By on June 23, 2020

Jaguar logo

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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17 Comments on “As Jaguar’s Car Problem Continues Apace, Is the Brand Mulling a Smaller Entry?...”

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Jaguar has a number of issues – reliability not the least among them. That said, I like Jags and could be interested in a car based on the R-D6 concept. The question is, who could they share a platform with? BMW? I might have mixed feelings about that.

    Which beings me to another issue for the brand: The newer sedans don’t look like Jaguars. They’re not bad looking but they’re a bit too generic for the luxury market. Then again, I think the E-Pace and F-Pace look great. But they’re not setting any sales records, either. So what do I know?

    • 0 avatar

      Jaguar seems to be not he same quest as Cadillac to go completely in the opposite direction of most peoples’ brand perception. The result is generic cars that inspire no love from anyone.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    It’s worth noting that the electric I-Pace (with its exceptionally complex suspension, because Jaguar) is a sales turd also. Heralded as a Model X killer, it’s been panned by reviewers on several fronts, including range, the ‘gas gauge’, software glitches, interior volume, and value.

    Jaguar’s problems run deep and wide.

    If they produce this mythical hybrid sedan, from whom will they take sales – BMW?

  • avatar

    “Who owns Jaguar Land Rover?”

    “Tata, for now.”

  • avatar

    And here we are again, about to try something again that didn’t work 20 years ago. Let’s partner with another automaker so we can borrow their compact platform and make our own small car. It all sounds so familiar.

    The entire premise is wrong. Car – wrong. Compact car – even more wrong. Why enter a shrinking market with a low volume, low profit model as a niche automaker?

    • 0 avatar

      This may make sense in Europe and China. Maybe. But I still wouldn’t purse it. Because of global economic conditions surrounding money printing, soon your market will largely be: 1. We can buy whatever we want and 2. We can barely afford a car/fuel. Jaguar seems to want to chase volume -as Cadillac did- but there will be no volume for its product offerings as time goes on.

  • avatar

    Maybe their full lineup doesn’t work because they all look alike. Every sedan looks like the same “4-door coupe” design, with different wheelbases.

    Compare the current SJ with its sloping roof and cut-off rear to a 1990 SJ. The 30-year old model still looks good, and the owner would be comfortable hiring a driver and sitting in the back seat.

    Today, a 50+ year old exec would have to sit in the front passenger seat of a current SJ to get the same legroom and headroom that existed in the 1990’s back seat. In the past, Jaguar knew who its sedan customers were, and built XK’s for the enthusiasts.

  • avatar

    A marque known for luxury selling cars at the lower end of the market? It worked out brilliantly for Rover!

    Oh, wait…

    Granted, Rover had many, many other issues, but consistently moving further downmarket didn’t help. Can’t see it going any better for Jaguar if they toss a hatchback into the mix.

    • 0 avatar

      Luxury cars mean to me size, stand out styling, great performance and a luxurious, comfortable interior. Reliability may/may not count. Now lets move our luxury brands downstream so that they go head to head with the upscale march of the mass manufacturers. Now the luxury brands use mediocre engines, inside of cramped cabins, made up of cheap materials so they can control prices to try to expand their potential market. That business plan doesn’t work. If I want a nondescript smallish car with mediocre performance and a pretty good interior, I can buy any number of upper level trim models from mass manufacturers and get a cheaper and more reliable car than Jaguar can make. Look at the first few years of the XE. Now although the content may be up, and the price isn’t astronomical, I wouldn’t trust the reliability or resale compared to the Japanese or Korean offerings.

  • avatar

    ““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.”

    Nearly every model sold in USDM is styled or designed for female or unisex audiences, yes including the current generation of actual trucks. I can’t think of anything introduced in the past four years outside of perhaps exotics that is directed at majority male audiences (2/3rds majority, not simple majority). Maybe C8?

  • avatar

    This is the type of car that I find very appealing. For that reason, Jaguar shouldn’t do it.

    I like wagons, manual transmissions, NA engines and buttons instead of screens. If I like it, a carmaker should take that as a sign to not make it.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Like seeing an ex at bar after you’ve had too much to drink; Ford should look at Jaguar and think one more time. No, not a share keys sign a lease sort of thing. Build a four door Mustang for Jaguar. Coyote V-8for top of the line, an ecoboost for leasers, and an EV for parking in Sloan Square. Jaguar XX, Continental Mark X, and dagnabit, a de-contented Mark X called a Galaxy. Ragtops? V-8 only. Both companies have done dumber things.

  • avatar

    One thing in Jag’s favour is they don’t have to worry about producing an engine as almost no-one knows what engine is in their car, nor do they care, so they can buy anyone’s powertrain. A Jag sedan must have outstanding style outside and inside and handle well, in theory, these should be easy, if they are brave.

  • avatar

    I can see the thinking here. Jaguar could make a smart looking premium hot hatch that doesn’t really exist today. The BMW 1 series has never looked good and Audi and Mercedes never really nailed the styling. Jaguar can come in fresh and go for something that’s a breath of fresh air. The hope being it could do for Jaguar what the Evoque did for Land Rover. The sales being strongest at home.

    Truth is however it’s a huge gamble. The alternative path is to clone Porsche’s model line up. 3 sports cars, 3 SUVs and 1 large sporty car (the XJ). Then scrap the XE and possibly just hope the XF recovers the sales it lost to the XE. That’s far less of a gamble than the hot hatch.

    Brave plan vs stability

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I’d drive one on a well subsidized lease.

  • avatar

    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

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