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Rear-drive for Jaguar X-Type replacement

Mid-sized cat: Jaguar will replace its discontinued X-Type (seen left) to increase the brand's volume.

Jaguar product chief confirms rear-wheel drive X-Type successor

7 Jun 2011

JAGUAR is readying a replacement for its discontinued X-Type compact sedan and this time it will be rear-wheel drive.

Spurred on by more development funds from its Indian owner Tata Motors, the British luxury car-maker’s new model offensive will also include a wagon version of the XF, a new compact sportscar to challenge Porsche’s Cayman and Boxster, and the scintillating C-X75 hybrid supercar.

Jaguar is also considering an SUV and says an all-wheel drive crossover remains an option, but is not an immediate priority.

All the models are important to the premium marque that is re-establishing its brand identity, but a new rival for BMW’s volume-selling 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-class is crucial to its success.

Jaguar group engineering chief Bob Joyce told GoAuto that the new mid-size sedan is at the heart of Jaguar’s expansion plans.

“We have to build our volume,” he said. “We have to be in that segment.”

6 center imageLeft: Jaguar range from top: XK, CX-75, XF, XJ.

The original X-Type was launched in 2001, when Jaguar was part of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, and heavily based on the Mondeo to limit development costs.

Mr Joyce said the failure of that car, which was killed off in 2009, had been digested by Jaguar.

“We learned a massive lesson,” he said.

Criticism of the fact the X-Type was so closely related to a more affordable Ford product was common in the media when the car was launched, but Mr Joyce believes other issues affected its popularity.

“I think there was a lot of noise at the time about the X-Type being related to the Mondeo, but it also missed out on a lot of things. It was constrained by the fact that we didn’t have a diesel version in Europe and we didn’t have an estate,” he said.

“We had an all-wheel drive but that wasn’t as big a feature as it is now.” The original X-Type was released as an all-wheel drive, but a cut-price 2.1-litre front-drive version was introduced as Jaguar chased sales with a cheaper entry-level model.

Mr Joyce said the new model would be rear-drive “because that’s what we’re good at” but he wouldn’t discuss the potential availability of an all-wheel-drive version.

The retro styling of the original X-Type was also an issue and the design of most Jaguar models was inconsistent, he said.

Mr Joyce said the X-Type was a miniature version of the conservative S-Type large sedan, which was very different to the XK coupe/convertible.

“At that time we didn’t know what Jaguar was,” he said.

While the new model will take on some of Jaguar’s latest design themes as seen on the XK, XF, XJ and even the C-X75, it would not be a shrunken version of another car, Mr Joyce said.

“It wouldn’t copy another design but it would fit into the Jaguar family.” Developed with what Jaguar refers to as ‘duality’ in mind, the company says X-Type replacement will be sporty and refined.

This marketing term covers Jaguar’s idea of making cars that can be both exciting and comfortable to drive, with particular attention paid to developing suspension that delivers sharp handling as well as ride quality.

While Jaguar’s prestige competitors have introduced even smaller cars such as the BMW 1 Series, Mercedes-Benz, Audi A1 and Mercedes-Benz A-class, Jaguar says it is in no rush to bring out a similar model.

“We’re not going to go that low,” said Mr Joyce, who did not rule out a more compact Jaguar in several years time and said there could eventually be a role for a small and environmentally friendly city-car from Jaguar.

Meanwhile, the first public showing of Jaguar’s all-new compact sports coupe is expected to be at the Frankfurt motor show in September, with company executive telling GoAuto the born-again E-Type will be revealed “soon”.

The new sportscar will slot in beneath the grand touring XK two-door and is expected to be a more focused model aimed at younger customers, with a convertible version to follow.

Jaguar insiders say the company’s new model onslaught is being assisted by Tata Motors’ policy to re-invest much of its profits into development of new cars rather than simply diverting the money to other parts of its business.

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