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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Quick Cats to be unleashed at Detroit Show- 510hp XFR, XJR

Jaguar will use the Detroit auto show in January 2009 to launch two high-performance flagships: the XFR and a revamped XKR. Both will come with a new 510-hp, 500-lb-ft, supercharged V-8. To get there, the engine has gained direct gasoline injection and a capacity hike to from 4.2L to 5.0L.

The new engine is a substantial performance gain over Jaguar's current 420-hp unit, surpassing present Mercedes sedans and SLs with the (less powerful) 63 AMG engine mainly because they weigh considerably less. Expect 0-62-mph times for the R-massaged Jags down in the mid-four-second range. Both cars are set go on sale in March 2009.

In design terms, the XFR will have the more noticeable changes. For both cars, the principal sheetmetal change is a set of large vents in the hoods to keep engine and intercooler temperatures down. But front and rear facias change considerably on the XK and XF and further aid in cooling. There will also be bigger tailpipes. Wheels, brakes and chassis settings will be amended to suit, but the overall tread is unchanged.

In Europe, Jaguar has already released a lower, stiffer version of the XKR called the XKR-S, which has surprising extra ability through curves and feels much more securely bolted to the road than the standard U.S. XKR, itself no boat.

Further down the line, work continues on a thorough rework of the XJ sedan for 2011, codenamed X351. The advanced aluminum understructure of the current XJ is retained, but on top the look is all-new. The new XJ is said to be a radical iteration of the forms seen in the XF, but lower, wider, and sleeker, with richer jewelry and lighting.

It also reportedly gets the new direct-injection drivetrain and may also get a diesel version for the U.S. market. Jaguar has a capable twin-turbo 2.7L V-6 diesel that will shortly be upgraded to 3.0L and which should push numbers in neighborhood of 250 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque.

The X351 was already designed when new owner Tata came to Jaguar, but insiders say they liked what they saw so it was pushed ahead.

In the longer run, Jaguar management says it wants to grow overall numbers gradually, and to do so means remaining a company with "more than three models." So the X-Type, no longer on sale in the U.S. but still offered in Europe, will likely be replaced.

And while Jaguar has no intention of going into the SUV or crossover realm, the existence of the Land Rover LRX crossover means the two brands can share a small, carlike platform. There is still strong impetus within Jaguar to do a small front-engine roadster. The commonality of BMW's X3 and Z4 is not lost on them, and if Land Rover is building the crossover (all indications are it will), then Jaguar can build the roadster, they say. But we're talking 2012 at the earliest.