The purists may hate the thought of it, but in this global economic environment a luxurious crossover looks to be a necessity if Jaguar hopes to remain viable in the future. Not only are the high-riding models crucial for gaining a foothold in emerging markets such as Russia, India and China, where poor road conditions can be a pain for drivers of low slung sports cars and sedans, but the additional sales are necessary to justify the development costs of the automaker’s next-generation modular platform.
We already know Jaguar is planning a bespoke new plug-in hybrid supercar based on the stunning C-X75, as well as the respective replacements for the XF and XK, both of which will share a modified version of the aluminum platform underpinning the XJ flagship sedan.
However, Jaguar is also thought to be preparing a smaller rear-wheel drive platform, also made of lightweight aluminum, for a series of models positioned below the XF. It appears the XJ’s platform, pictured below, is simply too large to accommodate these smaller models.
One of these will be a new sports car rumored to be called the XE and targeted directly at the likes of the Porsche Boxster, BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLK. There will also be a new sedan model, a spiritual successor to the defunct X-Type and targeted once again at the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
2011 Jaguar XJ
But these two models won’t be enough to justify the development cost of their new aluminum rear-wheel drive platform, so that’s where the Jaguar crossover steps in. Together, the three new models could help Jaguar lift its annual sales from current levels of about 50,000 to more than 200,000 vehicles.
Expected to debut in 2015, the new Jaguar crossover will be the only one of its kind being kitted with a full aluminum body. This could potentially save between 440 and 660 pounds from the crossover’s curb weight if it was made from conventional steel construction like most of its rivals.
Also adding to its uniqueness will be its all-wheel drive system, which once again is being developed in-house by Jaguar, initially for the XJ flagship but eventually other models in the lineup including the crossover.
Design work will be handled by Ian Callum, the same creative genius behind the original C-XF concept car and the production XF, as well as the new XJ and C-X75 supercar. And under the hood should be range of gasoline and diesel powertrains, including a hybrid option, as well as an eight-speed automatic transmission.
It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago Jaguar was on the verge of bankruptcy and was losing hundreds of millions of dollars per year. It’s impressive to see what’s possible when a company is taken over by a parent with deep pockets.