Jaguar’s has begun testing tech for its breakthrough small car, hidden beneath this cut-and-shut XF bodywork. Codenamed X760, the ‘baby’ Jag will slot into the line-up beneath the XF, and compete with mid-ranking cars in the BMW 3-series and Audi A4 ranges.
Design has been working on the baby Jag for years, with the goal of creating a drop-dead gorgeous car that feels special compared with its established rivals. The general theme is a four-door coupe: think Jaguar’s take on the Mercedes CLA or CLS concepts.
Jaguar is looking to take a chunk of the biggest premium car segment, with a four-door or a crossover SUV. Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar global brand director, has been weighing up Jag’s move. ‘If you look at the chess board on bodystyles and size of vehicle, and then the volumes that are sold in each quadrant, the biggest segment is the one below XF in premium cars. And the two biggest bodystyles are first saloons and then SUVs,’ Hallmark told CAR at the Geneva motor show in early March .
He added: ‘We’re looking at volume potential. [We want to be] in a 2.8-million car segment, where there is lots of competition, where you’ve got to be really good to stand out.’
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What’s under the skin?
New technology is being tested beneath this mashed-up XF: the glasshouse behind the B-pillar is squeezed, the exhausts are repositioned inboard, and the ill-fitting bonnet and boot wouldn’t survive an executive’s panel gap test. Boxfresh four-cylinder engines and a new aluminium architecture will make their debut on the finished car.
Jaguar-Land Rover is slashing the proliferation of different platforms underpinning its ranges. The steel XF and aluminium XJ epitomise today’s complexity that Jaguar is seeking to drive out; Land Rover is taking the lead by pooling the new-generation Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.
Engineers plan to spin the baby Jag off the same rear drive, aluminium components set as the next-generation XF and XJ. ‘The big synergies are in the manufacturing process, where you can build all models in the same system, and [share] some of the hardware like the electronic architecture, aircon, powertrains, and some suspension parts and seat frames,’ says Hallmark. ‘These are the modular components that allow you to go from big cars to small cars, wide ones to narrow ones, tall ones, low ones, you name it. It’s this modularity in the architecture that’s key.’
The X760 saloon is almost certain to send drive to the rear wheels, with four-wheel drive also available. Jaguar has toyed with front-wheel drive for X760, but it would introduce unnecessary complexity.
Power will come from V6 and four-cylinder engines. Jaguar is investing more than £500 million in a new engine plant in Wolverhampton, which will be home to a new generation of fourpot petrol and diesel engines. The first engines will come off the line in 2015 – perfect timing for being installed in X760’s snout.
Jaguar insiders are promising something special from its new models, rather than me-too saloons. ‘Any Jaguar has to got to be genuine, authentic and true to the brand values: innovative in its technology and the best looking car in the segment, and the best driving product on the road,’ says Hallmark. ‘A car that makes you feel inspired. The XK120 is a silly example but it’s that kind of tingle, that excitement, that every Jag has to have both at the wheel and to the eye.’