2001 Jaguar Sovereign 3.2 V8 Saloon
The final update for Jaguar's venerable XJ40 platform was unveiled in September 1997 when the existing X300 range was replaced with a new model codenamed X308. Given how well received the X300's return to a more traditional curvaceous look had been received, both critically and by the public, the latest XJ looked very similar, with minor changes confined to details like the reshaped grille and oval turn signals. More important revisions lay under the skin, particularly a new generation of AJ-series V8 engines. Offered in both 3.2 and 4.0-litre versions (along with option of a supercharger), the new V8 simultaneously replaced both the long-serving 6-cylinder and V12 Jaguars and represented a major break with tradition. The AJ8 engine was only available with a sophisticated five-speed manual transmission made by ZF and in 3.2-litre guise developed 240 bhp. The XJ's cabin was also completely new, combining the usual British luxury touches of wood and leather with an oval-shaped dashboard and equipment levels across the range were improved. The Sovereign offered a more traditional appearance than the Sport, with additional use of exterior chrome and burl walnut inside. Thanks to the injection of Ford money, the XJ was finally built to a standard that was at last on par with that of Jaguar's German rivals and it proved a worthy competitor for BMW and Mercedes-Benz until the its successor, dubbed the X350, was launched in 2003. The X308 generation XJs have also proven a lot more reliable than their forebears, whilst retaining traditional strengths like beautiful styling and that beautifully appointed cabin. The XJ is now great value as well, having depreciated to a point where all this luxury is available at a fraction of the original list price of $126,500 at the time of its Australian release in October 1997.