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LA Show: Jaguar XKR-S convertible breaks cover

Limited numbers of Jaguar’s 300km/h XKR-S convertible for Oz – from next March

Jaguar logo17 Nov 2011

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

JAGUAR has taken the wraps off the convertible version of its mighty XKR-S sports car at this week’s Los Angeles motor show, revealing it will match the coupe’s acceleration performance and 300km/h top speed.

Jaguar Australia brand manager Kevin Goult told GoAuto that the fastest and most powerful convertible in the British luxury brand’s history will come to Australia, priced “near to $360,000”, with first examples arriving next March at the earliest.

“We had an enquiry the minute we showed the XKR-S coupe,” said Mr Goult.

Jaguar has sold eight of the $340,000 XKR-S coupes in Australia – in addition to a press demonstrator – all of which have been allocated an early January production slot.

The number of XKR-S models on Australian roads will be limited to around ten, meaning the hot Jaguar will enjoy a similar level of exclusivity as the Lexus LFA supercar costing more than twice as much.

“While we are not saying this will be strictly limited to 10 at this point, we decided to manage it at eight and then see if that creates a bit more energy for the car,” said Mr Goult.

“Because we knew the convertible was coming (but could not announce it) we didn’t want to exhaust the segment.”

Although the 1795kg XKR-S convertible is 42kg heavier than the coupe and has the same 405kW/680Nm supercharged 5.0-litre V8, the two variants have identical performance figures with a claimed 0-100km/h acceleration time of 4.4 seconds.

6 center imageLeft: XKR-S convertible. Below: C-X16.

The only major technical difference is the “acoustically treated” folding hood – available in seven colours – that can deploy in 18 seconds and has been proven to withstand the car’s electronically limited 300km/h maximum speed.

In addition to the beefed-up V8 that makes the XKR-S Jaguar’s fastest-ever drop-top, it shares the coupe’s aggressive-looking aerodynamic bodykit, track-bred suspension set-up, recalibrated steering and lightweight 20-inch forged alloy wheels.

Meanwhile, huge 380mm front brake discs – and almost as big at 376mm on the rear – are grabbed by aluminium callipers that provide a front friction surface area 44 per cent greater than the regular XK.

Developing the drop-top XKR-S was simplified because the XK’s largely aluminium structure was engineered from the outset as a convertible, rather than originating as a coupe and then re-engineered as a convertible.

Jaguar chief engineer for vehicle integrity Mike Cross said: “This allowed us to apply the XKR-S coupe’s sporting suspension settings to create a convertible with no compromises.

“Its blend of great speed, precision and dynamism is given an extra dimension with the roof down and that thrilling exhaust soundtrack.”

Also drawing the crowds at the LA show was Jaguar’s C-X16 hybrid sports car concept – first unveiled at Frankfurt in September but repainted in Neutron White.

The sub-XK two-seater’s low 1600kg weight and hybrid drivetrain promises performance equalling that of the XKR-S while consuming around half the fuel.

Its 3.0-litre supercharged petrol V6 pumps out 280kW of power and 450Nm of torque – an impressive specific output of 93kW per litre – supplemented by a 70kW/235Nm electric motor bolted to its eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.

The hybrid matches the XKR-S for performance –sharing the same 4.4-second 0-100km/h time and 300km/h top speed – but almost halves the fuel consumption at just 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres (against 12.3L/100km for the XKR-S).

Mr Goult said Australian Jaguar Dealers had already reported customers expressing an interest in the C-X16 and that Jaguar Australia “will be near the front of the queue” should it go into production.

He said that, aside from “things like the mirrors and some of the seating activity”, the C-X16 as presented could in theory be put into production.

“We really want to make a smaller sports car (and) this could well be one of those (40) new models that JLR launches over the next five years,” he said.

Mr Goult added that, since being separated from the Ford-owned Premier Automotive Group and coming under Indian-based Tata control, Jaguar is more comfortable about competing with British rival Aston Martin.

“We’ve always shared a bit of territory and when we were under the Premier Automotive Group it was a bit harder to compete against them because there were boundaries we didn’t want to cross.

“Now we have a different ownership, I wouldn’t say the gloves are off, but we are not afraid to cross that boundary.”

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