- The Washington Times - Friday, January 24, 2003

The XK8, in both coupe and convertible configurations, is an outstanding example of "Jaguar-ness." High quality continues to be of primary concern in the evaluation of vehicles manufactured by the Jaguar car team who refer to that quality or essence as "Jaguar-ness." What exactly is Jaguar-ness?

Essentially, Jaguar-ness comes from producing gracefully sculpted automotive forms that also serve as stylish packaging for race-bred and proven machines that tend to stir the souls of adventurous and passionate motorists a practice that has been in place for decades. It is a feeling a sensibility if you will for the luxury, elegance, refinement, power, performance and handling inherent in Jaguar cars.

It constitutes an outward statement regarding personal taste and a heralding of one's plateau of success as well as an inner sense of pleasure, excitement and satisfaction simultaneously.

Jaguar seems to have a penchant for doing things in the proper manner.

The XK8 with its sleek, racy form and V-8 power, is indeed a vibrant reincarnation of the sporting image that was once Jaguar and it continues today, growing ever better with each new model.

When the XK8, first appeared, it offered design elements that were suggestive and reflective of its legendary "E" type predecessor.

The front end bears a very strong resemblance to the XKE's design cues a sort of retrospective elegance or reflection of some of the more stirring elements to have graced classic past models, while at the same time managing to incorporate modern, state-of-the-art technology and performance capabilities, not to mention safety enhancements and the incorporation of ecological principles in manufacturing techniques and materials.

The XK8 became the first-ever production V-8 engine to power the legendary Jaguar marque.

Reinforcement of the XK8 convertible sill areas and additional cross braces under the engine bay help to compensate for the absence of a permanent roof structure.

The XK8's top drops in less than 20 seconds, accessing open-air motoring at the mere touch of a console-mounted button.

Latching and unlatching are automatic and the fully lined and padded top with its heated glass rear window is capable of raising and closing with the vehicle traveling at up to 10 mph.

A soft tonneau cover is provided for a more finished look when the top is down.

The soft cover was chosen over a hard panel because of space considerations for the fuel tank and cargo area in the trunk.

The new 4.2-liter V-8 (AJ34) engine is an evolution of the AJ-V-8 4.0-liter, all-aluminum, dual-overhead camshaft, four-valve-per-cylinder engine.

In its normally aspirated form, the new engine generates 294 horsepower and 303 foot-pounds of torque (XKR models are powered by a supercharged version of the 4.2-liter V-8 that adds 96 horsepower and 96 foot-pounds of torque).

It is mated to an electronically controlled six-speed, J-gated automatic transmission with two driver-selectable shift modes Sport and Normal.

The auto shifter provides adaptive self-regulation, conforming to the specific driving characteristics of the vehicle's pilot.

Acceleration is controlled by electronic circuitry. Driving force reaches the rear wheels through a rear axle with a new fine-tuned differential maximizing power and torque characteristics of the new engine.

There are modest freshening details further enhancing the svelte convertible.

Settling in behind the polished wood-and-leather steering wheel of the XK8, and onto the luxurious Connolly leather seats, and gazing forward at the glistening burled walnut dash complete with recessed analog gauges and ergonomically friendly controls appropriately sets the mood for a journey into an elegant but exhilarating motoring experience top up or down.

Turn the key firing up the powerful V-8, move the gearshift into drive, vigorously prod the electronic throttle and notice instantly that this is no ordinary motorcar.

Select an isolated, challenging, curvy mountain road for experimentation with the J-gated shifter's manual gear-selection capability while tromping on the accelerator and reveling at the joys of spirited motoring. The experience is breathtaking.

Rated by the Environmental Protection Agency as a minicompact (probably due to the limited back-seat space), there is really nothing "mini" about the XK8 at all. It is big, bold and beautiful.

The Jaguar car may be compared to its living feline namesake able to slink along slowly and stealthily, but able to spring rapidly to top speed.

The XK8 continues to escalate the essence of Jaguar the perfect formula for elegant open-air motoring.

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