It was, for a time, the best-selling Jaguar ever, but when the British marque decided to abandon the small sedan, few wept at the departure of a model that had seldom received favorable reviews. Yet the question remains whether any luxury brand with even modest mainstream aspirations can survive without an offering in the compact segment – and there are growing indications that a new “Baby” Jag just might be headed for production.
The original X-Type suffered from the fact that it was a compromise design, sharing much of its underlying platform and componentry with the Mondeo, the mid-market compact produced by Jaguar’s former parent, Ford Motor Co. Now that the British maker – and its sibling Land Rover – are owned by India’s Tata Motors, a future Baby Jaguar would almost certainly feature an entirely unique platform, or a heavily modified version of the chassis used by the larger and more expensive Jaguar XF.
The British maker has confirmed that it plans to increase its line-up in a bid to boost what are admittedly marginal sales. The all-new 2011 XJ marks the start of that campaign, but despite its hefty price tag, a luxury maker can rarely survive solely on large premium models. In today’s highline market, mid- and compact products are the high-demand offerings, the BMW 3-Series proving the point.
A compact sports car, smaller than the current XK, is under development, Jaguar officials confirm. But beyond that, the maker is being unusually cagey about future products. In an interview with TheDetroitBureau.com earlier this year, Jaguar’s managing director Mike O’Driscoll said there were no plans for a new Baby sedan, though his carefully worded comments didn’t rule out the possibility of changes to that strategy.
And since the hiring of former Opel boss Carl-Peter Forster as Tata’s chief executive, insiders say many changes are, indeed, being made.