Jaguar's Sexy XF Sportbrake Looks Doomed in the U.S. As Brand Enters Triage Mode [UPDATE]

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
jaguars sexy xf sportbrake looks doomed in the u s as brand enters triage mode

The American public’s rapid conversion to the Church of Crossover caught longtime car peddler Jaguar off guard, forcing the British brand to mull desperate measures to stay profitable. And not just in this market, either.

Jaguar is currently an anchor for Jaguar Land Rover, dragging the automaker’s finances into the red, and Indian parent Tata isn’t happy about it. It wants a quick turnaround. For Jaguar’s U.S. arm, that means less choice for future customers.

We’ve already told you how Jag simplified its XE offerings for 2020, adding more lux and fewer engines and trim levels. Now, JLR North America CEO Joe Eberhardt fills in the rest of the story, including the possibility that some nameplates might not have much time left.

Update: Jaguar has reached out to clarify that the XF Sportbrake, listed below as being in its last model year, will be sold for the 2020 model year. The company did not provide information about model years beyond that. — T.H.

Speaking to The Detroit Bureau, Eberhardt said, “I don’t want to say the speed of change took us by surprise, but they were too quick for us to react to immediately. It takes time to transform ourselves to the point we can be profitable again.”

He continued…

“I don’t think we knew how quickly that trend would happen when we did the F-Pace, E-Pace and I-Pace, so I guess you could call it luck,” the CEO said. “I can guarantee at the time, nobody said it would be 70% at planning meetings. The good news is that we have the product. The question now is how we react on the downside with cars that are not in demand.”

Limiting build options is already a thing at Jaguar U.S.A. In February, it was announced that the 2020 F-Type would lose its manual-transmission option — a feature only available on rear-drive, V6 models, and one that was only added after purists cried foul at the introductory model’s automatic-only proposition. It seems the stick’s take-rate was exceedingly low. Sales of the model, of course, are similarly depressed.

But it isn’t just sticks disappearing from the lineup. Models might, too. Certainly, low-volume variants are on the chopping block as Jaguar seeks to cut costs. It’s a key part of the brand’s new directive, Eberhardt said. While the future of Jag’s car models also hangs in the balance, that’s a decision for another day; in the short term, it’s cull time for things like wagons, and maybe diesel engines. Yes, wagons — like the only one Jaguar sells on this side of the Atlantic, and in the U.S. only.

The XF Sportbrake appeared on these shores in 2017 as a 2018 model in Prestige and sportier “S” guise. An all-wheel drive wagon, the Sportbrake offered a brace of turbocharged engines — a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 3.0-liter V6 — and remains in the automaker’s U.S. lineup for 2019. Its final year, it appears.

After this year, Eberhardt said, “We have to ask (which products) make sense anymore.”

While Land Rover posted record U.S. sales last year, Jaguar’s volume headed in the opposite direction. Sales shrank 23 percent in 2018.

Besides the market shift away from cars, other forces conspire to keep Eberhardt awake at night, topmost of which is the possibility of a no-deal Brexit and American tariffs levied on European cars.

[Images: Jaguar Land Rover]

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  • Raevoxx Raevoxx on Mar 09, 2019

    I've never considered a Jag, until the amount of times they seem to have been brought up, lately. There's a number of XE and XF sedans where I work. Usually all in white. I hardly noticed, until I made it a point to look for them. Perhaps therein lies the problem; too boring and plain looking for me. Especially the front end; it looks darn near anodyne.

  • Michael S6 Michael S6 on Mar 10, 2019

    For a while it looked like Ford made a big mistake by letting go of Jaguar. Apparently they made the right decision as Jaguar isn't going to survive for long. While it's line up of vehicle is stylish and has decent performance, it's reliability ,interior quality, and information systems are very lacking. This leads to poor sales and resale values. There is on way that Tata can invest enough money to keep Jaguar competitive with the Germans, Japanese, or Korean brands.

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