Jaguar was one of the stars at the Geneva Motor Show yesterday when it unveiled the latest - and fastest ever - variant of its successful XK sports car.
The Castle Bromwich-built XKR-S has a top speed of 174mph - 19mph more than the XKR from which it is derived.
And in line with Henry Ford, founder of the US car company that currently owns Jaguar, it is available in any colour - provided it is black. Production of the £80,000 car will be limited to just 200 units, all of them in Ultimate Black, Jaguar said on press day at Geneva yesterday.
The new XF mid-range saloon car was expected to be the big draw on the Jaguar stand, but much of the limelight was stolen by the XKR-S, which the company seemed to have kept up its sleeve.
Powered by Jaguar's proven 4.2-litre V8 supercharged engine, it "has been developed for the true Jaguar enthusiast", the company said.
The European head of General Motors, which owns Vauxhall and Opel, gave a downbeat appraisal of market prospects this year.
Carl-Peter Foster said he believes the overall European market could show no growth at all in 2008 as recessionary economic influences begin to bite.
But, he stressed, the picture varied widely between countries. "Germany is recovering, Spain and Britain are down, but Russia is booming," Mr Foster said.
Opel/Vauxhall is looking to expand its 2007 operating margin of two per cent, but low profitability is an industry-wide problem among volume manufacturers, Mr Foster said, blaming the problem in part on a sharp increase in steel prices.
"The steel industry has consolidated too much," he said.
Tough new emissions legislation was also eroding profitability, Mr Foster added.
French group PSA Peugeot Citroen also took a gloomy view the European market yesterday.
Chief executive Christian Streiff revised his forecast from "flat to higher" to "flat to lower" on the back of lower sales in Britain and Spain.
Recent market developments were not encouraging, but Mr Streif said he did not think the more serious downturn in the US would have a sizeabe knock-on effect on European markets overall.
Also in Geneva yesterday, Italian sports car maker Lamborghini introduced a lighter, faster and cleaner version of its most successful model ever, the Gallardo.
It produces 18 per cent less CO2 than the previous model and puts the Volkswagen-owned company on track to cut the carbon emissions of its cars by 40 per cent in time.
Meanwhile, car giant Toyota is to invest £88 million at one of its factories in the UK to build a new small petrol engine. The Japanese firm said production of the engine would start in late 2009 at the plant in Dee-side, North Wales.