You are here: Home / Car Reviews / Jaguar / XK / 2003 Jaguar XKR and XK8 Mid-Size Luxury Coupes and Convertibles

2003 Jaguar XKR and XK8 Mid-Size Luxury Coupes and Convertibles

MSRP Range: $69,000 to $86,500

Invoice Range: $62,500 to $78,000
Price Quote

MSRP As Tested: unknown

Versions: XK8 Coupe, XKR Coupe, XK8 Convertible, XKR Convertible

Vehicle Category: Mid-Size Luxury Coupes and Convertibles

Engine Location: Front Engine

Drive Wheels: Rear-Wheel Drive Rear-Wheel Drive

Engine As Tested: XK8 -4.2-liter, Dual Overhead Cam, V-8 cylinder, 294-horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 303 lb-ft torque at 4,100 rpm. XKR - 4.2-liter, Dual Overhead Cam, Supercharged and ">Inter-cooled, V8, 390-horsepower at 6,100 rpm, 399 lb.-ft. torque at 3,500 rpm.

Transmission As Tested: 6-Speed Automatic with manual shift option.

Fuel Economy (city/hwy): XK8 - 18/26. XKR - 16/23 .

Standard Safety Features: Driver and front passenger, front and side airbags, 4-wheel disc brakes, "> Antilock Braking System, Antiskid System, Electronic Brake Distribution, Dynamic Stability Controller, Adaptive Restraint Technology System, In-Trunk Emergency Trunk Release, Daytime Running Lights. XKR: Brembo discs and calipers.

Competition: Audi A6, Acura RL, BMW M3, BMW 5-Series, Cadillac DeVille, Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper, Lexus SC 430, Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, Porsche 911

TAJUNGA, California -- Twisting around so many bends in the Big Tajunga Canyon, which cuts into the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles, a sensuous new coupe from Britain's Jaguar slices the apexes at a swift clip without a whimper of protest from four huge tires.

The XKR -- rolling on optional 20-inch BBS alloy wheel with ultra low-profile Pirelli PZero performance tires linked to giant Brembo brakes -- packs a supercharged version of Jaguar's new V8 engine tied to an automatic transmission with six forward gears.

It romps across the mountains as a driver reins all those horses hitched beneath that exaggerated front hood.

Not only is this XKR coupe incredibly powerful and fitted with the hardware of a serious performance car, but it's also absolutely gorgeous -- surely, the most dazzling model in a line of beautiful cars, except perhaps for its drop-top twin, the curvaceous XKR convertible.

Both XKR coupe and convertible amount to supercharged performance versions of Jaguar's mid-size two-door personal luxury cars, the XK8 coupe and convertible.

Only difference between the coupe and convertible occurs with the latter's retractable lid, which is fully lined and contains a rear window of clear glass.

Styling for XK cars resurrects visual cues from Jaguar's 1960s two-seat icon, XK-E, due to the long front hood and curvy prow working with the curt tail.

Hoods vary between XK8 and XKR because the performance model wears functional louver panels set midway back between the front grille and windshield. This location happens to be the point where a low-pressure zone develops due to aerodynamic factors evident when the car rushes forward.

Air, drawn through the front radiator and out through the louvers, flows at a quicker clip thanks to the low pressure, resulting in improved engine cooling as well as a decrease in aerodynamic lift in front at high speeds.

Counterbalancing this aerodynamic action up front, the spoiler at the trailing edge of the trunk exerts a downward thrust of air current on the tail to keep the rear tires pinned to the pavement when running fast.

Additional exterior elements mark the XKR -- a wire-mesh grille in the prow and xenon high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps.

Although all four XK versions for 2003 may appear similar to previous editions, significant changes occur in the series because of the creation of a new engine for XK8 and the supercharged variation for XKR.

Jaguar's big V8 -- displacing 4.2-liters out of an aluminum block with four-cam configuration and four valves per cylinder -- for XK8 generates 300-hp at 6,000 rpm and 310 lb-ft of torque at 4,100 rpm.

Then add an Eaton blower as well as dual air-to-water inter-coolers to forge the supercharged XKR. This extra equipment, which forces more cool air into each cylinder to enrich the mix of fuel and oxygen needed for combustion, makes more power with each cycle of ignition.

As a result, the supercharged engine rips to 400-hp at 6,100 rpm and sends the torque soaring to 408 lb-ft at only 3,500 rpm.

All torque translates through the sophisticated six-speed electronic automatic transmission.

A shift lever with Jaguar's J-pattern gate for automatic or manual mode isolates various gear positions so you can shift it yourself without clutching, if desired.

Rack the lever back through Reverse to Drive mode for automatic control of all forward gears, but hook a lateral left shift at the bottom of the gate for an up-shift to fourth gear.

From this position at the bottom of the J-shaped pattern, the lever will move forward manually to drop down one gear at a time to second gear, with the first gear reached automatically as needed.

Styling for XK8 and XKR cars originated at Jaguar's headquarters in Coventry, England, where production occurs.

Despite the assembly line in Britain, XK cars carry components from a multi-national coterie of suppliers.

Engines come from the Bridgend Engine Plant in Wales owned by Ford Motor Company, which acquired Jaguar in 1989.

From Germany the ZF transmission is built by BMW, while the convertible's forged aluminum frame is crafted at Karmann Coachworks.

From the United States, ITT Automotive makes the anti-lock brake system, while a lighting system stems from France, the air conditioner comes from Japan and Italy's Pirelli molds the optional PZero performance tires.

XK cars have a four-wheel independent wishbone suspension in aluminum, with subframes front and rear plus coil springs with telescopic dampers.

Jaguar's Computer Active Technology Suspension -- the anagram spells CATS -- delivers automatic two-stage shock damping with calibrations to maximize handling and control.

Speed-sensitive variable-assist power rack and pinion steering and four-wheel disc brakes with computerized anti-lock brake system (ABS) controls plus electronic brake distribution (EBD) improve motion maneuvers for all XKs.

Further, a dynamic stability controller (DSC) is aboard. It applies brake and throttle automatically to correct potentially dangerous yaw behavior.

Jaguar also applies its new Adaptive Restraint Technology System (ARTS), which uses ultrasonic sensors to figure out who's sitting where, then switch off air bags and seatbelt pretensioners for an unoccupied front seat.

The cockpit for all XK models shows seats for four. Legroom is sparse in the rear but up front the buckets are clad in rich Connolly leather and adjust with power controls featuring memory settings.

Slabs of hand-finished hardwood veneers -- either burr walnut or birds-eye maple -- trim dash and console, while classic analog gauges mark the instrument panel.

Equipment exclusive to XKR includes the xenon HID headlamps, a DVD-based navigation system and seats in perforated leather, along with Brembo brakes and aluminum four-piston calipers tinted to silver and revealing the R Performance marque.

New options for XKR range from Recaro sport seats and aluminum trim in the cabin to a handling package that tunes suspension and steering tightly for high performance.

XK price points begin at $69,330 for the XK8 coupe and $74,330 for the convertible. The XKR coupe lists for $81,330 and the XKR convertible comes to $86,330.


Where Built: Coventry, England

Seating: 4

Number of Rows: 2

Crash Test Ratings:

  • NHTSA Frontal Impact/Driver Crash Test Rating: Not Yet Tested
  • NHTSA Frontal Impact/Passenger Crash Test Rating: Not Yet Tested
  • NHTSA Side Impact/Front Seat Crash Test Rating: Not Yet Tested
  • NHTSA Side Impact/Rear Seat Crash Test Rating: Not Yet Tested
  • NHTSA Rollover Resistance Rating: Not Yet Tested
  • IIHS Frontal Offset Crash Test: Not Yet Tested

Length in Inches: 187.4

Warranties: 4 years/50,000 miles bumper-to-bumper, 6 years/unlimited miles corrosion, 4 years/50,00 miles free Roadside Assistance, 4 years/50,00 miles free scheduled maintenance.

Weight in Pounds: Coupe - 3,759. Convertible - 3,990.

Towing Capacity in Pounds: Not Applicable

Gas Tank Capacity in Gallons: 19.9

Destination Charge: $645