2014 Jaguar XFR-S - First Drive - August 2013Enlarge Photo
If you like the cultured growl of a Jaguar XK or the fierce snarl of the new XFR-S, you'd best enjoy it while you can. Jaguar has said that the pressure of meeting future emissions regulations could rule out a future for its V-8 engines, and the British automaker is already exploring alternatives for future performance models.
According to Drive, that means more focus on the recently-introduced supercharged V-6 engines, but may also mean electric assistance for its most powerful models. V-8s have been the basis of Jaguar's performance models for the last few decades, and are currently found across the XK range, as well as in the highest-performance variants of the XF and XJ lineups. In supercharged form, the current units can deliver upwards of 550 horsepower.
The brand's most public exploration of powertrains beyond the V-8 came with the C-X75 supercar concept, which debuted at the 2010 Paris Auto Show. Initially equipped with a pair of range-extending jet turbines for its electric powertrain, Jaguar subsequently swapped it for a small turbocharged four-cylinder engine, capable of running to over 10,000 rpm. The project was canceled altogether at the end of 2012.
More recently, the firm's naturally-aspirated V-8 units have been phased out in favor of a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, offering similar performance with better fuel efficiency. The F-Type sports car is only offered with supercharged V-6 and V-8 units--though Jaguar has confirmed that supercharging isn't its only route to future performance.
"We are not wedded to supercharging as the defining technology to deliver performance," Jaguar's product and marketing director, Steven de Ploey, told Drive. "What we are wedded to is intelligent performance; today that is delivered through superchargers but tomorrow that could be anything."
Nor, he said is the company wedded to V-8 engines, and he believes Jaguar can survive without them. V-8s aren't likely to disappear from the Jaguar lineup for a while, as the firm still considers them vital for performance--but when that performance can be achieved using other technologies--like the electric drivetrain of the C-X75--then the company would consider such a move.
Jaguar isn't the first company to consider dropping multi-cylinder units. Volvo announced back in 2011 it had plans for an entirely four-cylinder lineup, revealed further in its recently-announced Drive-E engine technology.
Even if Jaguar does drop the V-8, all is not lost. After all, the British marque built much of its reputation on the back of six-cylinder units in the first place--from the E-Type sports car to the luxurious MkII 3.4. As long as Jaguar continues to deliver "space, pace and grace", the loss of V-8s doesn't necessarily mean the loss of real Jaguars.