- Jaguar's priorities may have shifted as the automaker speeds up the development of a compact sedan said to compete with the BMW 3 Series.
- The small sport sedan has pushed a Jaguar SUV further down the priority list.
- The new small Jaguar sedan may be offered as a cabriolet, a coupe and, in some markets, a wagon.
LONDON — Jaguar is believed to have sped up the development of a compact sport sedan to compete with the BMW 3 Series.
A recent shift of ambitions has pushed an SUV that the company has also been developing further down the priority list. Jaguar is said to be convinced that it can win more sales in the larger premium compact segment than it can in the market for premium SUVs.
According to Britain's Autocar magazine, the new sedan will be rear-wheel drive — in contrast to the front- and four-wheel-drive X-Type that it previously and unsuccessfully offered in this segment — and will feature aluminum bodywork.
Word is that this new small Jaguar will also be offered as a cabriolet, a coupe and in some markets, a wagon. Although this lineup mirrors the BMW offering, insiders say that the company is aiming to give the new Jaguar an individual "twist" that will distinguish it from the BMW, the Mercedes C-Class and the Audi A4, this trio representing its most formidable opposition.
A source in Jaguar engineering has indicated to Edmunds that the company is also exploring the scope for deriving the car's platform from the same architecture as the new aluminum monocoque Range Rover. Unlikely as that sounds given their differences in length, height and mission, Jaguar Land Rover is not alone in developing modular architectures that will underpin models of quite different size and body style, as Volkswagen has done with its MQB platform.
Sharing core hardware like this should make the new sedan financially viable, besides improving the profitability of other models using this architecture, which will shortly include the new Range Rover Sport, the next LR3 and replacements for the XF and XJ sedans. Jaguar badly needs a higher-volume model to lift its global sales volume above the 50,000-odd that it currently achieves. That figure represents no more than niche production compared to its German and Asian competitors, and while Jaguar Land Rover in its entirety is currently very profitable, that success is largely being driven by the Land Rover side of the business.
While the imminent launch of the Jaguar F-Type sports car and the recent introduction of four-wheel-drive versions of the XF and XJ sedans should boost sales, they will not provide the necessary transformation to the company's prospects that a successful compact sport sedan would achieve.
Edmunds says: This is the car Jaguar needs to allow it to decisively break free of niche status. It will need to be excellent. If it fails, Jaguar's future could be called into question.