DEL MAR, CA - After a decade undercontrol, Jaguar adds another refinement to its stable with the introduction of the XKR, a coupe and convertible, off the sleek XK platform with a supercharged 4L 370-hp DOHC V-8 sitting under the hood.
That brings Jaguar's model lineup to three - XJ, XK and S-Type - with a fourth, the X400 "baby Jag" on the way. And the venerable British luxury carmaker has its sights set on some (by Jaguar standards) staggering sales numbers.
Jaguar North America President Mike Dale reminds assembled journalists that only five years ago Jaguar sold 8,600 cars in the U.S. This year the number will likely quadruple that of 1994 and climb to 36,000, about half of the 75,000 cars Jag expects to sell worldwide in '99.
"It's as close as I'll see to an industrial miracle in my lifetime," says Mr. Dale.
He has other reasons to boast. The modernized Browns Lane plant in Coventry, England, has been rated as the second most efficient plant in Europe, and to top it off, all plant and product improvements have been entirely funded by Jaguar - a nice thing, as's already pumped in billions.
The new XKR features include a supercharged 4L AJ-V8 engine with dual intercoolers - also available in the XJR sedan - which yields a 5.2-second 0-to-60 mph (96 km/h) time in the coupe, a tenth of a second slower in the convertible. The engine is mated to a Mercedes-Benz MB5A 580 5-speed automatic transmission. Other refinements include Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS), ABS, variable ratio and variable assist power rack and pinion steering and 18-in. wheels with Pirelli P Zero tires.
And Jag is comparing its XKR with some top-drawer performers, targeting the Mercedes SL500 and Porsche 911 Carrera. Price for the XKR is $76,800 for the coupe and $81,800 for the cabriolet. That falls squarely between the SL500's $83,600 sticker and the $65,000 price tag on the 911 Carrera coupe and $74,465 for the Carrera cabriolet.
The XKR's 370 hp also overpowers the 302 hp for the M-B SL500 and the 296 hp for the 911 Carrera. Zero-to-60 times also give the Jag the edge. XKR's 5.3 secs. compares very favorably with the SL 500's' 6.1 secs. and the Carrera's 5.6 secs.
Jag wants the XKR to reach a younger, more affluent buyer than its XK8 stablemate. The target buyer is 47 with a household income of $350,000 (yowsah!); six years younger and $100,000 richer than the target XK8 buyer.