2000 Jaguar XK8 4.0 Coupe X100 vs. 2003 Audi TT 8N

2000 Jaguar XK8 4.0 Coupe X100 vs. 2003 Audi TT 8N

Commissioned to photograph an Audi TT for another magazine, Paul compares the four-seat coupe with his own

Similar to how Liverpool Football Club and my son’s under 16 team do roughly the same thing while also being totally different, the same could be said of the Jaguar XK8 and first generation of Audi TT. Although both are four-seat coupes, one is a big, purposeful and V8-engined GT and the other smaller with much of its DNA sourced from elsewhere.

2000 Jaguar XK8 4.0 Coupe X100 vs. 2003 Audi TT 8N

Yet they still have enough in common that when I was asked by JW’s sister title, Bargain Cars, to photograph a 1.8-litre example of the German car, I took my 4.0 coupe along to compare the two side-by-side.

As well as both cars arriving in the late Nineties with production lasting until half way through the following decade, their current values are also similar. Although the Jaguar was more expensive by quite some margin when new, both can be bought today for £5k or less.

Yet looking at my 2000 XK8 and this TT from 2003, I can’t understand how. At 4760mm, the Jaguar is over 700mm longer than the Audi giving it, in my eyes, a much bigger presence.

2003 Audi TT 8N

The Audi still has handsome yet chunky lines that were clearly influenced by a futuristic concept car from 1995, making it appear much more modern than the more traditional-looking XK8. Two decades later, though, I reckon the Audi hasn’t aged as well as the Jaguar. While the British car with its soft, E-type-like curves has a timeless quality, the German is very much a result of the era in which it was designed.

Although the wood and leather of my car’s interior makes it comfortable, it’s also less contemporary than Blenheim Palace. By comparison, the black plastic used throughout the TT’s is more modern but is also austere, offering little of the Jaguar’s sense of occasion. It’s been a long time since I’ve driven a first generation of Audi TT so I was looking forward to reacquainting myself with the breed and was immediately impressed.

Lighter, nimbler and with less body roll, the TT is clearly more of a sports car than the heavyweight Jaguar. With 220bhp, the 1.8 turbocharged four-cylinder engine might have 50bhp less than the XK8’s V8 which is why its 0-60mph time of 6.4 is a second slower but its chunky, more responsive nature makes the Audi feel quicker off the mark.

2000 Jaguar XK8 4.0 Coupe X100

Yet – and I need to be careful here since the example shown belongs to Kelsey Publishing’s manager director and former JW editor, Phil Weeden – it’s not as memorable to drive. By being VW Golf-based, the TT’s hatchback origins are never far from the surface and it lacks the Jaguar’s feeling of grandeur.

From the sound of the V8 to its commanding presence on the road, the XK8 is more of an autocratic car than the diminutive German and its hand-me-down chassis. Although not as fast through bends and arguably not as well-built, driving the Jaguar is still more memorable.

As I said at the start, these coupes aren’t really rivals since the Jaguar was clearly the bigger, more costly and more powerful car. But like a match between Liverpool’s finest and a bunch of teens would be, it’s still been an interesting, if one-sided, experience to compare two very different interpretations of the same style of car.

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