1998 Jaguar XJ8 4.0 Saloon
|Engine||V8, 4.0 litre|
Jaguar released its final update of the venerable XJ40 platform in September 1997, replacing the existing X300 range with a new model codenamed the X308. Given the X300’s return to a more traditional shape had been positively received both by the critics and public alike, the latest XJ looked very similar, with changes confined to details like the reshaped grille and oval turn signals. More important revisions lay under the skin, in particular the new generation of AJ-series V8 engines designed to take Jaguar into the 21st Century. Offered in both 3.2 and 4.0-litre versions (with option of a supercharger on the latter), the new V8 simultaneously replaced the long serving 6-cylinder and V12 Jaguar engines, representing a major break with the past. The AJ8 engine was only available with a sophisticated ZF five-speed manual transmission and developed 290 bhp in 4-litre guise. The XJ’s cabin was also completely new, combining traditional British wood and leather finishes with an oval-shaped dashboard and improved equipment levels across the range. Of the two models sold, the Sovereign offered a more traditional approach than the Sport, thanks to the use of additional exterior chrome and burl walnut inside the cabin. Thanks to the injection of Ford money, the XJ was built to a standard equal to Jaguar’s German rivals and proved a worthy competitor for BMW and Mercedes-Benz until the its successor, dubbed the X350, was launched in 2003. The 1997-2003 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.