Jaguar Thinks There’s Still Life in Saloons and Sports Cars and Won’t Give Into the SUV Craze
It’s an inspired move from the Big Cat. Let’s hope it works out.by Kirby Garlitos, on
As the auto world ditches sedans and sports cars and turns its collective attention towards crossovers and SUVs, Jaguar isn’t turning its back on its bread and butter. The British automaker has jumped into the SUV market, but it will also continue to develop and create saloons and sports cars. Jaguar design chief Julian Thomson made that emphatically clear, saying that non-SUVs — as they’re called now — remain important markets for the company. Rest easy now, fans of the XJ, XE, and XF. All three models are here to stay. They might come in different forms soon — hello, all-electric XJ! — but the nameplates will remain part of Jaguar’s model portfolio in the foreseeable future.
It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Jaguar is keeping its saloon and sports car lineups intact even if other automakers have shifted their focus on developing and building as many crossovers and SUVs as their consumer base can handle. Ford is one of those companies, though you can argue that the two automakers don’t occupy the same space in the auto industry. Jaguar isn’t as big as Ford, and it also doesn’t have as many models as the company that, ironically, once owned the British automaker.
You can point to that as one reason why Jaguar remains committed to building sports cars and saloons even if sales in those departments have stalled in recent years. According to Jag’s new design boss Julian Thomson, ditching these models isn’t as easy for Jaguar as some people make it out to be. “Cars are an important market to us,” Thomson told Autocar at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. “We now have lots of competent SUVs in our showroom but we need to satisfy all customers with different powertrain and body choices.”
That’s the position Jaguar is in.
Even if its lineup of SUVs — F-Pace, E-Pace, and I-Pace — has returned strong sales figures since their respective releases, the British automaker can’t just keep adding more crossovers and SUVs in its lineup.
Variety matters for a company like Jaguar, especially since it made its name on the back of some of the finest executive and luxury models the industry has ever seen. There’s a reason why Jaguar is what it is. The F-Pace didn’t build the Jaguar name. The E-Pace and I-Pace didn’t do it either. The Jaguar XJ did, as did the XE and the XF.
Perhaps it’s not the smart thing to do. There’s weight behind that argument. If crossovers and SUVs are thriving and sedans and sports cars are struggling, the sound business move would be to milk the former, even if it comes at the expense of the latter. But Jaguar can’t afford to do that. “It’s more challenging to do standout products in that market but Jags need to be different and new,” Thomson added. “The world’s not all turning SUV and we will need cars. I believe that.”
The growing popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles can be seen as a lifeline of sorts for these models. A lot of automakers, including Jaguar, have developed hybrid and/or electric sedans as a way to keep these nameplates going without having to dip into the same tired formula that got the segment in trouble in the first place.
Jaguar is aware of this, which is why it has invested heavily in the development of the all-new, all-electric Jaguar XJ. It’s not a happy accident that the new XJ was teased during the debut of the Land Rover Defender in Frankfurt. Jaguar has incredibly high hopes and expectations for the all-electric XJ.
Meanwhile, current versions of the Jaguar XE and XF will continue to be sold in global markets.
The current-generation X260 XF has four years under its belt, but expect it to stick around for a couple of years until Jaguar has a proper replacement in the works.
Don’t be surprised if the XF follows in the same path as its big brother and receives the all-electric treatment as well.
It’s the same story with the Jaguar XE. Like the X260 XF, the current-generation X760 XE arrived in 2015 and is expected to remain in the market until a suitable successor comes into the fold. And yes, expect an all-electric XE to arrive sometime in the future, too. That’s where the market’s heading, and if Jaguar wants to keep the pace — no pun intended — electrifying its entire sedan lineup is the way to go.
Now, what about the Jaguar F-Type? With the coming arrival of the next-generation, all-electric XJ, the F-Type is suddenly thrust into the elder statesman role among Jag’s current lineup. The current-generation X152 F-Type has been around since 2013, and while it has spawned faster and more powerful versions over the years — not to mention a slew of special edition models — there will come a point in the near future where a second-generation model becomes an absolute necessity.
Fortunately for fans of the F-Type, updates to the sports car are expected to arrive in the coming months.
More importantly, the F-Type will also continue past the first- and current-generation model, even if Jaguar isn’t sure about going all-electric with the model. “With sports cars, you’ve got to have them,” Thomson said. “They’re flag-waving for a premium brand and the dream still exists for people. Whether or not they’ll go electric, the jury is still out.”
Read our full review on the 2017 Jaguar XJ.
Read our full review on the 2017 Jaguar XF.
Read our full review on the 2020 Jaguar XE.