So we bought a Jaguar XK
We wanted to fill our personal fleet up with cool cars. That means our trusty Renault Safrane will eventually move on to a good home by the end of the summer. The replacement had to cleanly fall between our Honda S2000 and our Range Rover in terms of size, drive and cargo-carrying practicality. We thought of all sorts of cars, including Minis, Chargers, Alfas, Evoques, 3-Series, GTIs and what not. Then I woke up last week and had a sudden urge to buy a Jaguar XK. So I did.
Mind you, I’ve never taken the Jaguar XK seriously. All three versions I drove several years ago were of the supercharged XKR variety, and they were underwhelming as sports cars. I haven’t driven the latest facelifted ones, for obvious reasons, but these cars will get their collective behinds handed to them by Porsche 911s and Nissan GT-Rs. However, I looked at it from a different angle. One of my favourite cars is the Bentley Continental GT, a leather-lined cruiser that never pretended to be a sports car, but it still handles well enough, and so you enjoy it for what it is. The Jaguar XK range is cut from the same cloth. We wanted a Grand Tourer, and the naturally-aspirated Jaguar XK8 fit the bill perfectly, especially since we were getting comfortable with the costs of running our Range Rover.
Given our aversion to bank loans and overspending, we chose to look at used ones and pay full cash, as usual. The pickings were slim this summer, so we bought the third car we saw — a 2008 Jaguar XK8, silver on black, 99,000 km, with all possible options, all of which surprisingly still works! A couple of panels as well as the front bumper were seemingly repainted as far as we could tell, but all was in order and the paint quality was great, even if it had a bunch of easily-fixable scratches and dings all over. No mechanical or electrical issues were obvious. At the end of the day, buying a used near-exotic car is a minefield and you have to go by instincts as well as a healthy knowledge of potential issues, as gleaned from owner complaints on the internet. You need to make peace with your wallet and take the plunge, or head to the nearest Toyota dealership, who will gladly sell you a new mid-spec Toyota 86 for the same price.
Of the three cars we saw, there were several things in common. Firstly, they were all owned by well-to-do Brits (at least passport-wise). Secondly, they were all second owners. And thirdly, none of them knew much about its history before they got the car. Thankfully, all of them had full dealer-service histories, for the most part at least. Our car had the last major service done elsewhere. For an idea of regular dealer-service costs, it could be anywhere from Dhs 1700 to Dhs 2300 every 10,000 km for an out-of-warranty car, not including any component failures.
As luck would have it, our newly-purchased Jagular crapped out as soon as we bought it, right in the parking lot of the RTA testing centre that passed the car half-an-hour earlier. An “engine overheating” warning message popped up, and we parked the car again. We called in a nearby street-mechanic and he could find no evidence of overheating. Restarting the car didn’t change matters, so it wasn’t a simple computer error. We called a free insurance-supplied tow-truck and headed straight to the dealer.
As our car sat at the dealer over the weekend, we hit the net and found out it’s sort of common for the thermostat housing to break off with age and end up blocking the water pump. Turns out that’s exactly what happened, and we’re glad the car is smart enough to recognise a potential issue before the engine really overheated. The dealer installed a new thermostat and some water-pump gasket (Dhs 2620), as well as changed the battery in the smart-key (Dhs 50) which got rid of the “low smart key battery” error message. There was a Dhs 30 charge for petrol since our tank was almost empty previously.
After the briefest of negotiations, the total cost was brought down to Dhs 2397. It probably helped that we knew the service manager since the time we took our Range Rover there. The cost is still high for just a thermostat, but we were prepared for a much bigger bill, so this was actually a relief.
The Jaguar XK8 has a very short list of known common problems, and thankfully several of them were taken care of under warranty by the previous owner. Based on owner stories online, they seem to be generally solid mechanically, while even computer issues seem limited to small glitches, rather than the full-car-shutdown that happens in some Mercs and BMWs. Has Jaguar really made a turnaround in terms of reliability? That’s what we’re here to find out, although we’re still wondering why we’re (foolishly?) championing British cars at our own expense.
We’ve found a British-run “smart repair” place to take care of the numerous scratches on the aluminium body, where they’ll use techniques to patch up the deep dings without repainting entire panels. It’s a bit pricey at an average of Dhs 500 per panel, but the car should look fresh after that. And just now, we noticed that the car makes a mild whining noise randomly at low speeds, while an unrelated “check pedestrian system” error keeps popping up since today. None of it affects driveability though, but we’re contemplating whether to take it to the dealer again or go to an independent garage.
Original Mileage When Bought: 99,150 km
Latest Mileage To Date: 99,250 km
Latest Average Fuel Economy: 13.8 litres/100 km
Cost of Latest Problems: Dhs 2397
Cost of Latest Maintenance: Dhs 0
Total Non-Fuel Running Cost Since Bought: Dhs 2397