It will take some fast talking by officials from Jaguar Land Rover when they get their turn in the spotlight next week. The British maker plans to introduce three new models during the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show media preview.
They cover a wide mix of offerings, each aimed at broadening the reach of the traditionally narrow JLR line-up. That includes the first auto show appearance of the Range Rover Evoque Convertible, the unveiling of the U.S.-spec Jaguar XE sedan, and the first North American appearance of the Jaguar F-Pace crossover-utility vehicle.
The three new models emerge from the largest capital investment program in Jaguar Land Rover history, the Indian-owned automaker spending about 3 billion British pounds, or $4.5 billion, annually on both product development and the opening of new plants in China, India, Brazil and Slovakia.
The Evoque Convertible becomes the fifth member of the Range Rover family, and while it isn’t expected to generate major sales it nonetheless could bring a new range of buyers into showrooms where the current Evoque has become Land Rover’s best-selling model ever. About 500,000 have been sold since the compact SUV was first introduced.
Gerry McGovern, Land Rover Design Director, calls the ragtop Evoque, “a symbol of refinement, luxury and creative design.”
The Evoque Convertible did get a sneak preview in London earlier in the week, an unveiling staged at London’s picturesque Saint Martins building in Kings Cross. But LA showgoers will be the first to be able to see the unusual SUV ragtop up front.
(Click Here to see the Evoque Convertible undergoing off-road testing)
JLR isn’t the first to give a softtop to an SUV. Nissan tried that a few years ago with the bigger Murano, though sales were marginal and it was soon pulled from the line-up. Land Rover is betting it can fare better with the smaller Evoque-based convertible. McGovern has the “challenge” was to slash off the roof without losing the small ute’s “distinctive character.”
While details are being held for the LA show, expect the Range Rover Evoque Convertible to feature a one-touch power top and a modified version of the current rollover protection system, according to LR insiders.
The ragtop model will be launched in the U.S. in mid-2016, with a starting price set at $50,475, the maker says.
A hard launch date for the new Jaguar F-Pace hasn’t been announced yet, though the British maker says it will start at $40,990 for a version equipped with a 180-horsepower 2.0-liter turbodiesel.
(JLR wants to slash costs but double sales. Click Here for the story.)
Jaguar managers long debated whether to add a ute to the line-up, the prevailing wisdom, until recently, being that buyers would turn to the Land Rover side of the showroom. But they’ve now concluded that Jaguar needs a unique crossover of its own.
To make it work, F-Pace will share the same new architecture found under the skin of the all-new Jaguar XE and other products to follow. First shown in Europe at this autumn’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the F-Pace continues the brand’s migration to lightweight aluminum instead of conventional steel.
Along with the new diesel, the Jaguar F-Pace will be offered with two versions of the brand’s 3.0-liter supercharged V-8, one making 340-horsepower, the other 380.
As for the XE, it is set to make its belated entry into the US. market after an earlier European launch. It demonstrates the broad flexibility of the Jaguar brand’s new platform which is designed to handle a mix of products from the compact to midsize segments, both in traditional passenger car and newer crossover configurations.
The Jaguar side of the company is expected to launch a number of other new models in the next few years, including a larger crossover as well as a battery-electric CUV.
Land Rover, meanwhile, has broken its line-up into three distinct pillars, Range Rover targeting its most elite buyers.
(An all-electric Jaguar SUV? Click Here to find out.)