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Next-gen Jag XJ on the way

Claws out: Jaguar is working on a new XJ limousine and design director Ian Callum says it will be different from the other high-end large sedans.

Jaguar’s next-generation XJ limo to be different from other large premium sedans

18 Jul 2016

JAGUAR is in the throes of developing a new-generation version of its XJ limo, according to the leaping cat brand’s design director, Ian Callum, despite the stiff competition and low volumes in the niche premium upper-large sedan segment.

The existing X351-series XJ went on sale in Australia in mid-2010 and has a design that brought the nameplate into the 21st century and away from the traditional XJ look that it has carried since the original model launched in the late-1960s.

Global sales of some high-end passenger models such as the XJ and its direct rivals including the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class have declined in recent years thanks to buyers downsizing or moving across to SUVs.

Volumes of the aforementioned models in Australia have dropped from a combined total of more than 1000 units in 2000, down to 640 units in 2005 and 543 last year.

The XJ was given a mid-life refresh late in 2015 and went on to sell 47 units for the year, well behind the segment-leading Mercedes-Benz S-Class (331).

Mr Callum, who oversaw the design of the current XJ, confirmed that Jaguar was developing the next-generation model and acknowledged the challenges in creating a fresh look while remaining faithful to the company’s current design language.

“We are evolving the next generation of XJ today, at the moment,” he told GoAuto at the Australian launch of the F-Pace SUV last week.

“And I do want it to be different. And we are looking at different ideas, but I still want people to recognise where it came from. It’s a hard one. It is easier to fix something that is broken, I will admit that. As long as people come with you. That is the difficult one.”

6 center imageLeft: Jaguar design director Ian Callum.When asked if the XJ was a difficult model to justify given the low volumes, Mr Callum said it was an important model for Jaguar as it helps build the strength of the brand.

“At its peak it was selling 22,000 units a year or so. I think it’s about 15 (thousand) or so now. But yeah, we can still make a business case out of it.

But it’s about brand building. And also you have got to wonder what the car should be and I won’t go into that because we will get into a big debate… but you need an XJ definitely. You need it for the brand.”

Mr Callum said the brand was committed to building a new XJ as a sedan, but added that he and his design team will ensure that it has a point of difference from other models in the premium upper-large sedan segment.

“I think the question is what should it be. And it is not a truck. People say ‘why don’t you just do another SUV, it would sell?’ Sure it would but it is not right for the brand. We will do another XJ. We have just got to make sure we do something that is a Jaguar and not just a copy lookalike of F-segment (large) cars. That’s what I try and avoid. I think the balance we have got with the car at the moment is quite good, I think we just need to take it to another level.”

While the XE and XF sedans and the just-launched F-Pace SUV are all based on the same aluminium architecture, Mr Callum said basing the next-gen XJ on that platform could prove difficult.

“You can only take one platform so far. We have got to work through that one.

It is tricky. It will be a mixture of a few things.”

The existing XJ is priced from $201,900 plus on-road costs for the range-opening short-wheelbase Premium Luxury, before topping out with the 5.0-litre V8-powered SWB XJ R and the LWB Autobiography both from $300,275.

Timing for the next-generation XJ is unclear, although given that the current one launched in 2010, it is likely to arrive in 2018 or 2019.

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