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Jaguar XK8 vs Aston martin DB7

SISTERS UNDER THE SKIN? Published: 12th Mar 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

What The Experts Say...

Both cars look absolute bargains but their respective specialists advise extreme care when buying. There’s a lot of old shabby XK8s around which need their purchase price again spent on getting them into proper order. Much the same can be levelled at early DB7s where their tempting prices are causing many to take that big leap into Aston ownership. Keep a good maintenance budget advises http://www.trinityastonmartin.co.uk or the affair could quickly turn sour.

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You can buy a DB7 for less than £15K or an XK8 for a third of this! So is the Aston worth the extra? Our test team adjudicates
The trouble with introducing an entry model to a prestige carmaker’s line up is that it can backfire. Porsche did it with the 924 and was slated but Aston got off more lightly with the DB7 even though it was called a ‘Jag in drag’. Whatever your views about the 924 (we quite like ‘em here-ed) the VW/Audi parts bin special did save Porsche and, likewise without the aid of Jaguar, they’d be no DB7 and probably no Aston Martin either.

Launched just years apart in the 1990s when both were owned by giant Blue Oval, it’s no coincidence that the DB7 and the XK8 look so similar.

But are they so much different to drive and own – and what’s the better car? There’s only one way only to find out… FIGHT!!!

BOTH ARE XJ-S DERIVED

Despite their apparent similarity the cars are aimed at different markets and its not all price driven, either. It’s easy to forget that the DB7 arrived on the scene before the XK8 and – to us anyway
– looks the more attractive. Although the lines are broadly similar the Aston manages to be lower and leaner looking like a sort of modern DB4. In contrast the XK8 appears to be aping the old E-type in an attempt to woo back disaffected Jag lovers who hated the very sight of the XJ-S.

Of course with an Aston you expect better breeding and while the DB7 relies upon the same basic XJ-S platform, it manages to look and feel more the thoroughbred. This has something to do with the fact that the DB7 was developed by the late Tom Walkinshaw and his once giant TWR tuning business as a less compromise GT than the Jag and you gather this as much once behind the wheel.

Originally the Aston used the Jaguar AJ6 straight six as its power source, supercharged and again, although it could have easily and perhaps more cheaply used a straight XJR lump, Walkinshaw decided to make the engine block more racer-like with a shorter stroke for 3.2-litres and a more specialist build. At 317bhp it sits mid-way between the standard XK’s 4-litre 290bhp and the 370bhp provided by the supercharged XKR.

This is the later Jaguar V8 remember, which went to 4.2-litre in 2002 yielding 300bhp and 400bhp respectively.

Aston’s answer was to ditch the original six for its established V12 with a whopping 420bhp! And both companies, fighting over the same customer base, were owned by thrifty bean-counting Ford…

If you demand manual shifting then only the Aston can oblige as the Jaguar is an automatic only. That said it uses a more modern self shifter, providing five cogs over the Aston’s four-speeder plus features that delightful ‘Randle handle’ J-gate selector that works as a ‘semi auto’ and is far preferable over the Aston’s traditional selector gait.

Both cars can be had in look-at-me convertible form that look equally great with the hood up or down. Despite their price gulf, trim levels and options were always broadly equal but again while the XK8 is typically Jaguar special, the Aston manages to look and feel that bit more exclusive although that could partly be due to the fact that it was the first truly modern Aston interior and one that is miles better than the older Virage cabin; that car used far too much Ford Scorpio components for its own good.

Jaguar essentially made just ‘base’ cars but with a wealth of optional extras also available. There was two special editions; Special and the Silverstone of which only 100 of each were made and as you’d expect these models command the best prices.

The Aston’s even more exclusive as you’d expect from this specialist carmaker with a relative handful of Zagatos, Vantage Volantes and a 10th anniversary run out for those who wanted something different.

Perhaps the deal clincher lies in the screen prices. Costing some £35,000 more than the Jag, when new an Aston remains on at least double the price of what you can expect to pay for an XK8. Does this mean that the more exclusive Aston is twice the car? Only a paying buyer can judge that…

WHAT’S THE BEST TO DRIVE?

A QUESTION OF CHARACTER

You only need to drive the two cars a short while to discover their differing characters. The Aston feels more racer- like in certain quarters even if such disparities are slim. Take performance for example. Whatever car or engine you opt for, speed isn’t an issue – it’s how it’s delivered. In the Aston that supercharged six has a different character to the outwardly similar XJR engine, feeling the more eager, if hardly quicker; some may even say less pleasant. The V12 is a brilliant unit, but so then is the Jaguar V8 lump which in both normally-aspirated

Both cars can be had in look-at-me convertible form that look equally great with the hood up or down. Despite their price gulf, trim levels and options were always broadly equal but again while the XK8 is typically Jaguar special, the Aston manages to look and feel that bit more exclusive although that could partly be due to the fact that it was the first truly modern Aston interior and one that is miles better than the older Virage cabin; that car used far too much Ford Scorpio components for its own good.

Jaguar essentially made just ‘base’ cars but with a wealth of optional extras also available. There was two special editions; Special and the Silverstone of which only 100 of each were made and as you’d expect these models command the best prices.

The Aston’s even more exclusive as you’d expect from this specialist carmaker with a relative handful of Zagatos, Vantage Volantes and a 10th anniversary run out for those who wanted something different.

Perhaps the deal clincher lies in the screen prices. Costing some £35,000 more than the Jag, when new an Aston remains on at least double the price of what you can expect to pay for an XK8. Does this mean that the more exclusive Aston is twice the car? Only a paying buyer can judge that…

OWNING AND RUNNING

NEITHER WILL PROVE CHEAP

Like-for-like the XK8 will always prove to cheaper to own. Neither are economy cars to keep in the manner they were once accustomed to but anything coming an Aston rather than Jaguar box is bound to be that bit dearer… In fact, there’s quite a lot of common ground if you know what to look for although some specialists we’ve spoken to believe Aston parts – such as suspension bushes for instance – to be better made.

As the Aston’s ‘six’ is a Coventry Cat unit, there’s no reason why an independent Jag garage can’t accommodate you and probably be cheaper than an Aston Martin repairer too, although there’s more to maintain with a DB7. Spare parts are easier to obtain for the XK8 as certain DB7 parts are obsolete. We’ve also heard of owners asking for a cheaper XK8 engine to be fitted if the Aston units go bang.

And it might sound daft but the Jaguar may well last longer and stay in better nick because, amazingly, Aston reduced the rust-proofing on post 2002 cars simply to cut costs. As a result some cars have even failed the MOT test due to extensive rot… So get out and get under even if it is a frankly crazy situation for a well-heeled enthusiast to be in!

Fuel economy is hardly a burning issue… or is it these days? Both the DB7 and the XK8 are considerably more frugal than their forbearers and with moderation you’ll see more than 20mpg from both and perhaps as high as 25mpg from the Jaguar’s frugal V8 say owners.

And The Winner Is...

Looking at it logically the XK8 is the best bet. It’s graceful, fast and does everything the Aston will do for less cash – perhaps for half the outlay. But, logic plays a small part in buying a classic! For that reason we’d gladly cough up to own an Aston Martin perhaps because the DB7 is the only chance left for many of us to do so. That old homily ‘If it looks right, it’s right’ describes the DB7 to a tee.



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