in the coupe was accomplished in 5.1 seconds. The 2003 revisions also applied to the XKR, including a power boost to 390 hp and 399 lb-ft of torque.

Prior to the XK8, Jaguar offered the XJS coupe and convertible. The latter appeared in 1989, replacing the odd "Cabriolet" model, which featured a Jeep Wrangler-esque retractable roof that maintained the window frames. By 1990, a 262-hp 5.3-liter V12 was the standard engine. It was briefly replaced in 1993 by a 4.0-liter inline-6 making only 219 hp, but a new 278-hp 6.0-liter V12 emerged in 1994 to complement the standard six-cylinder. A four-speed automatic replaced the ancient GM TH400 three-speed auto in 1993. In 1992, a new head- and taillight design debuted.

If you are looking for older years, visit our used Jaguar XK-Series page.

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