Automotive

Hunting down a smaller big cat: The new Jaguar XS

Jaguar has been having a much better time of it since being taken over by Tata as part of the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) package. Profitability is good and the company’s reputation for quality has soared since the dark days of the 1970s and 1980s. The company goes up against stiff competition in the largely German premium sector, with the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes all lining up in opposition. If you look at the sales figures, you will see that Jaguar lags behind these marques by a distance. The company has stated it has no ambition to be the same size as these motoring behemoths, but it does want to compete on a more level playing field. That is where the new Jaguar XS comes in.

The new Jaguar XS

The new Jaguar XS

Enter the XS

One of the reasons for Jaguar’s comparatively modest sales is the absence of a compact entry level vehicle in the range. The German brands have options all the way down to supermini size, but the area where Jaguar wants to compete is the compact executive saloon market. The competition here is particularly fierce. In fact, BMW has the 3-Series, Mercedes offers the C-Class and Audi has the A4. Each has been around for a long time and is excellent in its own way. The Jaguar XS is slated for launch in late 2014, with the first deliveries in early 2015. So far, we have seen only heavily disguised ‘mules’ with XF body panels, but already there are some things we can expect from the new Jaguar XS.

No sneak peak for the new Jaguar XS

Usually Jaguar gives us a strong clue as to the appearance of a new model with a near production spec concept car preceding the launch. It’s not so this time, however, and Jaguar says that the first time we will see the new car, it will be the real thing. Observers are pointing to the Paris Motor Show in September as a likely venue for the big reveal. What we know now is that the Jaguar XS will have an all-new aluminium chassis. This ‘iQ’ chassis was first previewed on the C-X17 concept SUV and promises to be light, strong and dynamic.

Gathering the clues

Jaguar’s Head of Design, Ian Callum has given some clues as to the design of the new Jaguar XS. He says that it will not simply be a scaled down XF, but he does hint that the XS will have the distinctive ‘face’ of its big brother as Jaguar builds up its family recognition factor. It is also likely that the Jaguar XS range will feature coupe and estate variants at, or soon after, launch. The engines will include a frugal 2.0 litre petrol or diesel option and Adrian Hallmark, global brand chief of Jaguar, says that the range will extend to a sub 100g/km CO2 engine as well as a 186 mph monster. These engines could also include a hybrid version, and all will be built at the firm’s brand new Wolverhampton engine plant. Further rumours suggest an eight speed automatic gear box, rear wheel drive as standard and the option of four wheel drive.

This is not the first time Jaguar has launched a compact executive saloon. The late and largely unlamented X-Type was produced between 2001 and 2009 and was based largely on the parent company’s Ford Mondeo. This is no bad thing in itself but it was hardly the exclusive and prestige car that the company needed. The new XS is all Jaguar, on the other hand, and already looks like being the real deal.

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