As Jaguar's Car Problem Continues Apace, Is the Brand Mulling a Smaller Entry?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
as jaguars car problem continues apace is the brand mulling a smaller entry

Fielding a full range of passenger cars is soooo yesterday, man. Almost no one does it anymore. Certainly, no American automaker, anyway.

Across the pond, Jaguar finds itself at a fork in the road. The sedan market is drying up, and along with it, sales of its compact XE and midsize XF models. The XJ is going electric, so that’s a decision already made.

But what to do at the bottom end of the market?

One possibility, Autocar reports, is to consolidate both models into a single sedan that would attract buyers from both camps. Whatever buyers remain, that is. It’s a possibility floated for some time already (and one reportedly under consideration by company brass), though Jaguar’s new design boss, Julian Thomson, has his mind set on another project he feels could prove useful: a new stepping stone into the brand.

Thomson envisions a small hatchback Jag. Keep in mind that what works for Europe might go over like a lead balloon in America.

“I’d love to do some smaller cars, and it feels as though the time is right. Jaguar needs a global product that could appeal to younger buyers, and more females as well,” Thomson told the publication.

“Our values are ideal for owners who want more efficient cars but still like design quality, luxury and cars that are nice to drive.”

He added, “But it’s a tough sector. You need big numbers, which means big factories and a big organisation to sell them. But that’s definitely where I would like us to be.”

A potential muse, or at least inspiration, for such a vehicle is the R-D6 concept vehicle — a clamshell-doored compact sport hatchback unveiled by Jaguar back in 2003. A new, small Jag, especially one with hybrid power under hood, would go a long way to placating overzealous EU regulators by reducing the brand’s emissions footprint. Autocar argues there’s still enough volume in the European premium compact market to make such an effort worthwhile, assuming Jag plays its development cards right.

It would also be a new way to lure buyers into the brand, as the XE hasn’t proven adept at doing that. A hurdle exists, however, in sourcing a platform for such a small car. Perhaps a partnership with a rival automaker would solve the problem? After all, product tie-ups are all the rage these days.

Time will tell whether either possibility comes to pass. Whatever the future holds, we at least know that the current lineup isn’t doing what it should.

In the U.S., Jaguar XE sales amounted to 3,551 units in 2019, with the XF adding another 1,187 sales. In other words, the Kia Cadenza outsold the XF and the Fiat 500 came within 284 units of topping the XE. Sales leaders, these sedans are not.

[Images: Jaguar Land Rover]

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  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Jun 24, 2020

    I'd drive one on a well subsidized lease.

  • Scott Scott on Jun 26, 2020

    I know it is “retro” but I would like to see the front end of this old concept on the current cars ( along with more curves). It looks way better to me than what they are using now

  • Wjtinfwb Over the years I've owned 3, one LH (a Concorde) a Gen 1 300 and a Gen 2 300C "John Varvatos". The Concorde was a very nice car for the time with immense room inside and decent power from the DOHC 3.5L. But quality was awful, it spent more time in the shop than the driveway. It gave way to a Gen 1 300, OK but the V6 was underwhelming in this car compared to the Concorde but did it's job. The Gen 1's letdown was the awful interior with acres of plastic, leather that did it's best imitation of vinyl and a featureless dashboard that looked lifted from a cheaper car. My last one was a '14 300C John Varvatos with the Pentastar. Great car, sufficient power and exceptional highway mileage. The interior was much better than the original as well. It was felled by a defective instrument cluster that took over 90 days to fix and was ultimately lemon law' d back to FCA. I'd love one of the 392 powered final edition 300s but understand they're already sold out and if I had an extra 60k available, would likely choose a CPO BMW 540i for comparable money.
  • Dukeisduke Thanks Cary. Folks need to make sure they buy the correct antifreeze, since there are some many OEM-specific ones out there (Dex-Cool, Ford gold, Toyota red and pink, etc.).And sorry to hear about your family situation - my wife and I have been dealing with her 88-yo mom, moving her into independent senior living, selling her house, etc. It's a lot to deal with.
  • FreedMike Always lusted after that first-gen 300 - particularly the "Heritage Edition," which had special 300 badging and a translucent plastic steering wheel (ala the '50s and '60s "letter cars").
  • Dave M. Although the effective takeover by Daimler is pooped upon, this is one they got right. I wasn't a fan of the LHs, mostly due to reported mechanical, NVH and build quality issues, but I though Chrysler hit it out of the park with the LXs. The other hyped release that year was the Ford Five Hundred, which, while a well-built car with superior interior space, couldn't hold a candle to the 300.
  • Art Vandelay I always liked those last FWD 300's. Been ages since I've seen one on the road though. Lots of time in the RWD ones as rentals. No complaints whatsoever.