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Jaguar plots aluminium XJ

Big cat: Jaguar's ageing XJ sedan range will make way for a high-tech replacement in 2002.

Jaguar is developing a state-of-the-art contender with which to tackle the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-class

Jaguar logo18 May 2000

JAGUAR plans to take a high-tech route with its new XJ sedan range, due to be launched in 2002.

The British car-maker's new four-door flagship is likely to make extensive use of cutting-edge aluminium technology, according to Automotive News.

Best known for its excellent ride quality and sumptuous wood and leather interiors, Jaguar's large sedan has struggled to meet the challenge of more modern rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz in recent years.

The British marque - which is owned by Ford - plans to beat the Germans at their own game with its lighter and more agile new XJ.

Automotive News suggests the next generation XJ - code-named X350 - will use an aluminium monocoque structure held together by about 2000 rivets.

It is believed the aluminium structure could result in a weight saving of about 200kg compared with the current car, although it may add about $1750 to its overall cost.

The new XJ may grow in dimensions slightly as it is currently positioned between the BMW 5 Series and 7 Series. It also sits a bit too close to its smaller S-Type sibling, launched last year.

Cramped rear seat legroom has been one of the biggest criticisms of the current XJ and Jaguar will, no doubt, attempt to rectify this with the new model.

The car will be built at Jaguar's Browns Lane Factory and annual production volume will be less than 30,000 cars.

Like the S-Type, the XJ's styling is likely to draw inspiration from its ancestors. Its interior is also expected to retain the old-world charm the marque is famous for.

Meanwhile, Jaguar is gearing up to take on the BMW 3 Series and revamped Mercedes-Benz C-class - due here in November - with its new compact car.

Code-named X400, the compact Jag may make its Australian debut at the Melbourne motor show next February/March.

The small prestige sedan is expected to be based on a Mondeo platform - turned around for rear-wheel drive - with power coming from 2.5-litre and 3.0-litre V6 engines.

A four-wheel drive version is also rumoured. Pricing would be in the $58,000 to $80,000 range.

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