Lap happily in a kitty car
Jag’s smallest four-door yet is on the way to play the C-class
JAGUAR is heading into the small-car business.
As the impressive F-Type sports car finally hits the road with the first Australian deliveries set for August, the focus at the Anglo-Indian brand has switched to an allnew model range to sit below the top-selling XF.
It will be a rival for the Audi A4, BMW3 Series, Lexus IS and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, although company insiders stress that the cars will be uniquely Jaguar.
‘‘ We’re working on it,’’Jaguar global brand director Adrian Hallmark has said.
‘‘ This sector is a third of the total premium segment.
‘‘ We’re missing out on a whole big chunk of the market.’’
No one at the cutting edge of Jaguar’s development teams is prepared to comment on the compact car but there are plenty of hints. And they go back as far as the compact RD-6 concept of 2003.
It’s likely that the first kitty Cat— most likely a four-door sedan— has already been cleared for production, since it takes a minimum of two years to convert the final styling design into a vehicle that’s running down the production line. And everything points to a 2015 launch for the car.
Jaguar is now running extremely profitably, just like sister brand Land Rover, with each model funding the next.
It is also adding new spinoffs of its existing models. The high-performance RS version of the XF is coming within months and there also will be the speedy luxo XJ-S.
Jaguar Land Rover is committed to spending $4 billion annually for the next four years as it stretches its line-up and adds production capacity for everything from the top-selling Range Rover and Range Rover Sport to the 3 Series rival. It sold 355,000 vehicles last year, most of them SUVs. There are plans for 16 individual models in the Land Rover range, including the successor to the geriatric Defender.
It is also building its offshore assembly operation, recently confirming a joint venture with Chery in China, assembling the Jaguar XF and Land Rover Freelander in India, and looking for another potential site in Saudi Arabia.
‘‘ You have to invest in big amounts of seed in order to reap the harvest, which is what we are doing,’’ company chief Ralf Speth says. There is also longer-term work on the successors to the XF, XJ and XK. These are expected to be spun from a reduced number of production platforms to cut costs and complexity.
‘‘ We’re now looking at models some way into the future,’’ Jaguar spokesman Paul Chadderton says. ‘‘ But nothing we’re doing is particularly outrageous.’’
Design director Julian Thompson also confirms that funding and directions are in place for the longer term, adding ‘‘ we’re looking at cars for 2018 and beyond’’. This reporter isonTwitter
The XF: Currently Jag’s smallest sedan — but not for much longer