(Photo illustration (above) and spy photos by Brenda Priddy and Co.)
Mirror Image: Spied production Jaguar XK is a crisp reflection of Detroit show car
THE DISGUISE IS BLOWN for the next Jaguar XK8 sports coupe after a photo shoot in South Africa was infiltrated by an intrepid spy photographer.
The spy pictures reveal the styling, stance and details of the 2007 XK8, and how close the production car is to the concept Advanced Lightweight Coupe shown at the Detroit show early this year.
Only details differ: The concept’s wraparound headlights, sweeping roofline, taut stance and hatchback trunk are all production characteristics. The concept’s name tells how revolutionary this new XK8 is for the ultra-traditional British automaker. Out go XJS-derived underpinnings that trace lineage to the 1970s; they are replaced by a shortened version of Jag’s aerospace-inspired, riveted-aluminum XJ sedan chassis.
Jag has chopped some 11 inches out of the XJ’s 119-inch wheelbase, which leaves plenty of space between the wheels for a quality ride and spacious cabin. By keeping the front and rear overhangs tight, the new XK won’t cast a shadow much larger than that of today’s 188-inch-long coupe.
The Advanced Lightweight Coupe, above, made it from concept to reality with few changes to its appearance. Some of the obvious exterior changes: Side gills get body color on XK, chrome on XKR. Front fog lamps replace car's decorative scoops. At the rear, dual exhaust outlets moved form the center of the bumper.
Amazingly, the XK is chief designer Ian Callum’s first complete car for Jaguar since joining five years ago. His work blends old and new into a handsome, classic shape that is neither overly traditional nor trendy. An E-Type-inspired oval grille, hood ridge and flowing roofline could have been lifted off today’s XK, while the muscular rear haunches, wraparound headlights and decorative front fender gill are modern design cues.
Many observers say the XK’s look is too close to that of the Aston Martin DB7, DB9 and Vanquish, all of which owe their design language to Callum. But all these Brit cars clearly have their own character.
Badges on our spy-shot car suggest this is a naturally aspirated XK8 rather than a supercharged XKR, so the gill is body-colorªed. On the XKR it will be chromed, like the Jaguar badge that sits atop the gill.
A choice of two 4.2-liter V8s will be offered in the XK. The naturally aspirated engine will make close to 300 hp while the supercharged one will hit close to 400 hp.
Over time an entry-level 3.5-liter 260-hp V8 is a possibility, as is a high-output 450-hp-plus XKR-R to chase Mercedes’ AMG-tuned SL models. Europeans could even be offered a 200-hp diesel-powered XK6, a counter to Mercedes’ oil-burning SL model announced two months ago at the Geneva show. There is one transmission, a six-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts for manual control.
The show car's interior, unveiled at Detroit, will be close to the showroom car.
Both V8s should offer a slight performance boost thanks to a 200-pound weight savings over today’s model, the new alumiªnum XK8 weighing in at about 3500 pounds and the XKR at 3600 pounds.
Though we’ve yet to get a peek at the production interior, the ALC cockpit design, we’re told, will make it to showrooms with minimal changes. Just visible through the side in one of the spy shots are the new headrests, which forego the integral headrest look of today’s car.
One key battle Callum fought with Jag’s engineers is to get the wheels and tires filling the arches, a fight he apparently won judging by the 18-inch wheels and tires seen on the spied car. Interestingly, the XK uses conventional steel springs in the suspension rather than the XJ’s air suspension units.
One of the new XK8’s vital roles is to introduce Callum’s design language for future Jags, and the squared-off wheel housings are an important part of that future. Previous Callum concepts like the Concept R and R-D6 have shown this cue, instead of the flared, race car-style arches of the X-Type, S-Type and XJ, which are now considered old-fashioned Jag design elements.
Except for the lens colors, the XK’s wraparound headlights and taillights are the same as those on the ALC concept. Also, the production XK sports front fog lights in place of the decorative scoops found on the show car.
Every memorable designer has a style, and Ian Callum is no different. Note the common themes in the muscular appearance of the next XK and the last three Aston Martins, including the Callum-influenced DB9, above.
The nose of the new XK appears bluff and upright. That’s because new European pedestrian impact regulations, effective at the end of this year, are starting to influence European styling.
Jaguar will reveal the production coupe at September’s Frankfurt show and the converªtible at January’s Detroit show. Sales in the United States will start in spring 2006.