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Old 09-02-2005, 06:32   #1 (permalink)
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UK:New Jag revives spirit of E-Type

New Jag revives spirit of E-Type

Auto Express
By Dan Strong

The legendary E-Type lives - and Auto Express has the pictures to prove it! We were granted access to get these exclusive photos of the new XK, and even slid behind the wheel of the machine tipped to be the coolest Big Cat ever.

Inspired by the Sixties' classic, the 155mph coupé replaces the current nine-year-old model. Challenging the Porsche 911 and the V8 Vantage from sister firm Aston Martin, the car will be available from January with a sub-£60,000 price tag - that's £20,000 less than the Aston. Has Jaguar created a bargain, or is the new XK a class below its Ford family rival?

One thing's for sure, the classic styling and swooping bodywork will prove a big part of the Jag's appeal. An oval grille - a replica of the E-Type's - is a nod to the firm's heritage, while the snub nose and bulging bonnet hint at the power offered by the 300bhp 4.2-litre V8.

Settling into the supportive driver's seat and gripping the thick-rimmed wheel, your first impression is of a fantastic view through the windscreen. Unlike many of today's super-coupés, the long bonnet is clearly visible, arcing down to the corners of the car.

Based on the ALC concept, which debuted at the Detroit Motor Show in January, the production vehicle's lines are more rounded, and the rear end is fuller. With its flared wheelarches and massive 20-inch tyres, the newcomer has plenty of road presence.

Capable of sprinting from 0-60mph in 5.9 seconds, the model is nearly as fast as the current 400bhp XKR flagship - and to prove it, Auto Express was treated to an impressive demonstration drive. Under hard acceleration, the car sounds fantastic, and through corners it displays seemingly unflappable poise.

But the efforts of Jaguar's engineers didn't stop there. The firm also worked to reduce fuel consumption and improve emission levels. The engine meets strict Euro IV pollution regulations, and even though exact numbers have still to be confirmed, CO2 output is expected to drop by six per cent, while fuel economy improves by 2mpg over the current car.

These figures are helped by a new six-speed auto, which couples Jaguar's traditional 'J'-shaped gate with wheel-mounted paddles. The fully automatic Drive mode offers refinement, while the Sport setting sharpens the system's responses, holding gears for longer and blipping the throttle on downshifts.

It's immediately obvious that Jaguar has brought the cabin bang up to date as well. The prototype we tried offered keyless entry, a push-button starter and active lighting, which glows gently in the footwell to enhance the feeling of space. A minimalist instrument cluster houses two dials which are mounted either side of a tiny read-out that displays sat-nav instructions and gear selection.

A strict 2+2 layout includes bigger rear seats than those in the current XK, while the hatchback and huge glass area make the cockpit feel light and airy.

Given that it will be little more than a year from concept debut to production model in showrooms, what we've seen is very impressive. Crucially, the demonstration drive suggested the all-new XK promises to be every bit as good on the road as it is to look at.











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