15 October 2004

This curious beast is a development prototype for the all-new Jaguar XKR. The picture was snapped at the Nürburgring circuit where the company has its own engineering centre. Jaguar engineers have fitted an XJ saloon with the nose design – mock headlamps and part of the bonnet nose cone – of the new XK coupé. Under the nose is the engine and cooling system for the new XKR. It’s easy to tell that the engine on test here is the supercharged version because of the characteristic bonnet vents on display.

By exactly mimicking the openings in the new XK’s nose, Jaguar engineers can replicate the airflow into the front of the car and make sure that any potential over-heating problems are ironed out before tests begin with the XK prototypes. The XJ is an ideal donor because the new XK is based on the same aluminium chassis, albeit in shortened form. Using the supercharged engine as the first prototype to be tested also helps the development process, because the immense heat generated will really stretch the cooling system to the limit.

If you examine the nose job in detail it’s clear that the next XK will stick pretty closely to the established Jaguar theme. The oval grill and soft, rounded nose are both present and correct.

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However, you can disregard the heavily fluted bonnet details – they belong to the XJ. The new XK has less of the ‘olde-worlde’ details and more sheer, modern surfaces. Insiders say there’s more than a hint of Aston Vanquish about the new car’s haunches. Design chief Ian Callum has had to tread a line between modernity and the familiar XK look. It’s widely felt at Jaguar that the XK coupé was the best work of late design boss Geoff Lawson.

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