Skintight lines

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 May, 2005, 12:00am

Jaguar has been carting the next XK sports GT, thinly disguised as a concept car which it calls the Advanced Lightweight Coupe, to major motor shows this year.

From the front, the car clearly takes its design cues from the current XK - the nose is slightly blunter but the oval grille, inspired by the revered E-type, is unmistakably XK.

Design changes are more dramatic at the back, with the conventional boot giving way to a roomy hatch.

Like the current XJ sports saloon, the new coupe makes extensive use of aluminium to keep its weight down. This includes aluminium body panels and forged aluminium double-wishbone suspension. The lightweight metal is also used in the cabin to accent the console, dash and steering wheel.

The Advanced Lightweight Coupe is powered by Jaguar's supercharged 4.9-litre V8 engine mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox.

The J-gate shift pattern gives way to a more conventional L-gate.

According to Jaguar, the coupe reflects the minimalist direction that the marque is heading in, especially in exterior design.

Head designer Ian Callum says there is no design for design's sake on the car body, no extraneous sculpture or unnecessary surfacing.

'We have produced a skin that is drawn taut across the chassis. One that covers the bare essentials underneath and nothing else - that's how a sports car body should be formed,' he says.

Some distinctive exterior details of the car, including the chrome side gills and large satin-finish brake ducts, will probably not make it into the final design of the next XK.