XJ8 combines technology with tradition
The XJ8 has been around in various incarnations for a number of years, but in 2002 Jaguar launched what was arguably the most significant development of its flagship model: an aluminium body.
The powerful yet restrained design of the Jaguar saloon marks it as an elegant, luxurious car in the tradition of previous XJ models. But alongside this were the technology and advanced technical design that made the body construction possible. The XJ body was manufactured almost entirely from aluminium, a material that has a strong place in Jaguar's history. Using the same lightweight but ultra-strong techniques that feature in aircraft, the body was an advance on all fronts.
The body shell was some 40 per cent lighter than that of an equivalent steel body. Equally important, the aluminium body was 60 per cent stiffer than its predecessor.
Jaguar's design director is Ian Callum, the man previously responsible for the best-selling Aston Martin DB7 and the Vanquish. 'The XJ had to be competitive, but it still had to be a Jaguar,' he said at its launch.
His predecessor, the late Geoff Lawson, began the preliminary design study shortly before his sudden death, but it was left to Callum to execute the final lines of the new car.
The aluminium space frame construction brought about its own problems, he claimed. 'Aluminium brings certain constraints, particularly in respect to radiuses and rolled edges. The Vanquish was easy by comparison because it uses superform, a simple but limited form of production. This was a much bigger challenge - a learning curve, if you like. Some things we wanted to produce could not be done. We had to reach a compromise.'
Jaguar is distributed in Hong Kong by Inchcape Motors. Sales manager Danny Mak was enthusiastic about the XJ8. 'It would definitely be a good buy; it combines ultra-modern technologies with the elegant, traditional values of a Jaguar,' he said.
'Corrosion is not a problem with the aluminium body. The XJ's entire structure was made of aluminium - everything from door skins to the roof section and the boot and bonnet. It created an extremely light body structure that can accelerate faster, handle with more agility, stop more effectively, use less fuel and produce fewer emissions; it's also exceptionally strong.'
Mak says that customers should take a look at the instrument panel, as most parts of the vehicle subject to failure will be indicated by a warning light. In addition, he suggests purchasing a vehicle with a full service record or one that is a factory-approved, pre-owned vehicle with a guarantee.
Prices vary, he says. 'As the XJ8 is a popular and reliable luxury sedan, it has a good resale value. For example, we have an approved pre-owned 2007 XJ8 that is selling at HK$648,000 [originally HK$958,000]. However, for a 2005 XJ8 in a good condition, the price range will be HK$500,000 to HK$450,000.'
Inchcape offers an inspection service of pre-owned Jaguars. 'Of course, we can do that, but a customer can also join our privilege service package. After that, the workmanship and parts would have a guarantee period of 12 months or 16,000 kilometres, whichever comes first,' said Mak. 'The XJ is the flagship for the Jaguar brand. Since its launch in 1968, the XJ has been the most popular Jaguar of all time. It has been Jaguar's best selling car for the past three decades.'