July 12, 2016
After the arrival of the well-accepted and lovely mid-sized XF sedan, sumptuous and coddling XJ sedan and dynamic F-Type coupe and convertible (the first real high performance Jaguar sports car since the E-Type) there were lots of rumors about just what Jaguar would be coming up with to breach the 15,000 cars per year level that was leaving them the status of also ran.
There was also the issue that any company faces today in terms of reaching out beyond your current market to new customers who have the means and the interest to consider your product. No mean feat in a time of declining network television audiences, disappearing print media and highly questionable online advertising. The fact is that it takes a lot of work to come up with thoughtful approaches to the issue.
This is critical for Jaguar, going from a three car line up to a five vehicle line up that now includes all new, from the ground up, XE compact sports sedan and F-Pace SUV. Jaguar chose to launch the new models on a market by market basis. Tying in with popular local charity events, historical air force based locations where Jaguars won some of the very earliest SCCA racing events and for this author at Cole European an old-line Jaguar dealer that had been preceding at the location by Coventry Motors, the leading dealer Cobra and hot car dealer of it’s day. Over sixty years of British Sports Car and Racing History in the same location.
The F-Pace continues Ian Callum’s shift away from the tired ideas that were made for lovely Jaguars in the 1960s but led to a series of vehicles clearly identifiable as Jaguar, but not particularly forward thinking or appealing. Porsche fell into this trap and remains there. With virtually everything in the Porsche line up sporting the Teenage Ninja Turtle front clamshell, to appeal to the 911 purists, the balance of the vehicles leave a lot to be desired in terms of shape and proportion. Ian Callum has a deft touch and it shows with the F-Pace. It’s hard to explain the simple understated elegance of the F-Pace. It does not have the excess detail and sharp edges of many of the Asian SUVs, nor the bulbous –in-your-face grills and massive lane-hogging stature of far too many SUVs that are simply impossible to park, it just hits that middle size perfectly with crisp side lines, nicely sized windows and the nicest front and rear treatment in its class. Word on the street is that the V-6 is powerful, refined and efficient. After Volkswagen’s blistering failure with their “Clean Diesel” turbodiesel fiasco most automakers grew rather gun-shy about bringing true clean diesels to the American Market. Not so Jaguar. In a few months Jaguar will begin offering a 2.0 liter inline-four cylinder engine offering 180 horses and a whopping 318 pound feet of torque. Whopping amount of torque as in the new aluminum intensive chassis means that the F-Pace is lighter on its feet than most SUVs in its class by several hundred pounds so the power goes a lot further.
XE is a compact sports sedan and that is aimed squarely at the segment that BMW has owned with the 3 Series for several years. Starting at around $35,000 and rising to what appears to be a topping out at around $53,000 with ALL the options the XE looks like a baby brother to the F-Type series. Again, styling lines are simple and understated. There is more wood and chrome in the Audi, BMW and Mercedes rivals. But those competitors come with lots of added weight, laden with electronic gizmo-technology that keeps the wheels planted only to a point where simple physics can’t be masked. Word on the street is that the XE is a real driver’s car and a very satisfying one at that. Did this author mention that Jaguar now has an infotainment system that actually works and does not require a PhD in engineering to operate in a satisfying way?
After Ford spent literally billions of dollars pulling Jaguar up from the well-told depths of quality control the company was sold on to Ratan Tata, one of the biggest industrialists on modern India. Tata was jubilant in his purchase. Cerberus starved Chrysler until the Fiat merger, Bentley has shifted chassis to otherwise almost sale-proof Volkswagen units. BMW not only funded Rolls-Royce nicely but came in with engineering expertise that enhanced the brand. The last being the model that Ratan Tata followed. Add money, add expertise and otherwise leave Jaguar alone. Tata’s approach comes from his delight in the fact that India, the former colony now is the parent of an English Crown Jewel. Life goes on, but in this case, better.
Jaguar has upped the ante in the market by offering the industries best warranty package, Jaguar EliteCare, a 5 year 60,000 mile bumper to bumper program that includes 24/7 roadside assistance, free scheduled maintenance, and peace of mind. And if you like your technology, Jaguar’s new infotainment system is one that actually works! And, if you so inclined, you can use your Android or Apple Phone to lock/unlock doors, set the climate controls or start the engine for you. Yes, this system can speak with your Apple Watch, and for those less technically inclined there is an SOS Button located in the overhead console, press it and your location and ID will be automatically sent. This feature is automatically triggered if the air bags are set off by an accident.
Few have been behind the wheel of the XE or the F-Pace, reports on each are coming in slowly. The XE is a lovely little sedan that should really appeal to those who want a driver’s car that offers the driver the opportunity to arrive feeling refreshed and inspired after an escape or a commute. This is a tough market segment. That said, if buyers figure out what the F-Pace is then Jaguar dealers may have issues keeping this vehicle in stock. Jaguar has come a long way in the last few years, renaissance, yes, that is the word that fits best, nice work Jaguar.