Jaguar introduced the XK model, a car that offers a sporty drive, but without compromising the luxury while its incredible performance and handling will allow it to be bought by customers who previously would only have considered outright cars which compromised luxury and space in favor of more aggressive handling characteristics. On the inside, the model features contemporary luxury materials, like fine leather and metallic finish. The new XK is available in both two-door Coupe and Convertible forms like the model it replaces. It is also able to accelerate faster, using less fuel and producing low emissions, but in the same time offering high levels of safety and improving handling. Safety is something the carmaker offered a lot of attention. It used a lot of aluminum, which absorbs significantly more energy/kg of material weight than steel when it is deformed. This also means lower-speed accident repairs costs are kept to a minimum.
The XK competes in what the motor industry categorizes as the 'Large Premium Sports Car' sector. This market is growing in importance and competitiveness - between 1996-2004, the total segment worldwide has more than doubled, from 48,000 to 99,000 units. Additionally, the number of key competitors increased over that period from four to seven. Forecasts predict that the sector size will remain constant over the next five years, with at least eight key competitors expected in the market by 2007.
Conventionally, the Large Premium Sports Car sector consists of two key product groups:
- Grand tourers, which maintain a high degree of luxury and refined comfort
- Overtly sporty cars, where high performance and handling are the main attributes.
Clearly, a product like the new XK that delivers well on both attributes will have immense appeal. The new XK offers the customer a sporty drive without compromising on luxury while its superb performance and handling will allow it to be bought by customers who previously would only have considered outright sports cars which compromised luxury and space in favour of more aggressive handling characteristics.
The new XK will appeal to a select group of affluent potential purchasers, who have an affinity with luxury products. They are looking for a grand tourer as well as a car with pure sporting credentials, one that provides exhilaration and escapism combined with status and exclusivity - 'luxury in a sports skin'.
Consequently, the new XK's beautiful exterior styling - which echoes Jaguar's lineage and signals performance - meets exactly those requirements. Similarly, customers will be delighted with an interior that engages and excites all the senses. It promotes driver focus, uses quality materials, colors and details, and has technology features that assist driver convenience and enhance performance.
Advanced technology that adds to the driving experience will attract these 'savvy' consumers looking for features such as Adaptive Cruise Control and a touch-screen information and control center. In short, the all-new XK offers customers the best of both worlds - sport and luxury, versatility and capability.
Beautiful, modern exterior indicates future of Jaguar design
Classic Jaguar oval air intake and power bulge on hood
Convertible side profile sleek and elegant with roof stowed
The all-new XK is visibly more assertive and sportier than the model it replaces, but in true Jaguar tradition it is also elegant, understated and mature. In hard-top guise it has classic, ground-hugging Coupe proportions, with long hood, steeply raked windshield and rear window, arch-filling wheels, and minimal overhangs. The front-wing power vents are a new Jaguar styling signature recently seen on the special edition XJ Super V8 Portfolio; the distinctive oval grille opening, prominent hood power-bulge and practicality-enhancing rear Liftback all echo the classic E-type, while details like the sweeping front and rear light shapes and powerful stance catapult Jaguar sports car design firmly into the 21 st century.
Inside the new XK, traditional craftsmanship and contemporary luxury materials, like finely stitched leather, contrast with a choice of more high-tech trim surfaces including metallic finishes. The layout is driver-focused and sporty, with excellent ergonomics and body-hugging seats, set low against the high waistline to give a strong 'cockpit' feel. With the new XK's longer wheelbase, wider tracks and taller roofline, the 2+2 layout has significantly more interior space for front seat occupants than the XK that it replaces.
Also like the XK it replaces, the all-new XK will be available in both two-door Coupe and Convertible forms, each model in its own right developed in parallel under one umbrella program. The decision to give the Convertible version a classic soft-top rather than a folding hard-top means the open option offers exactly the same 2+2 seating layout, without compromising the elegant lines of the rear body, the strong, rising waistline or the light weight of the car.
The fully-lined triple-layer roof has exceptional wind and road noise isolation. It opens and closes at the touch of a button in less than 18 seconds, and when dropped it stows neatly below a rigid aluminum tonneau cover without unacceptable intrusion into the large luggage space. Furthermore, the loadspace can be increased by approximately 3 cu. ft. (83 liters) by stowing the retractable loadspace separator when the Convertible roof is up. The use of a soft-top has also allowed the exterior body to be designed with much cleaner lines and a relatively low deck, meaning the door waist line can be carried right through the vehicle from the front of the car to the tail.
The roof is constructed from three layers, which also insulate against wind and road noise. The outer layer is a completely waterproof cloth/rubber/cloth laminate, and the inner layer is a luxurious cloth lining which is taut and smooth when the roof is closed. The 'sandwich filling' is an insulation layer, using 3M Thinsulate TM material. This gives significantly better insulation for less than half the thickness of the previous XK soft-top construction. It is not only lighter, it takes up significantly less volume when the roof is stowed, allowing more space for passengers and luggage. The rear window is toughened glass, with a heating element, and is bonded into the roof. The door glass automatically drops slightly as the doors are closed, and rises again to seal inside the roof water channels. Additionally, the Convertible's rear windows can be lowered even when the roof is up.
The soft-top is raised and lowered by a single press of a button, using hydraulic actuators and electronic controls. It will go from fully open to closed in under 18 seconds, which includes automatically raising the side windows and rear quarter glasses at the end of the cycle.
When the soft-top is up, the profile has sleek, elegant lines and the 'C' pillar area visually fits comfortably over the rear wheels. Attention to detail is continued with a chrome finishing strip fitted to the door capping and continuing around the soft-top base.
The new XK was created by Jaguar's new design team under the leadership of Design Director Ian Callum, to push Jaguar deeper into the 21 st century. The new XK's lines are bold and beautiful, powerful but elegant. In Ian Callum's words, it looks "just like a Jaguar should - powerful and exciting. That power comes from a sense of tension, muscle and form and is very much part of the new design language we are creating."
That new language begins with the proportions and stance, which are dramatically different from those of the previous XK. The new car sits on a longer wheelbase but it has markedly shorter overhangs, so it is very little longer overall. Its width, strong, high waistline and short, powerful haunches give an impression of a car hugging the ground, crouched, ready for action. With its dynamic hood and roof lines it looks much more compact, more contemporary, and extremely muscular and athletic - suggesting movement, power and agility even when it is stationary.
Although the new XK looks very compact, it has excellent luggage space, and the Coupe is designed to be able to carry two golf bags. Although the rear overhang is fully 4.8 inches shorter than on the previous XK, the rear luggage volume is only 0.28 cu. ft. less, or 0.78 cu. ft. more when the optional runflat tires are specified - and of course it has gained the enormous benefit of the all-new Liftback design, which provides excellent access to the loadspace area.
"I am very proud of the new XK," says Ian Callum. "It is contemporary with wonderful modern proportions yet we have succeeded in integrating design cues from our heritage. The front grille, for example, is pure E-type, and makes the perfect statement that this is, first and foremost, a Jaguar."
LIGHTWEIGHT VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY
All-aluminum construction gives best-in-class torsional rigidity for Coupe and Convertible
Lightweight body structure means better performance, handling, safety and economy
Volume production of aluminum monocoque body structure unique to automotive industry
Key to the all-new XK's character is Jaguar's industry-leading bonded and riveted aluminum monocoque body structure, introduced with the latest XJ saloons. The aluminum body incorporates the latest thinking in epoxy bonding and riveting techniques to produce a chassis that is very safe, as well as very light. In fact the new XK's aluminum chassis is significantly lighter and stiffer in both Coupe and Convertible form than the steel model it replaces - over 30 percent stiffer and an impressive 50 percent stiffer respectively.
As a consequence the new XK accelerates faster, uses less fuel and produces lower emissions than the model it replaces, while offering high levels of safety, reduced noise and vibration intrusion, and improved ride and handling characteristics thanks to improved suspension dynamics.
Jaguar's Lightweight Vehicle Technology is unique in the industry as a complete aluminum monocoque body structure as distinct from an aluminum spaceframe with separate aluminum panels. Developed from aircraft industry methods, where strength is critical for huge temperature variations and very high stresses during take-offs and landings, Jaguar's manufacturing process produces a massively strong but very light structure. The new XK takes the concept a step further with extended use of lightweight aluminum castings and extrusions as well as the pressed aluminum panels. Its strength and light weight come from the way the shell is constructed, using new jointing technologies developed by Jaguar and its suppliers.
There is only a single welded joint in the new XK Coupe body, the one 'cosmetic' joint on the roof. That also has an environmental benefit in that the body construction needs no high electrical current, produces no welding sparks or fumes, and needs no water for cooling. All the other joints in the new XK shell are formed using Jaguar's unique combination of riveting and bonding. Most joints are produced using self-piercing rivets applied by hydraulic pressure against a fixed tool. Where access to only one side of the joint is possible, as in some of the new extruded box sections, a new riveting process has been developed; and where particularly high stiffness is required in a joint, a combination of riveting and bonding is used - with the adhesive bond in effect creating a continuous joint which is stronger than a similar, riveted-only joint. All visible exterior panels are bonded to the underlying structure, and a new automated seam-sealing process seals all relevant areas of the shell before painting, to ensure that no gaps are missed.
In the new XK, a secondary front bulkhead of aluminum and composite materials helps reduce transmission of noise from the engine compartment and provides a dry area under the hood for accommodating electrical components. The new structure also has benefits in refinement; castings are used for the mounting points for the engine, transmission and suspension make those points significantly stiffer, further reducing transmitted noise and helping to improve suspension dynamics. In terms of long-term strength, Jaguar's all-aluminum shell has durability approaching twice that of a traditional spot-welded steel body.
Another major advantage of this Lightweight Vehicle Technology is that all the necessary stiffness is in the structure of the bodyshell, with very large rectangular-section side sills. So the Convertible, even without a roof, does not need the traditional extra stiffening panels seen on many other convertibles - meaning there is no added weight and no penalty in stiffness or refinement. The aluminum monocoque construction is the biggest contributor to the low overall vehicle weight of the new XK, and the Coupe shell is over 30 percent stiffer than the previous model, while the Convertible boasts an impressive 50 percent improvement in torsional rigidity.
That lightweight body significantly also offers a 10 percent improvement in power to weight ratio. The all-new XK is up to 90 percent stiffer than key rivals, with a curb weight of just 3,671 lbs (1,665 kg). In Convertible form the BIW weight, at just 633 lbs (287 kg) is 19 percent lighter than the previous XK Convertible.
"The lightweight vehicle architecture really helps the all-new XK to handle, steer and brake better than ever," says Al Kammerer, Product Development Director, Jaguar and Land Rover. "Imagine how much easier it is to turn a lightweight object travelling at speed compared to a heavy one. The aluminum chassis makes the XK so much more controllable in corners and a whole lot of fun to drive!"
Safety is another major benefit of this very strong construction method. That is partly inherent in aluminum as a material, which absorbs significantly more energy per kilogramme of material weight than steel when it is deformed. But the strength advantage doesn't only apply to high-speed impacts, it also means lower-speed accident repair costs are kept to a minimum. The reduction in the number of joints in the all-new XK further increases strength, and the front of the body is protected by easily replaced 'crush cans' that absorb the energy in impacts up to just over 9mph (15kph).
The all-new XK's all-aluminum doors are each over 13 lbs (6 kg) lighter than an equivalent steel door and their mountings are significantly stiffer, which allows smaller gaps. Mounting the window glass rails directly to the aluminum castings at the front and rear of the door gives better sealing from the frameless layout, and an impressively solid sound and feel when closed.
The all-aluminum Liftback rear door is strong, light and simple to operate. Once it has been lifted manually through the first 20 percent of its opening arc, gas struts lift it the rest of the way.
With lower weight and higher strength, Lightweight Vehicle Technology is the starting point for improved performance, safety, refinement, economy, emissions performance and driving dynamics in the new XK.
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