Jaguar aiming to punch German noses
Jaguar is set to make UK automotive history with the launch of their new entry level offering, the Jaguar XE, that is starting to roll off the assembly lines in the West Midlands of England. The British Automaker, which is owned by India’s TATA Motor Corporation, has chosen a factory that was, until recently, the home of its sister brand, Land Rover; it will now be the future home of Jaguar’s entry level models as the first examples rolled off the all-new production plant this week.
The all-new production line is really a factory within a factory and cost an eye-watering £500 million to create, which represents the largest investment in the Solihull plant, ever. Consisting of a new body shop, trim shop and final assembly line, it is seen as a long term commitment by TATA to keep the Jaguar brand firmly located within the British Isles.
Traditionally, Jaguar was always a bit of a stuffy brand designed for middle-class, middle-aged, middle-England types, and amongst the wafting smell of new leather and walnut, there was always a distinct whiff of ‘old-fart’. With its latest offering, Jaguar is hoping to start to shift the ol’fogey image and appeal to a completely new and much younger demographic group.
Jeremy Hicks, Jaguar Land Rover’s Managing Director, is buoyant and believes that the new model will double the sales of Jaguar within the UK to a total of 18,000 units in its first year. “People who buy cars in this market tend to stay very loyal to the brand. We are the new arrival in the playground and are aiming to punch the three biggest kids on the nose,” he said, making a veiled reference to BMW, Audi and Mercedes.
“The XE will bring the average age of the Jaguar driver down significantly. We are accessing young professionals who have historically defaulted to the German brands because they have had nowhere else to go,” he added.
The new Jag’s will be shedding themselves of another whiff as well, and that is of the old owner, Ford. The new XE’s will no longer rely on Ford engines for the powertrain and come with engines built entirely by Jaguar. The top-of-the-range XE S will get the same 335bhp V6 that’s found in the F-type sports car. It’ll propel the XE S to 60mph in 4.9 seconds, and you can put money on the fact that there’s an even more potent XE R model in the works.
It is among the ‘everyday’ models that you’ll find the biggest news. Jaguar’s new 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel unit, called the Ingenium, will be a wholly in-house effort, built at a state-of-the-art £500 million facility that will create 1,400 new jobs. Thanks to its lightweight and low-friction internals, the new engine will give the 161bhp version of the XE the lowest carbon dioxide emissions of any model in its class, at just 99g/km. Meanwhile, for those in need of a little more poke, higher-powered versions will also be available, though as of yet, Jaguar is being a little coy and keeping those under wraps.
It is thought that several derivatives of the new Ingenium engine will be available, details of which will be confirmed by Jaguar at a later date, but all will be offered with a lightweight version of the ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox fitted to other Jaguar’s. “Offered” is a key word here, because the XE will be the first Jaguar in six years to be available with a manual gearbox. Jaguar has specified a two-year or 21,000-mile servicing schedule for the diesel Ingenium engines, and all versions of the XE have been developed to be easy to repair; the front and rear crash structures, as well as the body panels, bolt on and off.