I’ve got to admit, I was quite excited to see the long-awaited, often-rumoured, previously-cancelled Jaguar F-Type finally get launched. It is a truly beautiful thing in the metal. It sounds mighty fine too.
But I was disappointed to hear how much Jaguar are going to be charging for one. I mean, £60k isn’t far short of what they’re charging for the gracefully-ageing XK.
I’m pretty sure, if he saw the prices, Sir William Lyons would be spinning in his grave. His key ethos was for Jaguar to be affordable luxury sports cars – he wanted to deliver driving pleasure, but at a price people wanted to pay. Nigh on £60k doesn’t fit many people’s definitions of affordable. And if it does fit your definition, then probably you’ll be looking more towards Bentleys and Rolls-Royces than Jaguar anyway.
What concerns me is that I can see the Jaguar brand dying in my lifetime. I know no schoolboys who lust after an XK or XJ. Actually, I don’t know anyone under the age of about 50 who lusts after any Jaguar of any sort. And if I had £60k to play with, the first car on my list wouldn’t be an F-Type. Or any other Jaguar, really*.
This is a real shame, as Jaguar’s engineering integrity and build quality is second-to-none: they deserve to succeed and to thrive, and to match their sister company Land Rover’s frankly astonishing recent revitalisation.
What Jaguar should be aiming for is that mid-market slot, such as currently occupied by the amazing-selling Range Rover Evoque. Circa £35k is still not cheap, but it brings the brand that bit closer to us younger people who don’t have a ginormous disposable income but want something a bit bling and a bit special. Why not have a baby Jaguar convertible – or even just a coupe – to compete with the Mazda MX-5, the Audi A3 and A4 convertible (even the VW Eos), the BMW 3-Series cabriolet, the Mercedes SLK?
These cars are selling – in fact, the UK is Europe’s biggest drop-top market, despite our weather – so why is Jaguar not taking advantage of this niche? Slap in the 2.0 diesel for the mass market – after all, VW, Audi and BMW are selling many diesel convertibles – and have a big petrol engine, with a touch of lairiness, as the “halo car” for the true petrolheads. Heck, even put a big diesel in it for a shovel-load of torque. Make it lightweight and rear wheel drive for some real driving excitement. Revitalise that reputation for producing sweet-handling cars.
Above all, Jaguar need to decide if they want to grow the brand, keep it alive and move it forward (like Land Rover have done with Range Rover). Basically, they need to get some balls, some fun, some humour, and above all some youth back into the brand. You can sell an old man a young man’s car, but you’ll never sell a young man an old man’s car. The X-Type proved that.
Oh, and Jaguar, please stop with this po-faced pretension of cold, aloof stylishness in your advertising. It’s not fooling anyone.
*XF is all right, but even the Sportbrake wouldn’t suit us as we haul too much crap around; XJ just doesn’t float my boat styling-wise (love the aggression at the front: but the back and sides make it look like the bastard offspring of a Citroen and an Audi); XK is nice enough but looks like it should belong to the newly-retired gentleman at your local golf club with a trophy wife (and a trophy mistress, if said gentleman has the XK-RS).