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Auto Show:  2011 Geneva Auto Show

Jaguar XKR-S - Geneva Auto Show

March 9, 2011

Some fifty years ago Jaguar introduced to a much smaller global community their soon-to-be iconic E-Type. With the 1961 Geneva Auto Show as the backdrop, Sir William Lyons' design and product team introduced what has – fifty years later – come to be regarded as one of the most significant automotive designs since World War II. And nostalgia is evident in Jaguar's plans to use this year's Geneva as a launch pad for an international celebration of the E-Type. In the enthusiast community, however, the ongoing disappointment is palpable; this year's Geneva show (again) doesn't bring an appropriate commemoration of the E-Type's launch with a truly desirable successor.

Instead, Jaguar's product team and relatively new ownership group bring us the XKR-S, a hyper-performance variant of Jaguar's venerable XK coupe. And while we wouldn't take anything away from its 550 horsepower V8, top speed of 186 miles per hour or 0-60 dash in 4.2 seconds, a significant part of the E-Type's charm was not seeing how fast you could get there; it was simply being seen. With its modest greenhouse and fastback proportions, the XK Coupe's architecture is all about getting there quickly while retaining your (relative) anonymity.

Early reaction to news of the XKR-S (reportedly due this fall) in the blogosphere was mixed. One observer noted the high-performance "alphabet branding" was growing tiresome, while another likened it to a British take on Mercedes-Benz's SL or the Chevrolet Camaro. And it's not as if Jaguar is enjoying a surplus of out-of-the-park homeruns in its stateside showrooms. Both the XF and new XJ certainly have their fans, but in most Jaguar stores monthly sales could be counted on your fingers and your toes.

We'll appreciate the dynamic that's inherent in taking to the Interstate in something so capable as Jag's new performance variant, while wishing Jaguar had announced the E-Type's oh-so-logical successor.

DAVID BOLDT began his automotive career in BMW and Saab showrooms in the 1980s, and he moved to automotive journalism in 1993. David has written for a variety of regional and national publications, and prior to joining AutoTrader, he managed media relations for a Japanese OEM.

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Jaguar XKR-S - Geneva Auto Show - Autotrader