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Frankfurt Motor Show: Jaguar XK

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We've already seen - and indeed, had a high-speed ride in - the all-new Jaguar XK, but in Frankfurt, we learned a little more about its clever pedestrian-friendly bonnet. Not the most obvious technology for a high-performance sports car to pioneer, but similar bonnets will appear on other Ford Motor Company models in due course as well.

Jaguar calls the system PDBS: Pyrotechnic Pedestrian Deployable Bonnet. Effectively, if the driver runs into someone, the bonnet pops up a few inches to cushion them from the impact, creating a space between them and the hard, immovable - and hot - engine components. This all "takes place in less than a tenth of the time it takes to blink an eye", says Jaguar - around 30milliseconds to lift the 18kg bonnet, which demands acceleration of around 50g, or 50 times the force of gravity. The front bumper also incorporates crushable foam and plastic, and protects against leg injuries to pedestrians in particular.

The system was developed by Jaguar's engineering centre at Whitley, near Coventry, and has been thoroughly tested in practice as well as by computer simulation. It can distinguish between different types of impact, with inanimate objects such as road cones as well as with unfortunate people, and deploy - or not - accordingly.

This bonnet will enable the XK to meet upcoming European and US crash safety legislation - crucially, without compromising its design. "The Jaguar design team embraced the idea of using a deployable bonnet when it was first considered during early concept discussions on the new XK. This clever feature saves between 50 and 65mm in height off the bonnet surface and a similar amount off the roofline, allowing the design team to maintain a very low, sleek Jaguar sports car profile on the new XK," said design director Ian Callum.

The new XK coupe goes on sale in early 2006 with a naturally-aspirated 300bhp 4.2-litre V8. Supercharged XKR versions will follow, as will convertible versions.
 
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