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Jaguar plots revival

Top of the range: The S-Type R will make its Australian debut at the Melbourne motor show in February.

Jaguar hopes to reverse a sales slump with two new models in the S-Type range

25 Jan 2002

JAGUAR Australia hopes the mid-year release of an expanded and rejuvenated S-Type range - complete with new entry level 2.5-litre model and 300kW S-Type R range-topper - will help arrest an alarming sales slide in 2002.

Land Rover aside, Jaguar realised the smallest growth rate of Australia's mainstream European vehicle importers in 2001, notwithstanding the arrival in September of its volume-selling X-Type medium sedan (which recorded just 329 sales for the year out of a possible "restricted supply" of 450 units).

Without X-Type, Australian Jaguar sales would have been almost 30 per cent down on 2000 figures, instead of the 3.2 per cent increase posted.

S-Type sales dropped from 725 units in 2000 to 533 last year, but the XJ sedan (201 to 125) and XK coupe/convertible (97 to 70) models fared even worse incrementally.

But Jaguar hopes to change all that with a number of new image-leading performance engines and variants and, in the short term, a bigger and better value S-Type sedan range.

Revealed at January's Los Angeles motor show and set to make its Australian debut at the Melbourne motor show in February, the S-Type R will headline the revised 2002 S-Type range when it arrives here during the middle of this year.

The most powerful Jaguar sedan ever offered is the first to employ the latest incarnation of Jaguar's updated, 4.2-litre AJ-V8, which in supercharged guise produces 298kW at 6100rpm, plus 553Nm of torque at just 3500rpm.

Said to reach 100km/h in just 5.6 seconds, the S-Type R is Jaguar's answer to the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG, albeit at a substant-ially reduced cost from the German manufacturers' near-$200,000 pricetags.

Also appearing in the 2002 S-Type model range will be the S-Type V8, complete with revised 4.2-litre V8 producing 224kW at 6000rpm and 420Nm at 4100rpm. The V8 S-Type is now said to accelerate to 100km/h in 6.5 seconds.

Corporate affairs manager Amanda Wheeler said Jaguar Australia's top-selling S-Types, the V6 models, would bring minor changes aimed at increasing their refinement levels.

Ms Wheeler said a new 2.5-litre V6 for S-Type, direct from the X-Type but producing slightly more power at 150kW, would provide a new, less expensive entry point for S-Typebuyers.

The S-Type range currently starts with the 3.0-litre V6 at $88,000 and it is believed the new 2.5-litre S-Type will undercut BMW's 525i sedan, which currently retails at $85,250. But pricing, equipment and projected sales figures for the 2002 model are yet to be decided.

"We are yet to finalise specifications of the 2002 S-Type for Australia and until that happens we can't announce pricing or sales predictions," she said.

"We'll have more answers by Melbourne motor show time but of course all S-Type prices will be extremely competitive with other cars in the segment and of course we're always trying to increase our sales volumes."While at least four MY2002 S-Types, including the R, will go on sale Down Under by mid-year, they will not be the last new Jags we see.

Although officially there is "no word from the factory" about an R version of the X-Type, Ford's Premier Automotive Group boss Wolfgang Reitzle has made known his intention to offer an R version of each Jaguar model.

Expected in late 2003, an all-paw X-Type R would be powered by a supercharged version of Jaguar's 3.0-litre AJ-V6, offering at least 240kW.

But Jaguar's hot model proliferation does not end there. PAG has plans to develop an all-new V12 to replace the group's existing engine - constructed using two Mondeo V6s - found in Aston Martin models. It would appear in Jaguar's next generation XJ sedan, due to appear in 2003, as well as the new Range Rover and top-end Lincolns.

Finally, a diesel V8, jointly developed with PSA Peugeot, is also in Mr Reitzle's engine plans for Jaguar. Although Mr Reitzle believes this is even more pressing than the V12 given the propensity for luxury car customers to buy large capacity diesels, it is understood a diesel V8 will not appear in Jaguar S-Type and XJ models - along with Range Rover, Discovery and some upper end Volvo models - for many more years.

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