Behind the understated British elegance, this ‘small’ Jaguar aims to emulate (and challenge) the most sporty mid-size German sedan. With over 300 horsepower, we can expect to see it in 2015.
The Jaguar X-Type is the entry-level car with which the British brand, back when it was under the Ford umbrella, aimed to amplify its sales volume in the early 2000’s. Much has been said, and written about, the X-Type. The underlying complaint was that there was too little Jaguar and too much Ford, which was true to a certain extent. Hardly anyone would still be scandalized by the move to ‘bastardize’ the blood of the reputed British carmaker with diesel engines, which had always been gasoline through-and-through.
The fact is that, within Jaguar’s entourage, many are starting to feel the X-Type’s absence. Or rather, they realize the void its exit left in the model line-up. For a model whose numbers were below expectations, it can’t be called a reincarnation. It was supposed to generate around 100,000 units a year, but it never surpassed 50,000 – in the end totalling, for its entire lifespan, fewer than 350,000 units. What is certain, however, is that the X-Type will have a successor, regardless of how much the people in Coventry would like to deny a direct lineage. It’s better to say that there is a nearly finished model, which, while waiting for further development, will be the entrance ticket to the Jaguar world.
It is to be noted that with the XS (the final nomenclature might change), the new compact car will have a dual nature. Beneath whispered British elegance, it’ll exhibit a temperament that will be closer to the sportiness of the 3 Series. Also, as opposed to its predecessor, it’ll be a proper Jaguar – daughter of the XF, which was able to re-launch the brand successfully.
Stylistically, in fact, the future XS inserts itself in the same vein – full volume, clean contours, thinned headlights. The window line descends smoothly towards the rear, but the roof should be higher than the XF’s in order to assure better headroom for the rear passengers. The family resemblance with the rest of the Jaguar family is a must in order to challenge the dominant Germans in an original manner – from the aforementioned BMW 3 Series to the Audi A4, which will be revamped next year.
The lightness of aluminium
From a technical point of view, the distinction lies in the aluminium construction of the body, a virtue that none of its future rivals, even those using alloy parts, can match. The XS, in that sense, will be state-of-the-art, even in its own family. In fact, while design terms it can be considered the daughter of the XF, on the technical side it should be considered its mother (obviously of the next generation). In fact, the so-called PLA, or Premium Lightweight Architecture – the same that, with the appropriate changes, has just debuted under the skin of Range Rover and Range Rover Sport – constitutes the base on which the new XF and XJ will be born. This is thanks to its flexibility, which makes it possible to obtain 90% of the production from the same set of modular components, therefore more easily exploiting the capacity of the factory at Castle Bromwich.
Among the engines, there’s the new 240bhp 2.0 litre engine, which is already fitted in the entry-level XF. At the top of the range, we could see the 3.0 V6, which on the XF generates 340bhp, while the diesel engines would centrally be based around the 2.2 litre 4 cylinder.
To reduce consumption and emissions, there will be the probable fitment of the 9-speed automatic transmission, which will debut soon on the Range Rover Evoque. A hybrid variant is equally likely. The driveline? Rear-wheel drive, with independent wishbone suspension. However, an all-wheel drive version is pretty much certain to follow.
At Coventry, though, they prefer to keep their feet on the ground. They know that the mid-sized premium sedan sector is promising, but also very competitive. “It took Audi 20 years to reach where it is. For us to just come in and reach the top of the standings would be impossible. We need to offer a product that has a certain sense of originality,” said Adrian Hallmark, general manager of the brand, to the British press. It’s still too early to predict which roads Jaguar will take to find it. Surely the XS line will not exhaust itself with the sedan version only. “All the designers in the segment follow a strategy of diversifying the body types – coupe, convertible, station wagon. The flexibility is indispensable.”
Will the XS constitute the lower class of the brand’s development strategy? We asked Ian Callum, head of design. In response he left open all the possibilities. “Personally, I don’t see anything scandalous about a small Jaguar. Mini has taught everyone that the concept of premium is not a question of size”.
2008 YESTERDAY’S RANGE
When Ford, in the spring of 2008, sold Jaguar (along with Land Rover) to Tata Motors, the range featured six models. One of them was the X-Type, which was phased out the following year
Launched in 2001 with the ambition (partly unfulfilled) of multiplying sales volume
The station wagon variant came out in 2003, featuring a diesel engine – a scandal at the time for the purists of the brand
The best of Ford’s legacy went on sale in 2008, replacing the S-Type, and laying the groundwork for the brands revival
Traditional design, but with an entirely new aluminium body – a Jaguar ‘classic’
Another fruit of Ford’s investment. In 2005, with an aluminium body, it replaced the XK8
The convertible version arrived in 2006. In the same year, the XKR also debuted (416bhp)
…& Tomorrow’s Range 2015
There are presently six models on sale, like in 2008, with the most recent arrivals being the XF Sportbrake and the F-Type, which, from 2014, will be joined by the coupe. In 2015, it’ll be the turn of the XS
XS (provisional designation)
Will constitute the entry-level model. Initially a sedan, it’ll be followed by an estate variant
The sedan, born under Ford, received improvements in 2009 and a restyling last year
In 2012, the station wagon was added to the range. It has the same engines as the sedan
Refreshed in 2009, today the flagship car (as with the XF) can be had with all-wheel drive
With V6 and V8 petrol engines, it competes with Porsches. Inspired by the ‘60s E-Type
The hardtop version will hit dealerships next spring
The XKR-S is the most recent variant of an end-of-career model
The convertible could be launched in a new avatar, like the coupe, in 2015
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