Judged by a momentary glance, modifications to Jaguar's sports cars for 2005 might not have been too evident. Revamping the XK8 coupe and convertible and their high-performance XKR companions included tweaks to the front of the car. Standard XK8 models use a 294-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8 and a six-speed-automatic transmission.
An automatic speed limiter became standard in 2005 models. The driver can set a maximum, which is then maintained by throttle intervention.
A limited-edition XK Victory series that commemorates Jaguar's four wins in North American Trans-Am road racing goes on sale for 2006. Only 1,050 coupes and convertibles, in both XK8 and XKR forms, will come to the U.S. XKR models are listed separately in the cars.com Research section.
An XK replacement will appear in 2006. It will be an evolution of Jaguar's Advanced Lightweight Coupe concept that toured auto shows in 2005.
Ford Motor Co. has owned Jaguar since December 1989, but the vehicle bodies, platforms and engines are designed and manufactured by Jaguar in England.
Restyling for 2003 included fresh alloy wheels and new badging and headlights, but the XK8's dramatic, projectile-shaped appearance didn't change. Modifications for 2005 were modest and centered around the front end. A full-width grille splitter is evident. The side sills were revised, and the rear bumper grew deeper. Gloss black window finish surrounds are installed.
Riding on standard 18-inch alloy wheels, the XK8 gets a new chrome mesh grille similar to other Jaguar models for 2006. Upgraded 19-inch Atlas chrome-plated wheels are mounted on the Victory editions, which include xenon headlights with dynamic leveling.
Convertibles have a one-button, automatic-latching power soft-top with a glass rear window and defogger.
In theory, these Jaguars will hold four occupants; but in reality, they're 2+2 models that are suitable for just two passengers. Even the two front occupants must employ some dexterity when climbing into and out of the low-slung XK8, and space is snug. Passengers enjoy the lush leather and abundant wood trim that decorate the Jag's cockpit. The driver faces a wood- and leather-wrapped steering wheel that tilts and telescopes electrically.
The XK8 has rain-sensing wipers and a premium, 320-watt Alpine audio system. Jaguar's navigation system is optional.
This year's Victory edition substitutes elm wood veneer for the usual burl walnut.
Under the Hood
The XK8's 294-hp, 4.2-liter V-8 drives a six-speed ZF automatic transmission.
Jaguar's Adaptive Restraint Technology System includes side-impact airbags with head-protection extensions mounted in the front-seat backrest cushions. Traction control and all-disc antilock brakes are standard. All XK models have Dynamic Stability Control to prevent wheelspin and emergency brake assist to produce the shortest possible braking distance. Reverse Park Control warns of obstacles while backing up.
Heritage counts, especially when it comes to British-built motorcars. Even if its performance lags behind that of some competitors, driving a Jaguar ranks as a memorable experience.
Handling has always been a strong point for Jaguar, even if the XK is more of a boulevard cruiser than a racetrack-ready model. The ride can get a bit jittery on rough pavement, but the suspension nicely absorbs imperfections on most highway surfaces.