Plans to relaunch the Jaguar XK are gathering momentum, with the firm’s head of product strategy confirming that it is working on a proposal for a whole family of sports cars.
Hanno Kirner, who oversees product strategy for the next decade at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), told Autocar the company remains committed to the sports car segment, despite the Jaguar E-Pace and F-Pace SUVs dominating the firm’s sales. In 2017, the F-Pace accounted for two-fifths of all Jaguar sales. The XK was discontinued in 2014.
“The F-Type has been a huge success,” he said. “We love sports cars – and I use the plural quite deliberately. Whether that is delivered by a body variant or something else remains to be seen, but for now let’s just say that the body type is very important for us.”
Kirner’s comments echo those of Jaguar’s head of design, Ian Callum, who has often spoken of his personal desire to develop a family of sports cars. Last year, Callum hinted that work on a re-envisaged XK had begun when he told Autocar: “I want a two-seater [the F-Type] and a 2+2. We’re working on something now. There’s nothing approved, but we instigate in design.”
It is believed that Callum’s team completed a design concept for an XK replacement prior to the second-generation model being axed. However, the latest project is believed to be entirely new and unlikely to be launched until at least 2021.
Both Kirner’s longer-term planning role and his comments suggest the creation of a new sports car family is dependent on JLR’s next-generation platform strategy. Today’s F-Type is based on a heavily modified version of the discontinued XK’s platform and is due for replacement in around 2019. The new F-Type is expected to use a development of that architecture, which is believed to be flexible enough to be adapted back to a 2+2 layout.
“I love the idea of a flexible architecture that can give us anything,” said Kirner.
Kirner also talked up the possibility of developing future platforms to be flexible enough to accept multiple powertrain types. However, it isn’t clear if this would apply to next-gen sports cars, because it is not certain if even the latest modified underpinnings could be adapted for a plug-in hybrid powertrain’s ancillaries.
“There is an argument that says hybrid sports cars might cater for both the environment and the excitement such cars deliver,” he said. “A lot of people like the sound of an engine. That’s a fact, and it is a defining part of a sports car. “I absolutely believe that there will be electric sports cars one day, but I also believe there may be a different step of combining the battery and an engine. At Jaguar, all I can say for now is that we will continue to invest in sports cars.”