Give Us A Brake! – Jaguar Jettisons Its Baggage.

JLR appear to have hit on a genius plan to secure Jaguar’s future. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to involve making Jaguars. 

Here's what you can have - get 'em while they're hot, they're lovely. Image:designmagazin.cz
Here’s what you can have – get ’em while they’re hot, they’re lovely. Image:designmagazin.cz

Judging by the frequency he is hauled out to expound on matters of product, anyone would think Jaguar’s design chief was solely responsible for product planning. Perhaps it’s got something to do with his mellow Dumfries lilt, but nowadays its difficult to escape the suspicion JLR’s senior management wheel him out when they have unpalatable Jaguar-related news to deliver – and frankly, is there really any other kind?

An example of this being Callum’s recent announcement that JLR have no plans to replace the XK GT model, citing the fact that the F-Type now fulfills that role. Pragmatic, yes, but hardly news to bolster the morale of the marque faithful. It also glosses over the fact that a lot of current XK owners find the F-Type’s boorish nature doesn’t necessarily butter too many turnips, leaving them no choice but to look elsewhere. So that’s one sector of the market gone.

Last week, speaking at an event to promote the new F-Pace CUV, Callum closed the tailgate on the possibility of a new generation of Jaguar Estates, or Station Wagons to our US readers. Callum cited falling demand across Europe, a factor he told journalists, which has been exacerbated by the shocking realisation that German buyers predominantly buy German cars. What Callum is really saying is perhaps something more along the lines of; ‘our attempts at producing competitive Estate models have not been commercially successful and in a market that is clearly gravitating towards CUV’s we’ve elected to concentrate on those.’ Presto, another sector lost.

For people who like Estate cars, this is hardly what one would call heartening news; less choice can never be considered a good thing. It also begs the question – if Jaguar are not interested in producing estate versions of XE/XF, what alternative body styles are they intending to offer? Because as the all conquering Germans have established, choice = profit. It does tie in with something Callum said last year however. Speaking to Autocar, he suggested that in future, instead of diversifying within model ranges, Jaguar would create standalone models. However, with each fresh announcement from Jaguar’s styling chief, the possibilities narrow further.

Not for the likes of you. Bye bye Sportbrake. Image:autoweek.nl
Not for the likes of you lot. Adieu, Sportbrake. Image:autoweek.nl

Even the XJ saloon, now only selling in any reasonable volume in China, is said to have been given a stay of execution primarily because it’s viewed as a necessary halo model, not because JLR have any faith in recreating its lost appeal.

At present, JLR appear to be spending more time telling us what kind of Jaguars we can’t have than producing the sort of cars that might actually appeal to us. And if we take this logic to its natural conclusion, there’s really no point in Jaguar attempting to compete in any sector of the market – with one possible exception. Ian Callum told journalists earlier this week; “We will do things that will surprise you, but it won’t be wagons.” Tell you what would really surprise me Ian? If the next Jaguar wasn’t to be another sodding crossover.

Addendum: 

It now appears that the Automotive news piece quoting Jaguar’s Ian Callum may not have been entirely accurate. Yesterday, (April 26), Callum tweeted the following: “I have been misquoted in Automotive News regarding the future of Sportsbrake. I said there would be no XE Sportbrake. Nothing more!”

Make of this what you will.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founding Editor. Content Provider.

28 thoughts on “Give Us A Brake! – Jaguar Jettisons Its Baggage.”

  1. This matter brings up the tricky existential question in car manufacture. Do you carry on making the things you made all along or do you apply the manufacturing capability to something else on a pragmatic basis. In reality, the world isn´t a load of stark dichotomies but a set of choices in between. Jaguar plainly think that Jaguarness is an idea to be applied to whatever niches the market most want, assuming people want Jaguarness. The traditionalist in me would like more raffish saloons while the realist in me understands saloons are a declining market. I would expect Jaguar keeps some core saloons and also busies itself with Jaguared CUVs. Isn´t it odd that making an estate car version of their saloons is such a big deal. Most of the car is the same, isn´t it? I expect the accountants have gone over the numbers and found the extra sales don´t justify the outlay. And if we are being traditional, Jaguar only started making estates after the year 2000. So it´s not as if they are abandoning a core format.

  2. Is this Callum talking to impress outsiders, or to impress his bosses? With Tata pulling out of steel in the UK, Jaguar might feel that their parent company will ultimately tire of their long game. The need to be seen to be trimming costs might be crucial. It’s probably true that, at best, many estates just write off the cost of developing them. But their existence adds to the feeling of a rounded model range, which is a hard thing to put a value on.

    Personally, it rather turns me against the F (you) Pace if it has usurped the rather nice Sportbrake. I was only wondering a few days ago when the new version would be appearing, and now we know. Not that I can present myself as a typical punter in my scattergun car choices. “Hmm, if I decide to replace my Cube in a couple of years time, what shall I get? Suzuki Lapin Chocolat or an XFR Sportbrake?”

  3. The XF Sportbreak appears to be quite popular here in Germany, but as the Chinese and Americans probably wouldn’t want to be seen dead in one, there may not be a business case for it, after all. Which is a bit of a shame, as it was an attractive model.

    But if we get an XE coupé or that mooted four-door coupé XJ replacement instead, than I’m fine with that. And as the fact that Mercedes is finding it more difficult than ever before to sell its SL roadster cannot be entirely attributed to the car’s questionable styling, I assume that JLR wouldn’t want to invest in what appears (for the time being, at least) to be a dying breed.

    If all these decisions mean that Jaguar is finding itself in sound enough a financial situation to develop an all-new XK once coupés and convertibles are en vogue once again, I’m fine with that, too.

  4. My suspicion is that Tata is being forced to ask Jaguar to wait a while and see how the massive investment in the recently launched XE, XF, F-Pace and F-Type is paying back.

    Re the comment about “long game”, Tata can’t really be blamed for getting out of UK steel manufacturing given it was losing more than £1m a day, and China is effectively throttling everyone right now. No wonder Tata might be having to restrict its investment elsewhere. Having done a tour at Castle Bromwich recently, I can give witness to the astonishing benefit that its money has wrought.

  5. It’s a great shame. All of the F Pace reviews seem in broad agreement that it is a good car, if compromised. If it were a bit lighter and a bit lower, performance, efficiency and dynamics would all be improved. It might even look better. It would be an XF estate.

  6. Personally I would rather Jaguar concentrated on profitable models, rather than chasing the somewhat nebulous idea of what a Jaguar should be. The straight fact of the matter is that nobody buys wagons anymore, they buy CUVs. The press consensus seems to be that the F-Pace is one of the better entrants into this segment, so hopefully sales await. Regarding the XJ, the luxobarge market is pretty much sewn up by the S-Class, so why bother? As for the XK, the large coupe market doesn’t really exist now, and more to the point, has it ever?

    1. It used to be more about the combined large roadster & coupé market, which did exist, and in sizeable form too – despite their current success, Daimler executives would probably weep at the sight of the R107 SL’s adjusted-for-inflation revenues. These used to be very profitable cars indeed.

      But today’s costumer is after a feeling of maximum protection, rather than being being out in the open. Maybe an optional full-size headlining display, onto which surroundings and weather of one’s own choosing are being projected, is the answer to any al fresco motoring cravings in our day and age.

    2. Yes, the F-Pace may be one of the better CUVs, but obviously it’s still not as good as an estate could be – see Jacomo’s comment. But it seems Jaguar is economically right in giving the customers what they wish for. Or should I rather say “what they deserve”?

  7. It is easy to disparage CUVs; Lord knows I do. But they are popular for a reason: they are very capable at doing the kind of things people want cars to do. Most people just want to move people and stuff in a comfortable car that does not make them look like a complete prat. Whether they are the optimal solution to achieve all of those objectives is debatable, but they do achieve all of those objectives.

    1. The only time I felt like a prat in a car was when I was given a Range Rover as a courtesy car. Estates and Minivans can do all you described here, and with much more common sense and style.

    2. Not all of them are stylish, I agree. Neither are estates, SUVs or saloons…

      My comment was intended as a provocation, of course. But there is a truth behind it, and I don’t read style as only how luxurious or beautiful a car is. An SUV or CUV with its volume, big wheels and plastic applications always reminds me of people who use too much space and are inappropriately loud. And that’s about the opposite of style.

    3. Of course try are. CUVs are people who eat hot dogs and nachos in the cinema. You might be the one subjected to the stench of nacho cheese, the incessant mastication and the odd spattering, but hey, they’re having a great time!

  8. Chrisward: the Renault Espace and Lancia Phaedra were stylish MPVs and the Galaxy, S-Max and Zafira still are. And have you seen a top-spec Meriva? These are really nice, capable vehicles.

    1. Whilst the MPVs mentioned are undoubtedly good vehicles, not a single one of them is what anyone would term “the desireable choice”. People know that the styling of CUVs is all smoke and mirrors; most are spun off the same architecture as MPVs, with the ride height and belt line hoisted, and the A-pillar pulled back. But the styling queues of CUVs project an air of robust utility that people find more appealing than a mono-box MPV filled with seats and scratchy plastics, designed solely for the purpose of moving sticky children and their endless clobber. And that is the heart of the appeal of CUVs: they are touted as perfect for people with “active lifestyles”, but in reality they exist solely to give parents a desireable choice, when in reality they have none.

  9. Chris- have you been in an MPV in the last 18 years? The Zafira is top nice; the last Espace also had the same quality trim of the C-D class. Have you been in a Titanium-spec S-Max? These are pretty lush cars. I really liked the Zafira I tested: oodles of room and loads of toys.

  10. Yes, perception…
    Luckily, as a long-time Citroën owner I have learned not to rely on the perception of others. I even once considered an MPV although I don’t have sticky children (and no non-sticky ones, either). With estates, perceptions might differ anyway. Here, in German speaking regions, they have had the “active lifestyle” label for quite a while – at least the more fashionable ones from the “premium” brands.

  11. As an early adopter and evangelist for the MPV, I confirm that it was clear they were never going to be seen as sexy. But more than that. I once offered to loan my Espace to a business colleague for some family function of hers and she replied, with possibly a bit too much glee, thank you but her husband wouldn’t be seen dead in it. But he was a straightforward sort, happy with a plain estate car. So that suggests that the MPV is too different for conservative types and too dowdy for (in their view) hip types. I do agree that, however much we might be dubious about a Jaguar or Bentley SUV, an MPV would be beyond the pale.

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