Jaguar has secured its position at the cutting edge of automotive design with the unveiling of its fastest-ever car.
The Jaguar XFR took the accolade after topping 225mph at a recent speed trial at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah - comfortably beating Jaguar’s previous speed record of 217.1, mph set in the XJ220 back in 1992.
With 75,000 workers in the United Kingdom anxiously awaiting news of a vital multi-million pound government loan to help JLR tough out the recession, the launch of the new model at the Detroit Motor Show will provide more evidence that the Warwickshire-based carmaker leads the world in engine technology and deserves the support of the government to help it get through the current credit crunch.
Jaguar Land Rover invests hundreds of millions of pounds annually in its research and development facilities at Whitley in Coventry and at Gaydon in Warwickshire - the seventh-largest R&D spend of any UK company - and it is this that industry watchers believe will persuade the government to offer a financial lifeline to the Indian-owned company.
Jaguar programmes director Mick Mohan hailed the XFR as the “ultimate Jaguar sports saloon” and said that it was the perfect showcase for the group’s cutting-edge design capabilities.
“This is the most technologically-advanced, fastest Jaguar we have ever produced - it’s a big statement of our capabilities,” he said. “This will be our to-of-the-range vehicle - these are cars competing with the best in terms of capacity, technology and performance.”
The XFR, which accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds, will take pride of place at the top of the XF range, a model which has sold around 42,000 vehicles since its launch last spring and has provided the momentum behind Jaguar’s recent buoyant performance, clocking up overall sales across all models of more than 65,000 cars last year.
“We have been delighted with the way the car has been received. At the last count, it had 29 global awards,” added Mr Mohan. “We are the only manufacturer in our sector in the UK with sales up for 2007. This signifies what Jaguar saloons will look like in the future - the XF is a global success story.”
Last week The Post, backed by four other leading regional newspapers, launched a campaign calling on the government to support JLR as its failure would be catastrophic, with 16,000 jobs directly affected and at least another 60,000 in the supply chain.
In an interview with The Post, Prime Minister Gordon Brown admitted that the government was in talks with JLR owner Tata but said there were issues to be resolved and that “first responsibility” lay with the Indian conglomerate.
Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, head of Warwick Manufacturing Group, who has close connections with the JLR parent group, welcomed the fact that talks were continuing. He said: “The mood has changed. Negotiations are taking place on the basis of respect for each other’s position. It is good to see that the government is moving in the right direction. Hopefully, a solution will be found by the end of the month.
“Nobody is asking for a bail-out and rightly so. The government has to be careful but we need to look after sustainable companies which are the future of this country.”