Currently reading: Jag's 3-series rival uncovered
Firm also planning to launch a new 4x4 crossover by the middle of the decade

Jaguar plans to launch an upmarket 3-series saloon rival and a radical, sporty 4x4 crossover by the middle of this decade.

The two new £40k models, being planned under project codename X760, will join with the new XE sports car to help lift Jaguar’s sales volume closer to 100,000 units per year, the company’s medium-term strategic goal.

Jaguar had a good year in 2010, boosting sales by a couple of thousand units to around 52,000. But the number is comparatively tiny and strong growth is vital to ensure future profits and satisfy owner Tata, which is investing heavily in Jaguar Land Rover.

See Autocar's renderings of Jaguar's small saloon and crossover

Porsche, whose success has to some extent guided Jaguar’s strategic target, added around 20,000 units last year and is already heading back to over 100,000 units, its peak in 2007.

Success in China and the US will dictate whether Jag can hit its target, which is partly why it will break out of its brand straitjacket to launch a soft-roader in late 2014.

Sports saloon in 2014Jaguar has been considering a return to the vital ‘executive saloon’ segment with a premium-priced, high-quality, front-engined, rear-drive small car for well over 18 months.

Since being first proposed as a new entry-level Jag, project X760 has evolved from a radical hatch into a family of two cars — saloon and soft-roader — that could hike Jag’s volume by up to 40,000 units a year.

Jaguar came to the conclusion that the five-door hatch couldn’t guarantee sufficient sales and experienced new management, in the form of new boss Carl-Peter Forster, Ralf Speth and Adrian Hallmark, has crystallised the plan for a more conventional four-door, three-box design. “Saloons are where the meat in the market is,” one insider told Autocar.

Jaguar: the next 12 years

Just like the mooted five-door hatch, the X760 saloon won’t be cheap. Its entry point will be around £40k at today’s prices, but it will be high in quality, handsome looking, fine driving and more frugal than any previous Jag. That’s largely thanks to its new aluminium monocoque, known internally as the RD7 platform.

RD7 is the next-generation pressed-alloy, riveted monocoque platform, freshly engineered for the next Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, and also known as the Premium Lightweight Architecture (PLA).

The smaller saloon will have its own version of the platform structure and upper body, but the manufacturing and basic design methods will be common. The shared parts will include electrical modules, axles and air-con units.

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RD7 will eventually underpin the replacement for the XF (due around 2015) and XJ (2018). Much of the thinking for this was done by senior engineer Mick Mohan, now boss of JCB, whose job was to streamline JLR’s complex platform set-up.

See Autocar's renderings of Jaguar small saloon and crossover

Although the X760 saloon will be Jaguar’s ‘entry-level’ car, it won’t be especially small. Its dimensions will be nudging 4.8m — the size of the just-replaced BMW 5-series. But by the same time, of course, its main competitor — the new F11 BMW 3-series — will have grown to a comparable size. However, the Jag’s alloy bodyshell should ensure a kerb weight of around 1300kg, at least 100kg lighter than the main competition.

Powertrains for the X760 will be a departure for Jaguar, majoring on four-cylinder petrols and diesels to reduce fuel consumption and CO2. By the time that the X760 is on sale, Jag’s fleet average CO2 output will have to be nudging towards 140g/km and the EU is already talking about a further 40g/km-plus reduction by 2020 or earlier.

For Europe, the main engine will be a version of the 2.2-litre diesel developed for the Range Rover Evoque. With outputs spanning 150bhp to over 200bhp, it should offer refinement, performance and economy.

Jaguar is understood to be ‘package protecting’ the engine bay of the X760 to accommodate a V6 diesel, but it has yet to give this variant internal approval.

In petrol engine markets the core engines will be variants of the 1.6 and 2.0-litre Ford Ecoboost soft turbos, again with power ranging from 150bhp to over 200bhp.

To get low CO2 figures, Jag will have to offer the X760 with a manual transmission and stop-start, but an automatic will also be essential. Engineers are understood to be evaluating both the ZF eight-speeder, also now available with stop-start, and Getrag’s dual-clutch transmission, badged ‘Powershift’ by Ford.

Style-led crossoverThis is the real departure for Jaguar, but the reality is that it cannot ignore the growing soft-roader market. Audi, for example, cannot make enough Q5s to satisfy demand of over 150,000 cars a year globally, and Volvo has had a smash hit with the XC60, now selling around 75,000 a year.

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Enthusiasm for the soft-roader is very high from Jaguar’s division in the US, where the model is seen as vital to boost sales in the north-eastern snow belt. This ought to be Jaguar’s sales homeland, but two-wheel-drive luxury saloons are being undermined there by the growing popularity of luxury crossovers.

As a result, Jaguar is looking to sister company Range Rover for the running gear of the X760 crossover. Based on the PLA alloy underbody, the X760 has space for a front diff and ‘quill’ shaft to provide drive to the front wheels.

Jaguar: the next 12 years

Because the PLA is being developed from the ground up, Autocar understands that the new running gear — such as the power take-off from the ZF auto gearbox and the centre diff — is packaged more efficiently to keep the overall height of the Jaguar 4x4 low.

To keep sufficient marketing space between the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, Jaguar is creating a style-focused 4x4. One source compares the new model to the Infiniti FX.

Space will open up in the JLR range for the X760 because the next-gen Range Rover Sport will come with a five-plus-two seating arrangement as standard for the first time. So the X760 will be expected to appeal to some of the Range Rover Sport’s buyers, particularly urban drivers looking for a less overt but still-stylish 4x4 with lots of British luxury.

As a result, the new Jag 4x4 will have a compact, four-seat cabin set well back to give it a sporty, long-bonnet proportion to the styling.

The ground clearance will be higher than a conventional saloon’s but not as lofty as a Range Rover’s, and the seating position will be more relaxed, with a sports saloon feel rather than an upright set-up used for maximum off-road visibility. The cockpit will cocoon the driver more like a coupé’s than a utility vehicle’s. Similarly, the four-wheel drive system will be focused on road ability and safe, secure handling in wet and snowy conditions.

The cabin will aim to bring the style of the XF’s and XJ’s to the crossover market, giving the X760 a strong identity. Powertrains will be drawn from the X760 component set, which means the 2.2-litre turbodiesel and Ecoboost soft-turbo 1.6 and 2.0 petrols.

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