Following the unveiling of the new Jaguar XK coupé two weeks ago, here’s the convertible version – and it’s going to be here just a few months after the coupé goes on sale in February 2006. The convertible XK is vital to help arrest Jaguar’s sliding profits in the USA, where 83 per cent of XK sales go to the soft-top, and globally it outsells the coupé.
Thanks to the XK’s rigid aluminium structure, the new convertible promises to be much more of a driver’s car than the current model. And the additional bracing and reinforcement necessary to strengthen the structure after the roof has been removed has added just 40kg to the coupé’s kerbweight; the convertible weighs in at 1635kg, making it the lightest in its class.
Although closely related to the coupé, the convertible was designed as a separate model from the beginning of the XK project. But the fabric hood, which folds into a storage compartment in front of the boot, means the convertible loses the impact of the coupé’s narrow cabin and wide haunches. It also replaces the neat oval of the coupé’s rear window with a more angular shape. Roll-over protection is provided by a pair of pop-up hoops, normally hidden from view.
Like the coupé, the convertible will initially be available with the 300bhp 4.2-litre V8 that will propel it to 60mph in 6.0sec, only 0.1sec slower than the tin-top, and on to an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph. The transmission will also be the same as the coupé’s; a six-speed auto with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. The launch model will be joined by an XKR version later next year, with a 400bhp supercharged V8. And there’s also the possibility of using the forthcoming 3.2-litre straight-six petrol engine, as well as a diesel straight-six – Jaguar’s 2.7-litre V6 turbodiesel will not fit in the XK’s engine bay.