It’s 20 years since the first proposal was made for a Jaguar SUV.
Under Ford ownership and with the SUV market exploding in the US, it was suggested that a Jaguar version of the Ford Explorer might be a good and potentially profitable idea.
Once it was leaked in the British press, the idea was quickly canned. Indeed, it would have been hard to imagine a company then making XJ saloons and XJS GTs suddenly building a car based on a ladder-frame chassis and underpinned by crude suspension.
What was obviously a bad idea two decades ago is now something that Jaguar cannot ignore. It is no longer possible to argue that Jaguar can only build certain types of car, especially when it is still a global minnow and needs all the volume it can get.
Audi’s Q5 alone sold 183,600 units globally last year — two and a half times Jaguar’s 70,000-unit total output. BMW sold 149,000 X3s and the Porsche Cayenne sold 62,000 units. All of these are premium models that sell at higher prices and with good profit margins. No car maker can ignore the huge rise of the SUV.
Jaguar is also keen to change its image, which is still trapped between the golf club in the UK and the country club in the US. Although the hard-edged F-type will shake off the cobwebs, what better than a sporty, technically advanced crossover that will both appeal to affluent families and finally smash the Jaguar mould?