A new sports car, a fourth Range Rover, a BMW 3-Series rival and an executive estate, plus new factories in China, exciting engines and a return of focus to innovation... Under Tata control, Jaguar Land Rover will be more ambitious, says top boss Carl-Peter Forster. The man in charge of making it happen is Ralf Speth, and he told us it’s time to put the pedal to the metal!
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IT’S the news that British sports car fans have been desperate to hear – the Jaguar F-Type is go! Bosses at the firm have finally given the green light to the two-seat roadster, which will take on the Porsche Boxster.
The F-Type was first seen in the form of the XK180 concept back in 1998, but the project has been constantly delayed as the company struggled with its finances. But now, thanks to the promise of £1bn of investment every year for the next five years by new Indian owner Tata, a driver-focused sports car is imminent.
“We have a new momentum. There is so much potential,” said Jaguar Land Rover chairman Ralf Speth. “A new sports car is coming.”
Tata chief executive Carl- Peter Forster added: “We like the idea [of a sports car], we support the idea. [Designer] Ian Callum has been working on some ideas along these lines, and we like what we see. We are at the clay model stage, tweaking the idea here and there.”
When it’s finished, expect the F-Type to look very similar to the illustration in our main picture. With a classic mesh grille, sporty air intakes and a bonnet bulge, it has plenty of road presence and is instantly recognisable as a Jaguar.
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JAGUAR XF ESTATE
It’s not only all-new models that Jaguar has in the pipeline – the existing range has been earmarked for expansion, too.
Speaking at a press conference last week Jaguar Land Rover chairman Ralf Speth said: “The sales success of the XF shows that we can compete, but it’s only one model – we need more vehicles in that family.”
This is a clear indication that an estate version and a low-slung XF Coupé are on the way. To back this up, there have been reports of a heavily-camouflaged estate prototype on the prowl near Jaguar’s
headquarters in Gaydon, Warks, although we’ve yet to track down a picture of the mule.
JAGUAR X-TYPE REBORN
THE X-Type is being reborn – and it’s in the shape of a stunning new compact executive that will finally take the fight to BMW’s 3-Series and the Audi A4.
The new model is key to Jaguar’s plan to increase sales – and bosses really want to shock the market. “[A new X-Type] is a logical step in expanding Jaguar, but we need to come up with a real Jag that has wow factor,” said Tata boss Carl-Peter Forster.
Insiders have hinted that the new model could potentially take its inspiration from the R-D6 concept, which debuted at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show.
A handsome retro coupé with barn-style rear doors, this model is still held in high regard in Coventry, and many believe it could be resurrected, given the current popularity of four-door coupés such as VW’s Passat CC.
Despite the good news about Jaguar Land Rover’s investment in new product and advanced technology, Tata boss Carl-Peter Forster believes the firm remains committed to closing one of its UK factories.
Put simply, Forster says “It is much better for a car company to have one large factory, than two small ones.”
Currently, Jaguar Land Rover is reviewing the future of its two West Midlands plants in Solihull and Castle Bromwich. An announcement about the future of the locations is due this summer.
Meanwhile, JLR has confirmed it will open a new plant in China within the next two years. With a production target of around 30,000 units per year, the factory is set to build Defender, Discovery and Freelander models from UK-supplied kits. A similar set-up is also planned for India.
“This move isn’t about taking volume out of the UK,” said Forster. “It’s about strengthening business in emerging markets.”
RANGE ROVER LRX
With Jaguar’s plans for a supercar, roadster and expanded XF range, you could be forgiven for thinking that sister firm Land Rover is set to play a bit part in the future of Jaguar Land Rover.
But with grand plans for the off-road firm’s line-ups, plus hints that an all-new model range is under development, the future looks anything but dull for the 4x4 legend. On the eve of the launch of the long awaited baby Range Rover (scooped by Auto Express in Issue 1,116), Carl-Peter Forster described his vision for the off-road and luxury SUV specialist.
“Clearly, the Land Rover brand is very different to Range Rover,” he said.
“With the latter, we will introduce the first-ever front-wheel-drive model, while Land Rover will continue to focus on delivering brilliant cars that perform as well on road as they do off it. However, as Jaguar and Land Rover move apart, we see room for a new type of vehicle.
It is our intention to plug that gap as quickly as possible.” While details on the newcomer are scarce, Auto Express sources have suggested that the car will be positioned more closely to Range Rover’s family of vehicles, and could possibly be
a four-door version of the three-door LRX, with seats for up to seven passengers.