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Jaguar in a show of strength

Coupe coup: Jaguar's R-Coupe is one of the stars at the Frankfurt motor show.

Jaguar reveals its R-Coupe - and with it a glimpse into the company's design direction

11 Sep 2001

JAGUAR has fired the first shot in the fight to win "star of the show" honours at Frankfurt, unveiling the R-Coupe days before the doors open on the bi-annual car extravaganza.

But the two-door four-seater is designed to be more than a show stunner.

It's also intended to preview the future look of Jaguar, most notably the forthcoming replacement for the XJ8, codenamed X350.

"With the R-Coupe we have the ability both to explore and to display our future design philosophy for Jaguar," Jaguar's design director Ian Callum said.

"The R-Coupe demonstrates that you can maintain traditional Jaguar design values - proportions, stance and graphic cues - and create an advanced car around them.

"The exterior of the R-Coupe looks engineered, not merely styled.

"Its integrity comes from strong, geometric forms such as the tubular fuselage - recalling that of the Jaguar E-Type."While the R-Coupe is constructed around the XKR's supercharged V8 drivetrain, there are no plans for production.

The R's front end curves come from the retro-styled S-Type and its grille, quad headlamps, rippled bonnet and sharp-edged wheel arches are reminiscent of classic Jaguars such as the MkII saloon and XK150 coupé.

It abounds with styling and technical flourishes - like the 10-spoke, 21-inch alloy wheels, cat-like "claw" tread pattern on the tyres and brake discs, and "union jack" side air inlets.

Lighting is unconventional. Four "pencil beam" xenon units at the front are designed to resemble camera zoom lenses and swivel when on main beam to follow the steering direction, lighting the way for the car around corners.

LED foglamps are hidden in the air intake "blades" on either side of the grille while thin indicators accentuate the front corners. The tail-lights are mounted in machined-aluminium bezels and incorporate brake lights which become brighter the harder you push the pedal.

Further examples of advanced technology incorporated into the car's design include F1-style "paddle shift" gear-changing, electronic door releases, personalisation of the interior environment for each occupant and a futuristic, voice-controlled telematics system.

Inside, the radical treatment continues with glass, metal and ebony veneers sweeping around the cabin.

Dark saddle leather replaces carpet on the floor while softer, cream-coloured hide covers the four individual seats. A central tunnel houses each silver-plated switch and even a built-in flask.

The dash instruments look as if they have been mounted upside down, thanks to hoods on the bottom and needles which park at the "two o'clock" position.

Neon night-time illumination is designed to make the rows of dials glow a deep orange-red.

A 15-strong advanced design studio, headed by Julian Thomson, took the lead role in bringing the R-Coupe to life.

X350 takes aim at German counterparts

JAGUAR'S X350 replacement for the XJ8, due for release in late 2002, is to be created from an all-aluminium construction and is aimed at rivalling future developments from leading German luxury car manufacturers Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW.

It is tipped to be a test-bed for a variety of innovations for Jaguar including a lightweight chassis and adjustable air-spring suspension, similar to that in the Mercedes S-class.

Safety is also expected to be high on the agenda, thanks to the development of an all-new, ESP-based, traction-control system that places sensors within the wheels to monitor any loss of grip.

It will be available in both standard and long-wheelbase forms.

A Daimler variant will go on sale the following year and will share the X350 platform. But European reports say it will be larger and feature restyled front and rear ends to distinguish it from its Jaguar sibling.

Power for the new models will come from the current 3.0-litre V6 plus three V8s, putting out up to 300kW.

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