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Jag shuns premium SUV trend

2010-10-12 06:47

KEEP IT REAL: Jaguar possesses one of the richest design bloodlines around. Future model expansion won’t include silly hatchbacks or SUVs.

Jaguar, despite its relatively small size, believes it can maintain its engineering independence and heritage.

The recent 2010 Paris auto show was a watershed event for the Tata-owned sibling brands Land Rover and Jaguar. Many pundits expected Jaguar to debut an XF coupe there but the designers and engineers at HQ in Coventry in the English Midlands stunned showgoers with a C-X75 turbine-hybrid concept.

Small - not stupid.

Does Jaguar have the resources to go it alone with a planned expansion of its road-going cars, though? Shared platforms and engines are an integral reality of the "economies of scale" that now pervade global automaking.

Despite this, Tata motors boss Carl-Peter Forster (formerly head of BMW SA) believes Jaguar can cope.

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Jaguar wants to build a 3 Series rival to afford younger buyers a less price-sensitive purchase entry to the brand. The company’s previous 3 Series rival, the X-type, was not particularly well received and Jaguar’s design team realises its new project must be a credible junior XF.

Ultimately, Jaguar’s recent ability to tweak its own platforms has greatly enhanced the brand’s image as a purveyor of dynamically harmonious cars, nearly faultlessly balancing performance with comfort.

Forster admitted that although Jaguar was investigating the feasibility of a large crossover-type car it would not build an SUV, thereby avoiding a clash with sibling brand Land Rover. The idea of a small hatchback to rival the Mercedes A-Class has also been shelved.

Jaguar boss Mike O'Driscoll will retire in March 2011. As the man who oversaw Jaguar's sale to Tata and the introduction of award-winning products such as the XF and the new XK, O'Driscoll will leave the company in outstanding shape for his successor to execute future plans - which include the vaunted sub-XF 3 Series rival and, it is hoped, a road-going version of the C-X75 supercar.

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