More than a hundred different base materials have gone into the Jaguar XFR's design and build, and the responsibility for researching, evaluating and testing them lies with the Materials Engineering department.
The department's 40 staff must help the design team weigh up a multitude of performance, cost and practicality issues – all while achieving that luxurious Jaguar look and feel. "We specify which materials we can and should use, validate materials for quality control and investigate new materials for the future," says Principal Materials engineer Steve Webber. "From pre-programme, through design and development, right through to validation, it's all about finding, developing and using the most appropriate materials for the specific applications."
Mg – Magnesium
Magnesium alloys are comparatively light and have incredible tensile strength. This makes magnesium ideal for use in the cross-car beam that runs behind the instrument panel of the Jaguar XFR. This high-tech solution reduces weight, compared with steel or aluminium equivalents, whilst maintaining strength and stiffness – crucial for a core structural component of the car's interior.
Au - Gold
Gold – long regarded as one of the most precious materials on the planet – is one of the most malleable and ductile metals, but it is also an excellent conductor of electricity. It is used in the electrical contacts for safety-critical components such as the ABS and airbag systems in preference to cheaper materials such as copper. This is a case where a little extra expense really does reap rewards.
Cr – Chrome
Chrome-plated components – used as a decorative tool on cars since the 1920s – have been selected for the interior and exterior of the Jaguar XFR thanks to their high-quality finish, their hard-wearing qualities and resistance to scratching. Although stainless steel is a viable alternative, chrome components remain the choice at Jaguar, as they are lighter and give a higher quality of finish.
St – Steel
Steel – an alloy of iron, carbon and other materials – is a core component of the Jaguar XFR, forming much of the body-in-white (the assembly of raw chassis and bodywork
components before they are painted). Carbon steels, alloy steels, high-strength alloy steels and stainless steels all have unique qualities and properties, making them ideal for a wide array of applications in the car.
Fe – Iron
Iron is the second most abundant metal in the Earth's crust, and cast iron comes in a variety of grades, made up of around 95 per cent pure iron, with carbon, silicon and other elements in the remaining five per cent. Cast iron has incredibly good wear resistance and is used in a number of areas on the XFR, including cylinder linings on the engine, as well as in the front axle, the active differential and the six-speed automatic gearbox.
Kv – Kevlar
A product of the DuPont company, Kevlar is a lightweight, high-strength, fibre-based material, used widely in industry, but perhaps most famous for its use in body and vehicle armour. One of its key applications in the XFR is in the speakers of the Bowers & Wilkins in-car audio system, which have been developed especially for the car. Kevlar has been selected as it improves the linearity of the audio response and reduces sound distortion.
Cu – Copper
Despite being popular in ancient times for its lustrous appearance, the copper on the Jaguar XFR is hidden. As it is highly malleable and ductile, and resistant to corrosion, copper is ideal for use as a first-layer coating on the chrome plating of interior and exterior trim elements. It bonds well to other metals, providing a good base for the nickel and chrome layers that significantly increase the durability and life of the part.
Pt – Platinum
Platinum is a relatively rare metal that is more valuable per ounce than gold. A couple of grammes (along with other precious metals) are used in the exhaust's catalytic converter. Platinum-coated beads encourage chemical reactions in the passing exhaust gases that change pollutants into much less harmful carbon dioxide and water, ensuring that the Jaguar XFR has minimal impact on the planet.
Al – Aluminium
Aluminium is the most abundant metal on earth. It's lightweight, is easy to form and naturally resists corrosion. As a result, aluminium is used at the heart of the Jaguar XFR on the cylinder block and head of the supercharged 5-litre V8 engine. The reduced weight of the components aids fuel economy, while the recyclable aluminium reduces the environmental impact of the car from first build to the end of its road-going life.
Rr – Rubber
Rubber has a number of applications on the Jaguar XFR – mostly to reduce vibration (in the Adaptive Dynamics suspension system or engine mounts) or in seals. But the application of rubber of most interest to Jaguar XFR owners will probably be in the Pirelli P Zero tyres, developed to provide a high level of grip for enhanced safety and performance, while retaining a low rolling resistance for improved fuel economy.
Gl – Glass
A range of glass is found in the XFR – in light bulbs and mirrors, the dashboard and seven-inch touchscreen. Laminated glass is used for the windscreen, as it allows the inclusion of embedded heater elements, and holds together on impact, increasing driver and passenger safety. Toughened glass is used for the side and rear windows. In the case of a breakage it fractures into small lumps, reducing the risk of injury.
B – Boron
Boron is a semi-metallic element, similar to carbon and silicon. Its presence in steel leads to increased hardenability and thus increased performance in specific applications. Boron steel acts as a reinforcing material across much of the Jaguar XFR's raw body-in-white framework, in particular for the A and B/C pillars that help form the XFR's distinctive roofline and play a key role in side-impact protection.
Zn – Zinc
Zinc is a relatively brittle metal that has incredible resistance to corrosion. Unaffected by exposure to dry air, in moist air it becomes coated with an oxide that protects it from further corrosion. As such, zinc is used as a coating on steel components, forming an essential part of the corrosion protection throughout the Jaguar XFR and supporting Jaguar's six-year corrosion warranty.
Pp – Polypropylene
Polypropylene is an incredibly versatile, durable and chemically resistant thermoplastic that is easily formed and shaped by injection moulding. Parts produced by this method are low in weight, making polypropylene an ideal material for a number of applications including bumpers and interior trim parts. Components made from polypropylene are also easily recyclable and can be made from high levels of recycled content.
Ct – Cotton
Cotton is one of only a handful of organic materials used in the car industry. Its unique natural properties make it ideal for use in heat-shield insulation. The open structure of wrapped cotton produces a lot of air pockets, making the aluminium-skinned insulation incredibly effective. There are man-made alternatives, but cotton is the material of choice as it is readily available and is sustainably produced and recyclable.
N – Nitrogen
An inert and odourless gas which makes up four-fifths of the Earth's atmosphere is used in the side airbag system. Pressurised nitrogen is the gas of choice as oxygen introduces the risk of corrosion. Argon could be used, but it's less easy to produce and more expensive, with little added benefit. Nitrogen is also used in the bonnet and boot opening systems to provide controlled movement during opening and closing.
Le – Leather
Jaguar selects the highest-quality soft-grain leathers for its vehicle interiors. Leather provides surfaces with a luxurious look and feel, as well as increased wear resistance, while being derived from a sustainable source. The hides used come from farms that pay attention to animal welfare and to the smallest of details – such as not using barbed wire at any point on the perimeter to ensure the hide is never punctured.
Xe – Xenon
Xenon gas has been used in high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps on premium-class cars since the early 1990s. Using xenon, Jaguar has been able to create more aesthetic and innovative lamps with auto-levelling and cornering features, helping increase visibility and safety for the driver. Although slightly more costly, xenon HID lamps long outlast standard halogen lamps and consume less electricity.
[Issue 1, 2009]