Baby Jag Speaks Loudly, Carries A Soft Shift
Autocar reports that the new “Baby Jag” roadster, will hit the European market by late 2012, cost £40,000 (about the same as a Boxster S) and “will blow the rest of the industry away.” According to the British buff book
The styling of the XE, Autocar understands, follows the company’s philosophy of “expressing lightness”. This is a new Jaguar styling principle that should result in the shape of future models “visually reflecting” the fact that they are made entirely of aluminium.
Unfortunately, because it shares its all-alu platform with the next-gen XK, it won’t be quite as light as a Boxster, with production weight estimated at 3,300 lbs. But, because this video only shows the “XE” (the name is still a matter of hot debate inside Jaguar) test mule, the most relevant detail is the drivetrain: a V6 of unrevealed displacement, in naturally-aspirated and supercharged forms, and hitched to an eight-speed automatic. The engine in this test video exhibits a nice, “emotional” raspy edge that is sure to satisfy in top-down driving, but the final clip of the video gives me the slushbox blues. Skip ahead to the 3:50 mark, when the mule accelerates from a stop, and it’s clear that (at least in mule form) this car shifts softly enough to sound almost like a CVT. Let’s hope they were just testing “touring” or “eco” mode or somesuch, because if you aren’t going to offer a manual transmission in a roadster, the slushbox needs to at least be able to bang some hard shifts when necessary.
As a Jag owner, I have my fingers crossed that someone, somewhere, inside Jaguar understands that a manual transmission (or semi-automanual) is required for admitance into sportscar-dom. I don't have much faith in that, however. And yeah, the slurring of the exhaust note with that kind of bark from an automatic change is pretty ridiculous. Pretty much says that you like sportscars, but can't be bothered with the 'hassle' of shifting for yourself. I can't imagine they'd have such a loud exhaust on a production car.
The snout on that unit would be a lot prettier (and more XK-E-like) if they'd french the screen door back into it a bit. Maybe they will on the real thing. And the circular/fade/wipe dissolves on that video are adorable.
Ed, who shot the spy video? Great work.
The JK (in all its variants) comes only in an automatic. I don't have much, if any hope for a manual transmission in this car. And it probably won't have a dual clutch either.