quintessential British motor car. Long and low slung, the shape is unmistakable. Inside, there is authentic wood, plush leather and rich chrome that seems barely changed since the 1930s. The style and demeanor bespeaks elegance with a bit of lavishness. Yet despite the Old World charm, the XJ8 also manages to keep up with modern themes. The 4.0-liter V-8 sends 290 horsepower to the rear wheels via a five-speed automatic transmission, enough to propel the XJ8 along with the most hasty of luxury sedans. And there’s more: the XJR gains another 80 horsepower via supercharging.
The XJ series is comprised of four models. Heading up the line is the XJ8 at just over $55,000, and its stretched counterpart, the XJ8L. The more lavish Vanden Plas name adds more luxury while the high performance model, the XJR, tops the line at around $68,000.
Although the XJ8 may lack the ultimate build quality of a Lexus LS400 or the solidity of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the Jaguar retains its unique charisma that is all too often lacking in modern automobiles.
Cadillac’s most popular car maintains the corporate image as a large, comfortable way to retire. For 1999, the update is a new seat option that has a massage feature. It may feel to some like an unruly youngster kicking you from behind, but others may find it a simpler way to remain awake and alert on longer journeys.
Meanwhile, the rest of the car remains the same. You have a choice of the standard model with 275 horsepower or the sportier Concourse with another 25 horsepower, although some low-rpm torque is sacrificed in the process. All this power sent through the front wheels means torque steer is ever present. Unfortunately, a heavy throttle will cause the steering wheel to be pulled strongly to one side. Traction control tames things a bit, but V-8-powered Cadillacs can be somewhat disconcerting to drive. (This is one reason why all V-8-powered imports remain rear-wheel drive.)
Inside, the Deville is the most roomy of Cadillacs with ample space for people and cargo. This $38,000 to $45,000 sedan can be equipped to the hilt with luxury features. Its size prevents nimbleness, but this retro-styled box of a car is the epitome of grand old style.
Get perks with your rental
Rental car companies are competing for your dollars with bonuses for your business Here’s what a few of them are offering:
Hertz (800-654-3131; www.hertz.com) customers who book online get 10% off standard and leisure, weekly and weekend rates through December 15. Florida customers get upgrades on leisure rates until December 15. Thrifty Car Rental (800-FORCARS; www.thrifty.com) will award double miles to customers paying with American Express until October 31. Partner airlines include American Airlines, Continental and TWA. Until December 15, request a Blockbuster Value Card good for one free movie rental.
National Car Rental (800-6421617; www.nationalcar.com) customers can get low deals on airfares and car rentals by using Continental On Line (CO.O.L). Mention discount ID #5037126.
Avis (888-897-8448; www.avis.com) is offering a “Have It All This Fall”