Jaguar Land Rover firing on all cylinders
It’s not just the Range Rover that’s keeping JLR busy. There’s a new product offensive coming that seems certain to keep both Land Rover and Jaguar in the news for months and years to come.
Most obviously Jaguar will put the F-type on sale. The final production version was at Paris and my only complaint is that it will first go on sale as a convertible. I know that smart thinking says you design the convertible first because it’s a doddle to turn that into a coupe. But to me a convertible is always a derivative, not the main event and, like almost all of its type, the still-pretty open F-type is less attractive than its closed sister.
But I suspect the real reason is that Jaguar expects the open F-type to be the more popular of the two designs and wants to put its best-selling foot forward first.
Another new Jaguar will be the XFR-S, an XFR with its engine boosted from 503bhp to 542bhp and bodywork, chassis and price modified to suit. Super saloons are among my favourite cars and as the XF is already the best-handling Jaguar, I’m looking forward to this one more than most, despite the inadequate sub-70 litre fuel tank. On the Land Rover side attention now turns to the Range Rover Sport. The current car is by some distance Land Rover’s least
appealing product but that’s not stopped it out-performing even its most optimistic sales forecasts. Expect the new car in a year and for it to be based on a modified version of the Range Rover’s all-new aluminium monocoque, weighing up to half a tonne less than the current Discovery-based offering.
As for said Discovery, the issue is whether it too can be made from the Range Rover architecture. Traditionally, aluminium cars have needed to be expensive low-volume models, something which argues against it. That said, every time the Disco moves more upmarket and expensive, sales go up, not down. With the drive to lower weight and CO2 emissions ever more important, I’d wager the next Discovery will be more expensive still, and aluminium in structure.
Finally, don’t hold your breath for the new Defender. Though concepts have been shown, the final design remains undecided. Land Rover must avoid the temptation to produce a fashion accessory, not only because the military won’t like it. It can do what it wants with all its other cars so long as one remains a hard-core, off-road working tool. Like the current car, it is its function not its form that matters. In short, if you can’t take a hosepipe to the interior, something will have gone badly wrong.