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Jaguar prepares for model onslaught

Cat attack: Jaguar's second-generation XF (left) will share its lightweight underpinnings with the smaller XE, but be repositioned in Australia to better compete with the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6.

XE variants and more SUVs on the cards as Jaguar gears up for a big few years

31 Aug 2015

JAGUAR is expected to introduce more variants of its mid-size XE sedan, while a family of SUVs and a sub-XE small hatch are on the cards, as the car-maker ramps up its global expansion plans.

Under the ownership of Indian conglomerate Tata Group since 2008, Jaguar and sister company Land Rover have received massive investments to product development and technology advancements, which are just now bearing fruit.

The just-launched XE follows the successful F-Type halo car that effectively re-launched the brand globally in 2013, while the all-new XF arrives later this year, followed by the company's first SUV – dubbed F-Pace – midway through next year.

Earlier this year, British publication Autocar reported that Jaguar was planning a family of SUVs that will follow on from the F-Pace, including a sub-compact model that could compete with Audi's mooted Q1 crossover.

When asked to comment on the car-maker's possible plans for a family of SUVs, Jaguar Land Rover Australia managing director Matthew Wiesner was coy, but suggested there was some “exciting” product to come.

“There is a lot of thinking going on around what Jaguar can become,” he told GoAuto at the XE launch in Far North Queensland last week.

“And quite frankly you can look across the whole market structure as to what really Jaguar could become and how it could fit and I know the guys in the UK have a similar opinion and have a very broad view of where the market is today, but more importantly, where we think it will be in 2025.

“And that is pretty exciting. When you put the potential of what we are creating globally now and what we are already seeing with Land Rover and Range Rover and the things we are going to add to that in the future, it is a pretty exciting and pretty dynamic group to be involved in.”

Jaguar's design director Ian Callum has previously stated that different derivatives of the XE are possible, and while he has not publicly stated what they will be, there is speculation that a two-door coupe and a wagon are likely.

Other variants of the XE sedan are also expected, with rumours of an XE R that would do battle with the BMW M3, Mercedes-AMG C63 and Audi RS4.

Mr Wiesner was asked whether there was room for more variants in the XE line-up, given the price gap between the petrol-powered Portfolio at $70,400 and the range-topping (for now) XE S at $104,200 plus on-road costs.

“Never say never. We have a fairly broad view of what we can do with the Jaguar range full stop and obviously XE is important there.”

Mr Wiesner highlighted the importance of JLR's recently launched Special Vehicle Operations unit that will produce high-performance versions of a number of models from both brands.

“The advent of the SVO means that in time that is going to create opportunities around both brands and is especially important for Jaguar. SVO's role becomes really important over the next few years.

“Look at the success of AMG with Benz. It's probably the best example of how successful that is. They have done it well across their range and I reckon if we treat the brands in the right way that will play a big part of what Jaguar will be in the future.”

With the launch of the XE, Mr Wiesner said the next-gen XF – which shares its underpinnings with the XE and arrives in Australia before the end of this year – will be repositioned after trying to cover both the mid-size and large premium sedan segments Down Under in its current guise. Mr Wiesner added that the company was expecting XF sales to contract slightly as a result of its repositioning.

“As we then push it (XF) back up into directly competing with BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class, so you’ll see XF will become more traditional in its role, whereas XF we have pulled down in its current guise, has sort of been trying to have a foot in each segment.

“It’s done and admiral job for a car that has been around for about seven years, it’s a very attractive product and it has aged gracefully. It has been kind of unfair and its quite a big car so there is a lot of people that don’t want a car that size and would prefer something that is the size of an XE.” JLR Australia general manager of communications and public relations Tim Krieger reiterated Mr Wiesner's comments, and suggested that the XF had been compromised in recent years due to its positioning.

“XF re-establishes itself as an executive saloon. XF without having that entry level car has really been squeezed,” he told GoAuto.

“It was launched as a $100,000-plus which is now being sold from around $70,000 mark which means you have to take spec out, it's probably compromised the product to a certain degree. Now we don’t need to do that. We can clearly position it where it should be with a clear ID.” Mr Krieger said JLR Australia would look at all models offered to it from the global product portfolio, but would only introduce it if it ticked a series of boxes for the local market.

“We look at the opportunities with every new model offering and see if there is a market,” he said. “Is there a solid business equation? Can we have impact in that segment? If we can come to a positive resolution on all of those things then absolutely.

“For us the logical areas are areas where the competitors play, there are lots of opportunities there. There are certain areas you would steer clear of especially when you have got sedans and SUVs. There are some offerings where … there is a bit of crossover there so you don't really need it.

“We are about growth, so we would be looking at every opportunity to try and build what we have got at the moment.”

When asked if there was room in Jaguar's future product portfolio for a sub-XE premium hatch to take on the likes of the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Mr Krieger said such a model could work, but only if a business case stacked up.

“I think there is room, most certainly. It comes back to the areas – is there a market for it, is there a solid business equation to do it, and can we have a competitive offering, and we would look at all those areas before we made a commitment.

“But clearly, you look at what is going on in the marketplace with our key competitors and they all play in that space. So further down the track who is to say what will come, but at the moment we are very clear about where we want to be, we have got to just introduce this very important car (XE).”

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