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Jaguar to reinvent XJ

Old school: Despite a redesign in 2003, the current XJ still embodies Jaguar's old school tie approach to design.

Jaguar will take its new design creed further with the 2009 XJ luxury sedan

7 May 2008

JAGUAR will reveal its new XJ flagship in late 2009, with a likely reveal at the Frankfurt or Tokyo motor shows.

Company insiders have told GoAuto that the new XJ – codenamed X351 – will tackle the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes E-class and Lexus LS in Europe from early 2010 and in Australia by the middle of that year.

Jaguar Land Rover acting CEO David Smith confirmed that the XJ will appear late next year, but would reveal no other details of the long-awaited fourth generation, which will herald a new look along the lines of the recently released XF mid-sized saloon.

“Jaguar’s a brand that for many years has been powerful with the customer, but we haven’t necessarily had the products that fulfil what the customer expects. I think with XK and XF we’re doing that now,” Mr Smith told GoAuto.

“We’ll have a new version of XJ in time, which I think is going to be a very exciting product as well, so we’re pleased with that. That’s probably 18 months off still, but that’s going to be a very nice product.” Mr Smith was reticent when asked how different it would be from the current model that, although the latest series dates back to only 2003 in Mark 3 guise, clearly traces its lineage back to the original 1968 XJ6.

“We’ll see,” he said cautiously. “The XF shows you how modern-looking a Jaguar can be. We saw the design themes developing between XK and XF, and we’ll develop it further with the next product as well.” The new XJ will, of course, be styled by famed Jaguar designer Ian Callum and is expected to share many of its styling traits, so expect a smoother exterior shape and a more modern interior but still with plenty of leather and wood.

6 center imageLeft: Jaguar X-Type.

Having been dropped in the US, the future of the aging X-Type remains under a cloud and Mr Smith concedes that the compact sedan’s future has yet to be determined, but was pleased to report that production has been increased recently as a result of introducing a facelift and a diesel variant for the first time.

“The X-Type will come to the end of its life at some stage,” Mr Smith told GoAuto. “Just at the moment we’re quite pleased with the reaction to the diesel so we’re adding some production this year.

“We haven’t decided (on a new generation) yet. We’re still thinking about future plans. We’ve got quite a few things that we’re looking at at the moment.” Mr Smith agreed that the future of the X-Type, which was launched in 2001 based on a Ford Mondeo platform, would depend on the views of new Jaguar owner Tata Motors.

“As part of the acquisition process, they bought into the base plan, but we’ll have some more extensive discussions about other alternatives as well going forward.” Jaguar Land Rover Australia boss David Blackhall said that the 2.0-litre X-Type diesel will come to Australia in the third quarter this year.

Having just launched the XF mid-size saloon globally, there is naturally an expectation that Jaguar will launch an even hotter version than the supercharged 4.2-litre SV8 model now part of the four-model range in Australia.

Mr Smith confirmed that an XFR will be launched, but would not say when.

“That’s something that we’ll be rolling out because we’ve shown with the XKR that that’s a concept that’s really going to work,” he said.

“As we develop the Jaguar business going forward, we’re realising there are quite a number of opportunities to improve our revenue and mix, so doing something like high-performance versions of the cars makes a lot of sense for us.

“It’s very consistent with our ‘Beautiful fast cars’ strategy and it’s really putting the ‘fast’back into Jaguar as well.”

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