XK8: Jaguar’s XK is the luxury grand tourer line, which comes in a coupe or a convertible. The current line of XK cars were first introduced in 1996 with the XK8, which represented the beginning of a new generation for the line. The XK Jaguars originated with the XKE or E-type cars that first came out in 1961. The E-types, loved by many car enthusiasts, only lasted for about a decade and a half. When the XK models came back in 1996, these same Jaguar lovers were thrilled and the XK8 did not disappoint.
When it arrived on the scene, the XK8 replaced the XJS, a vehicle that many ridiculed for being light on sports car features and for its coupe styling. In spite of the complaints of mediocrity, Jaguar produced the XJS with decent sales for 22 years. And, although the XK8 brought back a beloved line of Jaguar vehicles, it took more cues from the XJS than its historic predecessor.
The XK8 came on the heels of Ford’s purchase of the Jaguar brand. To replace the XJS, Ford decided to make a splash by putting a brand new, 4.0-liter, V8 engine, called the AJ-V8, in the new, small car. With a 290-horsepower rating, it was fast, capable, and competitive with any other luxury car in a similar price range. Compared to the XJS, the XK8 was more agile and while too luxurious to be a sports car, still a much better drive.
Another aspect of the XK8 that made it more appealing than the vehicle it replaced was its styling. The interior included the classic Jaguar look with plenty of walnut trim and leather upholstery. The overall appearance of the car had a retro effect, which was very popular in the late 1990s. Two years after its launch, Ford brought out the XKR with a turbocharged, 370-horsepower V8 engine for performance-minded consumers.