Lap happily in a kitty car

Jag’s small­est four-door yet is on the way to play the C-class

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News - PAUL GOVER Chief Re­porter in Spain paul.gover@cars­guide.com.au

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

@paulward­gover

The XF: Cur­rently Jag’s small­est sedan — but not for much longer

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