Jaguar is making a herculean push to compete with the Germans for the luxury market, and – as it turns out – to survive.
We have already reported on Jaguar Land Rover’s plan to release four new models in the next five years, but the most important of these, the compact sedan known as the X760 and C-X16, is coming in 2015.
In an interview with Autocar, Jaguar Global Brand Director Adrian Hallmark said that it was critical that Jag “build the most advanced, most efficient, most refined car in that segment. Not almost as good as, but better than the best in the world.”
This isn’t just a matter of marketing speak either, because, according to a recently released report by Bernstein Research, an unnamed Jaguar Land Rover executive admitted being the best is “the only choice as Jaguar is not viable at 60,000 units [per year]. If the X760 fails, it will be probably be the end for the brand.”
This makes the X760 and its following variants a truly titanic moment – pun intended – for the future of British sports cars.
Fortunately all of the new Jag models – but especially the X760 – look promising. Built on the all-aluminum Premium Lightweight Architecture shared with Range Rover, the entry-level Jag promises to be light on its feet and aggressive through the corners.
Jag is also placing a renewed emphasis in technology, with hybrid drivetrains being optional on all of its forthcoming models. This promises solid efficiency and environmentalism, which could possibly be a standout quality against its luxury compact’s competition.
Hallmark also said that the new X760 will “be filled with the highest technology that anyone has ever brought to that segment.” Without specifics being released, it’s hard to say what that might be, but I am hoping for lasers and holograms.
They might just need those things because competition in the luxury market is incredibly fierce. The compact segment that Jag’s X760 is shooting for is currently dominated by the German ‘big three’: BMW, Audi, and Mercedes.
The BMW 3 Series, the Mercedes C-Class, and the Audi A4 currently make up 1.15-million of the 1.3-million small luxury cars annually sold. Jaguar, Cadillac, Acura, Lexus, Infiniti and a few others currently battle for the remaining 150,000 vehicles in the segment.
Jaguar’s cause for optimism comes not just from the potential quality of its new car but from brand recognition and the possibility that it may capture more sales as the market expands, especially in China.
Jag will also be able to capture additional profit by selling models based on the same platform. The new Range Rover Evoque XL will share the same platform and all-aluminum architecture as the X760. This may offer a crucial boost in sales volume and prestige in the rapidly expanding luxury CUV segment – even if any kind of Range Rover on a car platform is heresy.
Wagon and coupe variants of the X760 are also scheduled to appear before 2018, giving Jag every opportunity to claw back sales from the Germans.
The stakes are high in this latest Battle of Britain, with the fate of one of the most iconic automotive brands at issue. However, Jaguar is giving itself a fighting chance with what they hope will be a latter-day Spitfire.