Cars like the Jaguar XK8 are all about charisma and style; practicality and cost issues are clearly distant considerations. What counts is whether other people eye you with envy; whether the car gets respect from the valet at snooty restaurants. Will it get parked out in front? Or does it go around back with all the others? And is my hair on straight?
Using these criteria, the 2001 XK8 (in either coupe or convertible form) passes the test. And it's a good thing, too — because if considered solely on its objective merits, the Jaguar would have some explaining to do. It is cramped inside and not especially comfortable. Leg room is fine, but shoulder and head room are tight if you are over six feet tall. The steering wheel obscures the instruments, but they're easier to read than the miniaturized screen for the now-standard GPS navigation system. As for trunk/interior storage capacity, the Jag has about the same room for stuff as a moped with saddlebags. And the thing is massively expensive: $69,155 for the base coupe and $74,155 for the convertible.
But it has style. And that, friends, has been the Jaguar ace in the hole for years.
Even during the awful days before Ford Motor Co. bought the company and injected some much-needed quality control, cars like the XJ6 sedan and XJS coupe (the XK8's predecessor) sold decently and were admired, even if they were being admired with their emergency flashers on while waiting for a tow truck by the side of the road. That's a powerful testimony to the allure of these still-exotic British machines.
Just saying "Jag-you-are" (that's how the Brits say it) conveys a sense of what we're dealing with here. Even the tubular key is different, oddly stylish. The door-knocker Jag-head on the key fob and "leaper" emblem complete the ensemble.