Jaguar tries wrong-wheel-drive. Again.
Even if you didn't know Jaguar isn't being run by a bunch of Brits anymore, at least you know it sells large, rear-drive sedans—or saloons—in the parlance of its heritage. But, once upon a time in the naughties, when U.S. Ford was stroking the cheques and looking for exaggerated sales growth beyond Jaguar's natural as a niche player, the storied Brit brand sold a small, front-wheel-drive car: the legendry-for-all-the-wrong-reasons 2000 to 2009 X-Type.
Shockingly for Ford, the X-Type went on to not only become a sales dud, but also a marketing and branding black eye. The car was skewered by us journo types for exactly what it was—a chromed-over Euro Ford Mondeo—and after a decade of mediocre sales, was never replaced. And yet now, seemingly having forgotten the whole X-Type adventure, a report in Autocar is saying Jaguar's newest stewards at India’s Tata Group are looking at a small, FWD car again.
Today, the smallest Jag you can buy is the mid-size XF, in theory, an Audi A6/BMW 5 Series/Infiniti M/Mercedes E Class rival. But with its yet-unnamed compact, the automaker will drop down two whole segments, and take on the likes of the forthcoming Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLC small sedans, and not become the previously speculated rear-drive BMW 3 Series rival.
While the ol’ X-Type was available in four-door sedan and wagon guise (and eventually a slip-n-grip all-wheel-drive variant), this time round, Tata is looking at a sedan, coupe and roadster as well. Forget V12s. Instead, expect versions of Jaguar Land Rover’s new 1.5-litre three-cylinder and four-cylinder in 1.8 and 2.0-litre turbocharged gas and diesel iterations.
So why is Jaguar going down this down-market, wrong-wheel-drive path again?
According to the article, the new baby Jag is “being partly forced on the company by the stringent new CAFE fuel economy regulations due in the U.S. from 2016.”
Ah. Great. Another government-mandated car. Good luck with that. But what do you think?
Will the new car have enough English gentlemen's club leather and wood to make the idea of a small, FWD Jag enticing enough for customers who buy into the leaping cat badge old money image?
Or is merry ol’ Jaguar simply irrelevant with the type of young, affluent customers the premium compact segment is trying to attract with such a small car?