Jaguar XKR-S Convertible Unveiling

Writer Collins Reiter at the Jaguar Launch Party in Beverly Hills, November 2011

Writer Collins Reiter at the Jaguar Launch Party in Beverly Hills, November 2011

This year Jaguar launched one of the most highly anticipated cars at the LA Auto Show, the all new XKR-S convertible.  Prior to the show opening, a select few gathered at Two Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills to witness the official unveiling of the sexy new addition to the Jaguar fleet.  GoTryke contributor Collins Reiter attended the star-studded event and later caught up with Tim Philippo, Product Manager for Jaguar North America, at the auto show.

It was business as usual at the Jaguar Launch party in Beverly Hills.  Press mingled with celebrities, sipping cocktails and wine, enjoying various appetizer offerings.  Guests admired the Jaguar C-X16 concept car, and Land Rover’s DC100 and DC100 Sport elegantly on display.  Then, as the lights dimmed and the pulsating sound of Coldplay’s “Paradise” was heard, amidst smoke and flashing lights, the all new Jaguar XKR-S convertible made it’s debut and a hushed silence fell over the crowd.  Arguably the most stunning car in Jaguar’s line-up, this new model is everything consumers and enthusiasts have to come to expect in a Jag.  The perfect balance between luxury and ultimate performance.  Beneath the elegant lines lies a 550hp supercharged AJ-V8 Genii petrol engine that’ll do 0-60 in 4.2 seconds and top out at 186 mph.  Open this engine up with the top down, and that’s a lot of wind in your hair.

Not to be upstaged by a flashy arrival, the C-X16 Concept also garnered quite a bit of attention at the event.  The C-X16 is a sneak peak at the future of Jaguar, not only in design, but in sustainable technology.  The supercharged 3.0L petrol V-6 engine prods 380PS (280KW) and 332 lb.-ft. of torque.  Top speed is 186 mph and it goes from 0-60 in 4.4 seconds.  The hybrid powertrain is a combination of a V6 engine and a performance-boosting electric motor, which helps reduce fuel consumption and enables the car to have zero tailpipe emissions at up to 50 mph.

2012 Jaguar XKR-S Convertible

2012 Jaguar XKR-S Convertible

Two days after the event, sitting in the cockpit of the XKR, I spoke with Tim Philippo, Product Manager for Jaguar North America, about their sports car fleet, the possibility of a Jaguar SUV and what’s next for the dynamic luxury brand.

Tim, who has been with Jaguar for three years now, expressed what an exciting time it is to be with the brand right now, particularly given the new sports options.  The XK line offers three levels of coupe, with the XKR-S tipping the scales at 550hp.  The best part about a Jag is the incredible versatility. “It’s a car that you can drive to work Monday through Friday, but then take it to your local racetrack for a day and lay down a wicked lap time,” Tim stated.  That’s only the beginning of what Jaguar intends to do in the future.

With the C-X75 last year, they made a concept hybrid supercar they now plan to put into limited production with an estimated price tag of a whopping $1 million.  With it’s all wheel drive, projected 0-60 in under 3 seconds and a top speed of over 200mph, Jaguar is confident it can not only deliver on it’s specifications, but command the price tag.  As Tim put it, “We’re aiming for the fastest, most sustainable supercar in the world.”

He also stated, “We have a long history of moving the design game forward in the automotive world.”  While other car companies resort to gimmicks and feature options, Jaguar has no wasted lines and no wasted space.  The company philosophy is to get the proportions right and you get a car that ages well, that can still make an impact at a show 10-50 years down the road.  In fact, he shared the Museum of Modern Art in New York City has a 1963 E Type Jaguar in their permanent collection, which solidifies the impact it has as a timeless and elegant design.

While Ian Callum and team focus on the design, Tim’s main focus is the consumer.  “What I do on the product side is I try to make sure the product delivers what customers are looking for and deliver a unique Jaguar experience,” he said.  That unique experience includes everything from a base 385hp engine, to soft grain leather interior made from the hides of cows raised in Italy away from barbed wire to preserve the quality of the leather, to an interior that generally appeals to all five senses.  Jaguar strives to put a lot of content in their cars.  Every car has a high level of standard equipment.  Not only is the performance under the hood critical, but a luxurious ride as well.  A lot of technology is put into the suspension of the cars.  Adaptive Dynamic reads the road surface 500 times per second and adjusts the dampers to suit the conditions.  When the car is in Dynamic mode, it firms up the suspension, and sharpens the steering, aiding the driver in engaging with the car while on the racetrack.  “One of the great things about driving a Jaguar is it gives you confidence when you drive it.  You feel connected,” Tim pointed out.

This observation prompted me to ask if Jaguar was planning to follow in the footsteps of Porsche and Maserati with a Jaguar brand SUV.  His answer was direct and to the point. “Yes, we actually have about 7 or 8 of them and they are parked right over there,” he said indicating to the Land Rover and Range Rover models on the auto show floor.  Land Rover and Jaguar are the same brand.  Tim was quick to acknowledge they are Jaguar’s SUV.  By keeping Jaguar in the sports car and sedan segments, “It allows them to stay true to who they are and do what they do best and allows us to stay true to who we are,” he said.

My final question to Tim was what’s next?  What can consumers expect from Jaguar?  Will the C-X16 go into production?  His answer was simple. “We can’t comment too much on future product, but I can say that when we do a concept car, it’s usually not a flight of fancy.  It usually is we’re exploring something…but we put it out there to try to gauge public reaction to it.”  He further commented by saying, “We have a lot of engineers and researchers working on what does sustainable performance look like for Jaguar and C-X16 is really kind of a post in the ground for us, as to this is what we think the future of the sustainable sports car is going to be.”

So what does the future look like for Jag?  Based on Tim’s response it looks a lot like the C-X75 and C-X16 in the sports car arena.  I’m inclined to agree with Tim’s assessment when he said, “…it’s a great future.”

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