Jaguar is an automaker with a long sporting history. From the very beginning, the company has staked their reputation upon crafting not only some of the finest luxury automobiles that the world has ever seen, but also a great many race cars and sports coupes, some of which have been dubbed the most beautiful designs ever to have been etched into sheet metal. Perhaps the pinnacle of two-door Jaguar engineering was achieved in the 1960's with the XKE, a long-hooded, V-12 powered mechanical masterpiece that was every inch the match for the beautiful vehicles coming out of Italy during the same era. This automobile would become the prototype for all subsequent Jaguar coupes to emerge from the British car company.
Unfortunately for Jaguar, while they were able to keep up stylistically with the shifting trends of the luxury car business, from a reliability perspective their vehicles were almost a complete disaster. Suffering from an extreme case of over-engineering, coupled with faulty electrical systems which were not capable of handling extended use, Jaguar began to lose the respect of the automobile industry in general and buyers in particular as their exquisite coupes became maintenance nightmares after a few years of ownership. The pull of the company's history combined with the performance of the vehicles when still in new condition were enough to draw the required amount of sales to keep the company on life support, but by the 1990's it was clear that something drastic had to occur at Jaguar if the automaker was going to survive past the new millennium.
The savior came in the unlikely form of Ford, who offered not only their vast reserves of cash but also their technical expertise, especially when it came to mass-producing reliable cars. In celebration of their new lease on life, Jaguar went about creating a new coupe that would capture the spirit of the company's image but also benefit from the new resources that they had at their disposal. The result was the Jaguar XK, a stunningly attractive two-door that made use of the first 8-cylinder engine ever to find itself underneath the hood of the illustrious brand. This article takes a look at the best used coupe available from Jaguar and explains the many features and capabilities that make it an excellent way to wash away the bad taste left by other, less worthy products to have worn the leaping cat hood ornament.
1998 - 2006 Jaguar XK
The 1998 - 2006 Jaguar XK maintains the same grace of the traditional Jaguar coupe design, but updates it to bring it fully into the modern era. Gone is the namesake ornament from the hood and in its place is a round badge bearing the growling face of a fierce jungle cat. The lines of the vehicle have far more in common with the organic curves of the original XKE than they do with the previous generation coupe's ruler-straight body work. A menacing front oval sucks in all the air needed to cool down the hot power plant resting underneath the muscular hood, and a tapered tail is reminiscent of the Le Mans racers of 40 years back.
The Jaguar XK comes in two distinct flavors. The XK8 provides drivers with a 290 horsepower, 4.0-liter V-8 that also churns out 290 lb-ft of torque. The XKR ups the ante by supercharging the same engine, increasing power by an additional 80 ponies and introducing a whole new level of tire-burning excitement into the XK equation. Both vehicles are matched with a 5-speed automatic transmission that uses the famous J-gate shifter. In 2003, both engines saw their displacement increased to 4.2 liters, increasing power in the XKR to 390 and adding a nice torque bump to the normally-aspirated XK8. The transmission was also replaced with a 6-speed unit.
The inside of each Jaguar coupe is amazingly well appointed. Genuine wood accents on the dash frame an analog clock and simple to use switches and buttons which makes the cockpit of the XK a very welcoming place to be. The vehicle's sharply sloping roofline means that the rear seats best left to children, but the front two buckets do not want for leg room, and the beautiful leather bolsters grip the body well during harder cornering. There are almost no options to be ordered on either car, although DVD navigation can be specified for those who want an additional touch of modernity to their vehicle's dash.
The 1998 - 2006 Jaguar XK provides enough power, poise and sheer attractiveness to satisfy even the most demanding used coupe buyer.