This year’s Frankfurt Motor Show looks like it’s going to be a hum-dinger for all those who love the thrill of the unveiling of new metal. We’ve already been teased a bevvy of new models, although one which we won’t be seeing, but know is now well on its way to production is the upcoming Jaguar crossover. The sporting off-roader,which is conceptually similar to the Infiniti FX or BMW X6, but rather smaller, being based on JLR’s Compact PLA architecture, will be an entirely new departure for one of the UK’s most iconic car companies.
I can guarantee that the feedback to the news that this car is coming – which has hardly been a secret for some time now – will be peppered with lots of ‘that’s not a Jaguar – William Lyons would turn in his grave – why build something that Land Rover already does rather well‘ comments. That’s because Jaguar is one of those emotive marques that means something to just about everyone and generally different people have different ideas about Jaguar.
There are the traditionalists, who think the E-type will never be topped; there are the gaffers who love smoking round in their £1500 X308s; there are the golfers, who wear funny jumpers and judge their XF Sportbrakes on how many clubs will fit in the boot; and there are they aestheticians, who can’t do without the humped haunches on their leaping cats. Brits love Progressive Jaguars, Europeans and Americans need a clubby wood ‘n’ leather ambiance; and everyone else just wants to see elegance in abundance.
The trouble is that no one’s going out of their way to ask for an SUV-flavoured Jaguar. So surely it’s madness for the company to build this car? Not really… Unlike the Land Rover part of the JLR grouping, Jaguar needs to sell more cars. The XF is doing okay, as is the XJ and XK, but none are selling in anywhere near the numbers of their German rivals. The company’s image is all over the place – and, although the new F-Type will give it a shot in the arm, it’s not going to sell in volume – especially as it appears to be £15-20K overpriced.
So that leaves new models. The conventional wisdom is that Jaguar needs its 3 Series rival. Be under no illusions – that’s also on its way, and if it goes to plan, this stylish hatchback won’t sport a conventional three-box body like its rivals (why not?) and certainly won’t be wearing a Rover badge, no matter how appealing an idea that may seem. A 3 Series rival would bring volume and it would help justify the massive investment currently being ploughed into the upcoming Hotfire engine and Wolverhampton factory.
Why favour the SUV, then? In global terms, these cars are hot property and growing markets, such as China and India, can’t get enough of them. Past glories such as the D- and E-type have less resonance with the new world than the do the old and, as such, there’s less baggage for the SUV to overcome in these markets. Finally – most importantly – people want SUVs. Highly specified, high profit, poor value for money SUVs. So give them what they want. Because for goodness’ sake – we really do want a profitable Jaguar as well as Land Rover.
That’s why a Jaguar SUV is going to happen. And it is going to be a truly sporting crossover. Get used to it…
However, I haven’t given hope on my revived Rover dream. Land and Range Rover might be doing well right now but, if there’s a four-wheel drive backlash in the coming years, it would do no harm to be offering something a little lower, a little more useful, a lot more efficient and a tad more two-wheel drive. Imagine, if you will, a range of luxury hold-alls based on the Evoque, Sport and Range Rover – what would you call them? Why, Rovers, of course…