Jaguar is set to enter the profitable but hyper-competitive compact executive market by 2015, according to its new company global brand director, Adrian Hallmark.
It’s likely that the new model range will kick off with a Boxster-rivaling roadster, inevitably raising comparisons with the legendary E-Type. According to Hallmark, Jaguar has decided that it needs, initially, at least, a small sports car for reasons of "image" and a saloon for reasons of "volume".
Talking to industry website Automotive News Europe, Hallmark said that Jaguar needed smaller models at a lower price point. "We need to play in that world," he said, referring to the BMW 3-series and Audi A4. He added that should Jaguar give the new model line the green light, the aim would be to produce "elegant cars with great technology…and a sense of occasion that positions us above the competition".
Hallmark revealed that the car maker was "at the beginning of the [development] process" which means the first model in the series will probably not arrive in the showrooms until the summer of 2015. Autocar understands that the new cars will be rear-wheel drive, using similar running gear and suspension systems to the XF and XJ and be based on a new platform.
One of the big engineering debates will be the extent to which the new platform will be built of aluminium. At this price point, it’s more likely that the new compact Jaguar platform will be a mix of steel and aluminium, though it could still be bonded and riveted together like the XJ structure.
The bulk of Jaguar Land Rover production is set to move to Solihull, so bosses are trying to harmonise the construction methods and technology of the Land Rover and Jaguar ranges as far as possible. For example, the next generation Range Rover models will share the basic aluminium floor structure, running gear and electrical architecture with the current Jaguar XJ. Both models will have bodies made of pressed, riveted and bonded aluminium.
In his comments, Hallmark admitted that Jaguar was keen not to repeat the mistakes it made with the launch of the Jaguar X-Type, which was substantially based on the front-drive Ford Mondeo. Hallmark said Jaguar didn’t want to find itself again fighting in the fleet market "with little engines, small wheels and a 25 per cent discount.".