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Dramatic design on tap for next-generation model

Mon, 15 Jun 2009

Jaguar’s next-generation XJ luxury sedan will incorporate design features from the C-XF concept first shown at Detroit, AutoWeek has learned.

Although prototypes captured by spy photographers are disguised with BMW-style grilles, the face of the new 2010 XJ will feature Jag’s gaping square grille and a curvaceous body with a rakish, coupelike rear window. The final XJ incorporates slim headlights with double-projector lenses that are very close in design to those revealed on the dramatic C-XF shown at the 2007 North American International Auto Show.

Industry sources report that the xenon lights previewed on the C-XF weren’t ready for production in 2007, so they couldn’t be incorporated into the XF, the midsize sedan that arrived soon after the concept. But now, that technology is production-ready for the XJ.

Jaguar design chief Ian Callum says the XJ’s styling is the culmination of 30 years of learning.

“We think this car will appeal to people who understand design with a capital D,” Callum said.

The XJ is a clever reworking of the current, aluminum-bodied model, which had lackluster sales largely because of its Olde Worlde styling. Jaguar’s new flagship will break out with its dramatic design. Developed under Jaguar’s code-name system as project X351, the XJ shares its overall length and wheelbase with today’s car but has all-new sheetmetal and a new interior and powertrain.

Using what it learned from the XF, Jaguar repackaged the interior to get extra headroom, shoulder room and legroom. And there’s an all-new instrument panel, though with details such as the XF’s pop-up rotary gear selector.

The core engines are two Gen III AJ-series 5.0-liter V8s, a 510-hp supercharged version and a 385-hp unblown engine. For the United States, a 250-hp, 3.5-liter V8 in the entry-level model will battle competitors’ similarly powered V6s. The blown V8 XJ won’t be badged as an R; it will wear the SV8 moniker. That leaves room above the supercharged model for an even-higher-performance R edition.

The new XJ will be revealed at a special event in London on July 9, when the order book will open across the globe.

Both long- and short-wheelbase variants will be sold in the States, with deliveries to start in January 2010.

By Julian Rendell