After the extensive debate over the ill fated “F Type” project which was to replace the ageing XJS, Ford cancelled the extraordinary four wheel drive, twin turbo machine and decided to start from scratch on an all new coupe. The car had to be successful in the all important US market. It was in many ways a make or break point for the whole of the marque. The result was the XK8, launched in October 1996. it was everything a Jaguar coupe should be: lithe, elegant, mechanically slick and super quick. A few, however, thought the XK8 was perhaps everything a US bound Jaguar should be the XK8 had more than a little Stateside influence about it. The overlong rear overhang was said to have resulted from the need to accommodate two golf bags in the boot, a pre requisite consideration in the American market for its class. Even, so Ford helped Jaguar to do a fine job. The XK8 felt like a real Jaguar, benefiting enormously from the superb V8 and the astonishing seamlessly shifting five speed box. The chassis was so able that the XJ8 felt as it could handle considerably more power which is what it got in the spring of 1998.
Jaguar engineers took the familiar supercharging route and boosted power from 290 bhp to 360 bhp and the torque to a massive 387 lb/ft, a move that necessitated installing a Mercedes automatic gearbox to take the strain. The result was the XKR, which contemporary road testers decided was a good as, or even better than, the new Porsche 911.