Jaguar’s Finished As A Boutique Brand
Jaguars don’t drive like they used to and that’s a good thing. Take the new 2016 Jaguar XF, for example. It’s a big step forward from its predecessor and just part of a coming wave of new models that Jaguar hopes will lift it out of the junior luxury league.
Land Rover, the much more successful sister brand to Jaguar, is also filling out its product portfolio with the oddball Range Rover Evoque convertible and the smart choice diesel (yes, diesel) powered Range Rover.
Compared to the dominant German brands, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, Jaguar is a very small volume player in the US luxury market. That’s a problem for Tata Motors, the Indian owner of the storied British marque, which Tata bought (along with Land Rover) from Ford in 2008.
To expand Jaguar’s market reach and sales volume, Jaguar is launching the refreshed XF mid-size sedan, the all-new XE compact sedan and the all-new F-PACE crossover, all in 2016. And there’s more to follow.
The new XF boasts more technology, dynamic capabilities and is more efficient than its predecessor, says Mike Bradley, senior launch manager. With a roomier interior, choice of 340-hp or 380-hp V-6 engines, eight-speed automatic transmission and optional all-wheel-drive, the XF is well placed to compete with rivals such as BMW’s 5 Series and the Audi A6. “The XF is the center of gravity of the Jaguar range,” says Bradley.
Slotting in below the XF is the all-new compact XE sedan. Early reviews from European markets where the car is already on sale suggest it has the measure of the established segment leader, BMW’s 3 Series.
The five-passenger F-PACE takes Jaguar into new territory as the company’s first ever sport utility. The F-PACE’s key target is the successful Porsche Macan and the Jaguar sets out to emulate its sporty, high performance credentials, but with an added dose of practicality, in terms of relatively generous passenger and cargo space.
Jaguar executives refer to the F-PACE as the “ultimate practical sports car.” The focus on the vehicle’s sporty attributes is a deliberate effort to distance the F-PACE from the SUVs made by Land Rover (While Land Rover’s top end Range Rover models are luxurious and expensive, they are engineered to have go-anywhere capabilities, even if their owners rarely venture off-road).
Compared to a Range Rover, the F-PACE has modest off-road ability and is also priced much more affordably, starting at $40,990 in the US. The F-PACE pricing strategy is part of a deliberate effort by Jaguar to re-position itself in the luxury market. “Currently we are perceived as not affordable,” says Jaguar US CEO, Joe Eberhardt. “We are seen as a limited niche product and too expensive, so we need to position our cars in heart of market, not as the cheapest, but offering great value. We can’t sustain the company at our current sales volume.”
As for the new diesel powered Range Rover Td6, the model’s 3.0-litre V-6 in the Range Rover Td6 is extremely refined and smooth in regular on-road driving. And when it comes to crawling along rock-strewn off-road trails, the engine’s high torque output makes it very drivable and competitive with the Range Rover’s existing supercharged gasoline V-8 powertrain, not to mention significantly more fuel-efficient.
The image of diesel engines may have taken a knock because of the Volkswagen emissions scandal but in the case of Range Rover, the diesel option makes all kinds of sense.