I thought Jaguar’s decision to run a disguised F-type at the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed was an excellent PR decision. Actually, keeping it inside a 20ft steel container in the paddock, protected by a couple of burly blokes, was an even better idea.
The whole set-up was reminiscent of London’s ritziest shops, which are protected by security guards, leaving passers-by to gawp at the contents of the window display from a safe distance. The F-type hasn’t just been designed to provide Jaguar with a halo model; it is also intended to make potential buyers think again about the brand.
Jaguar has been building sharp-handling cars for many years. Trouble is, the average premium car buyer doesn’t think of Jaguar in those terms. Apparently, company research has found that Jaguar is still associated with high price tags and V8 engines. BMW 3-series and 5-series buyers should really be trying the XF for size, but they’re refusing to do so in any significant numbers.
The F-type, which will be tuned as a serious driver’s car, is designed to shock Jaguar out of its gin-and-Jag, American country club image and into a younger, more sassy and metropolitan vibe. Much easier said than done, clearly.
One of the prime movers behind the F-type is Jaguar brand boss Adrian Hallmark, who has form in the reputation management area. Hallmark was the boss at Porsche UK when the 1980s boom ended with a crash and Porsche sales collapsed. Back then, the cliche of the city boy with his red braces and whale-tailed red 911 became the pin-up of recessionary hate (sound familiar?), leaving Porsche’s image in shreds.