Daimler Super Eight
By Dirk Branke
In a world of hybrid and fuel-cell cars, plasma TV screens and wi-fi broadband, Daimlers are hardly seen as futuristic - and that's just the way customers like it. For more than 100 years, the firm has offered luxurious transport for a very traditional group of buyers - the kind of people who still call a radio a "wireless".
Since being bought out in the Sixties, Daimler has made several high-spec models based on owner Jaguar's flagship cars. Available in small numbers, they've continued to offer the exclusivity fans of the brand crave.
However, production has been intermittent - although now, after a seven-year gap, the latest Daimler has arrived: the Super Eight. Based on the long-wheelbase XJ Super V8, it offers more luxurious fittings, some styling tweaks and, of course, the Daimler badge.
But it costs nearly £80,000 - that's £5,000 more than the Jag. So does the car feel special enough to warrant the price? Auto Express tried it to find out.
At first glance, you'd be forgiven for thinking the Super Eight was a regular XJ. But look closer, and there are some subtle changes. At the front, the chrome radiator grille gets extravagant 'fluting', mirrored by the boot release at the rear, while there's more brightwork on the wing mirrors and tail-light surrounds. Complex 18-inch multi-spoke alloys and two new body colours - Garnet Red and Westminster Blue - complete the look.
Inside, the swirling D of the Daimler badge adorns the seat headrests, there's lots of luxurious Burr Walnut wood veneer trim on the dash, while soft leather and thick lamb's wool carpets really give a bespoke feel.
With ample legroom thanks to the long wheelbase, plus electric rear seats and four-zone climate control, not to mention TV screens in the headrests, it feels every inch the high-ranking limo.
But then so does the XJ Super LWB. And it's a similar story on the move. With an identical 400bhp from the XJ's supercharged 4.2-litre V8, this is a very fast machine, hitting 60mph from rest in a supercar-rivalling five seconds.
Response is effortless, with the six-speed auto gearbox providing seamless changes, while refinement is first-class. Noise-reducing laminated side glass has been added, but in truth, the Super Eight is no more silent at speed than the XJ.
Sharing the Jaguar's aluminium body and suspension layout, the Daimler combines smooth progress with agile corner-ing. There's also a real sense of occasion at the wheel - something German rivals struggle to match. But apart from cosmetic detailing, the Super Eight offers nothing extra over the XJ. And it's very expensive - although traditionalists will no doubt take a different view.
The new Super Eight is a classy, well built limo that uses the best wood and leather materials to create a truly special feel. For a car aimed at traditional buyers, there is nothing old-school about its aluminium construction or its 400bhp V8. But unless you simply must buy a Daimler, Jaguar's XJ offers as much appeal at a far lower price.
At a Glance
* Offering first-class refinement and a strong turn of pace, the Super Eight is sure to appeal to the well heeled, chauffeur-driven customers Daimler is aiming at - whether theyare in the UK, or growing markets such as Japan and Malaysia.
* Engine: 4.2 V8, 400bhp
* 0-60/top spd: 5.0secs/155mph
* Price: £79,995