Jaguar’s next-generation XK sports car will have a near-300bhp V6 diesel-powered variant in its line-up when it goes on sale around 2013.

The British manufacturer’s first ever diesel-powered sports car will get a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 to take on models like the BMW 635d, which has become the best-selling car in its class in the UK and Europe.

See Autocar's rendering of the new Jaguar XK

Jaguar XK 'could have grown'

In the new, lightweight aluminium-alloy XK, the punchy 3.0 turbodiesel promises a practical mix of performance and economy, with 0-60mph in under five seconds and a combined average of 30mpg within its grasp.

With V8 levels of torque on offer, the XK D could even become the ‘sleeper’ in the range, boasting giant-killing in-gear acceleration for strong point-to-point driving pleasure.

Significantly, as the market has shifted towards diesel sports cars, it should also help to lift the XK’s production average back up to 10,000 to 12,000 units per year by exposing the XK to a large new market segment.

To refresh the Jaguar sports car concept, the XK will feature all-new sheetmetal and a new grille design that will ditch today’s ‘Spitfire wing’ oval shape, which dates back to the E-type of the 1960s.

This traditional shape will be dropped for two reasons. Firstly, it can’t easily be expanded to make a bolder front-end statement. “It just looks wrong when it’s stretched,” said one insider. Secondly, the oval shape has proved to be less of a success overseas, where research shows it can be confused with other brands’ grilles.

Instead, Jaguar is deriving a new shape from the oblong design launched on the XF, but with its own unique characteristics. “The studio has explored dozens of variations. It’s just a matter of choosing the right one,” said another insider.

The XK’s exterior sheetmetal is also expected to move Jaguar design further forward again, just as today’s Ian Callum-designed model did when it was launched in 2006. Although the final styling still has to be chosen, the favoured sketches are understood to feature crisper metalwork and more developed body surfacing.

As with today’s car, both hard-top coupé and open-top convertible body styles will be available. The cabrio will retain a soft-top roof for packaging, styling and marketing reasons.

As the interior quality of competitors continues to increase, so the XK will respond with the highest-quality cabin ever seen in a Jaguar sports car. The design inspiration comes from the new XJ, with that car’s clever blend of hand-stitched leather and hi-tech materials taken to a new level. Expect the TFT-screen instrument panel technology developed for the XJ to be employed in the XK, along with the XJ’s electrical harness and system.

Under the skin the new XK is less ambitious, featuring a carried-over rivet-bonded platform of alloy extrusions borrowed from today’s car; Autocar understands that this key decision has been firmed up in recent months. That will keep the XK’s 2+2 cabin and relatively compact dimensions intact.

Much of the new car’s undercarriage is expected to be carried over, such as the front and rear axles and adaptive suspension, albeit with tuning improvements. The same goes for the powertrains, which will major on V8 petrol engines — both supercharged and normally aspirated — alongside the V6 diesel.

Julian Rendell

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