Jaguar could replace two of its slow-selling sedans with a compact hatchback
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Jaguar needs a home run and could combine the slow-selling XE and XF into a swing swing for the fences in a single model. The company is considering several ways to replace its two smallest sedans, and one option on the table is to fill the gaps they create with a compact hatchback that would put Jaguar in a segment it had never been before was.
Nothing is official yet and Jaguar has still not ruled out developing a direct successor for each model, but British magazine Autocar has learned that at least two other options are being considered. Julian Thomson, the company's design chief, suggested that her position could be filled by a city-friendly hatch that would stretch about 177 inches from bumper to bumper. That number would catapult them into a segment dominated by the Audi A3, the BMW 1 Series, and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. It would lure a new group of customers into the company's global showrooms.
"I would like to drive smaller cars and it seems like the time is right. Jaguar needs a global product that could appeal to younger buyers and more women," said Thomson. Although this is easy on paper, it is much more difficult to achieve in real life. "It's a tough sector. You need big numbers, which means big factories, and a big organization to sell them. But that's exactly where I want us to be."
Jaguar should find an inexpensive way to build the model. Developing an architecture from scratch is an option, although it is expensive for a company whose financial base is shaky at best. It could take advantage of its new MLA platform if it is flexible enough to underpin a small car, or it could ask BMW - with which it is linked through several ongoing partnerships - to use the UKL front-wheel drive architecture, the below of the above 1 can be found.
One point that the original report does not address is that a A3 hatchback would do well in Europe, but would fall flat in the face in the US. For this reason, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have added a trunk to their hatches with a Euro flavor for American buyers who prefer three-box sedans. Jaguar would either have to do the same, meaning that it would replace two sedans with a hatchback that was turned into a sedan, or give up thousands of sales in one of the largest auto markets in the world, which would not be intuitive.
Another option that Autocar offers is to replace the XE (pictured) and the XF with a compact sedan that is said to be environmentally friendly. It would be available with mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology, but would not produce an electric variant, as it would end up in a cost-sensitive segment and battery technology would remain expensive. This approach would work well in the U.S., as the model not yet mentioned would be a three-box sedan, but it would in turn not appeal to the 800,000 drivers who buy a compact hatchback in Europe each year.
Seen in this light, Jaguar is in a kind of pickle. There has been no comment on what the future holds for the XE and XF, so we have to wait for official details to become known to get a better idea of how these models will be replaced.
Jaguar's current focus is on the next generation XJ, whose official debut is slated for late 2020. It will be available with an electric drivetrain, although it is too early to say whether gasoline-powered models will be part of the range, but it will still be recognizable as a member of the XJ family of decades. Thomson described it as more traditional than the segment bending I-Pace.
The XF is planning to receive extensive updates within, outside and under the hood in the not too distant future. We expect the sedan and car variants to be available in the 2021 model year.
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