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Premium C-segment battle looms for Jaguar

Fight club: The Germans will have to contend with a British onslaught in the shape of Jaguar’s XE come August.

Jaguar’s new small sedan set to drop into toughest battle pack in Australia

10 Apr 2015

THE spreadsheet generators are working overtime as Jaguar Land Rover Australia prepares the way for its new C-segment sedan, the XE due here in August.

JLR Australia managing director Matthew Wiesner is under no illusions that the company needs to be very clever with its pricing structures to gain traction in the intense three-way battle between the established combatants.

“It is bloody competitive,” he said. “You’ve got BMW with 3 Series, Mercedes with C-Class and Audi with A4 (going) at each other at an extraordinary rate. We haven't, and we won't until the absolute last minute, announce anything to do with pricing or anything, because we're already up to about plan D.

“That's got nothing to do with us. It's all about what they are doing to out-position each other.” He acknowledged in particular the success of the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which finished an extraordinary second in its category in March with 918 sales, behind the Toyota Camry (2319) and ahead of more affordable cars like the Subaru Liberty (425) and Mazda6 (545).

“Benz have come in with that C-Class, and they've done an outstanding job, it’s extraordinary,” he said. “The value for money in that segment is just outstanding. You look at the product on offer, the specification that is being offered from a base-car perspective at those price points. It's just an outstanding segment of value.

“We're probably about to launch our newest Jaguar into the toughest segment in the country.” Mr Wiesner is confident that the product is strong enough to earn its place in the market “It's a gorgeous car, absolutely,” he said. “Everybody's that’s touched it, the guys that have driven the pre-production cars ... We are absolutely looking forward to it because it does a lot obviously about bringing so many more people into that Jaguar space that would otherwise never have ever been there, based on our offerings today.” Mr Wiesner said the XE will benefit from the halo effect of models such as the F-Type sportscar, which will underline the potential ability of the small sedan, as well serving to separate Jaguar more distinctly from its stablemate, Range Rover.

“I think one of the key points that we and the UK are now making of what Jaguar stands for is that Jaguar is very much a driver's car, and XE portrays that in basically every facet. That's important,” he said. “I think we're now clear on what Jaguar's role is within the (Jaguar Land Rover) group.

“From all accounts from a driving perspective, from a styling perspective we've certainly hit those points pretty well.” Mr Wiesner said the XE has the potential to wrest customers away from ‘rusted- on’ buyers of other marques, and that the market will respond positively to a new entrant in the category.

“Quite a few people have bought and re-bought and re-bought in that segment. There's a lot of people in there who’ve bought three or four or five 3 Series or A4s or C-Classes or whatever it might be.

“There have been some good offerings around the place, but it's been so German dominated of late. There are definitely some people that are looking forward to having a choice outside of what's ultimately been a German-dominated segment.” The XE could even mimic the car that essentially pioneered the luxury compact sedan segment, the BMW 3 Series, in Mr Wiesner’s view.

“Quite frankly, we now have an opportunity to throw a spoiler in there with XE and really get stuck into those that really like to drive a proper sports sedan. That's what XE's all about,” he said “There's also going to be fair bit of goodwill that'll also come through around the British brand, which is great. We'll take that, absolutely.”

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