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Jaguar XK8

Jaguar XK8 Published: 25th Jan 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jaguar XK8
Jaguar XK8
Jaguar XK8
Jaguar XK8
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Jaguar’s replacement for the marmite XJ-S is a treasure trove of trinkets and a worthy alternative to a DB7 – at bargain prices too

Why you may fancy one

Jaguar’s much needed replacement for the 20 year old XJ-S (but thankfully with subtle E-type overtones) is spectacular value for money as well as a fine car in its own right. Launched just after the Aston Martin DB7 but sharing the same basic design, the considerably cheaper Jag is no second stringer or booby prize.

Offered in coupé and convertible forms, the XK8 comes in normally aspirated (XK8) or supercharged (XKR) guises. Even the entry-level model can do 155mph, yet up to 30mpg is attainable on a more sedate run and it’s a prized pussy that’s easy and affordable to keep.



1996 Launched to replace the XJ-S, albeit still using same basic platform. Power now comes from Jaguar’s all new 4-litre V8 pumping out 290bhp; all are automatic but it’s a good new five-speed design. Jaguar’s CATS (Computer Active Technology Suspension) pack is optional on coupés but standard fare on convertibles.

1998 Scalded cat XKR arrives as coupé or convertible. Supercharged for 370bhp, it outguns the iconic Le Mans D-type racer!

2002 Larger 4.2-litre engine across all ranges allied to new six-speed autoboxes. Regular XK8 yields 300bhp while new 4.2 XKR kicks out 400bhp. Facelift sees classic leather pack and 19-in alloy wheels.



Despite being an automatic only (unlike the six-cylinder Aston Martin) the Jaguar XK8 is a serious GT with real pace and poise. Go for the sizzling XKR versions with their supercharged 370-400bhp engine (depending upon model) marshalled by CATS Computer Active Technology Suspension, bigger brakes plus a revised steering and you have a car that’s as good as any DB7 and yet cheaper to own.

Opt for a later 2002 model with a lustier 4.2-litre V8 (AJ34) and you get practically all the XKR pace without a supercharger (300bhp) from the standard version or go for the full on R and really revel in an astonishing 400bhp; these later revised XK8s also benefit from a six-speed ZF transmission that’s excellent – although all auto versions are notably better than the older four-speed transmission Aston used.

Make no mistake, the XK8 is a genuine cut-price supercar yet still retains what most want from a Jaguar, which is pace, grace, comfort and that sense of occasion.


Best models

It’s universally regarded that the 4.2-litre models from mid 2002 are the best. Apart from more power and torque, there’s new Xeon lighting and the car benefited from 19-inch ‘Apollo’ wheels as standard, with the XKR getting meaty 20-inch ‘Paris’ alloys and Brembo brakes.

A special edition 400, based on the XKR, featuring Alcantara seat inserts plus black, silver or grey paintwork (2003) with the XK8/XKR Premium a year later are worth seeking out. The S limited edition (based on either the XK8 or XKR) with a choice of interior and exterior colour schemes plus 19-inch alloys, signed the range off in style. Earlier special editions were based upon the 4.0 XKR; the Silverstone where just 50 were made in coupé or convertible forms and, for 2001, the ‘100’ limited edition.



You regularly see old yet fairly sound XK8s sell at auction for less than £3000 although these cats have used most of their lives up. It’s better to spend, say double this on a nice, pampered cat that will certainly save you money in the long run. Conversely, the top cats are starting to gain classic status and you can find concours, example at the thick end of £20,000; but you don’t need to spend so much as there’s plenty around. Generally speaking, XK8s are worth less than XKRs and cabrios fetch more than coupés. Colours add value particularly Quartz Grey, Radiance Red and Racing Green. Recaro sports seats are very much worth having as are Brembo brakes, despite their higher maintenance costs.



XK8s are fast becoming desirable and a better bet than an XJ-S for the same outlay. But there are many shabby cats around…


Five top faults



Rust is a major issue, especially in the front footwells and rear wheelarches. The key is to check the floorpans just behind the front subframe, because corrosion here can be costly to fix due to the poor access. Rear bumpers have been known to fall off so check state from underneath.


Engine XK8s

built before 2000 suffer from damaged cylinder bores through high sulphur fuel eroding the Nikasil coating. Some of these early XKs have had fresh powerplants under warranty; chassis numbers 001036 to 042775 were affected.


Engine (2)

Timing gear was a major issue on the V8 with the secondary chain being thrown off after the plastic top tensioner has broken off – a £1200 fix still but most have bween corrected by now.


Running gear

Wheel bearings are a weak spot as are suspension bushes and both issues are mainly compounded by the ultra wide tyres XK8s regularly wear. A thorough test drive is essential.



Interiors can become shabby quickly. Look for tired leather and worn woodwork. Switchgear can be problematic but most are Ford-sourced so easy and cheap to replace.

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