This proposal is receiving serious consideration.
Jaguar has some big decisions to make in the coming year or so. Despite the fact Jaguar Land Rover recently received a financial lifeline, it's not out of the woods yet. On the plus side, Land Rover remains solid with both sales and demand. But as a whole, JLR has work to do. One area is the Jaguar brand. In short, the Jaguar XE and XF luxury sedans are not selling well despite relatively recent facelifts to keep them competitive. The traditional sedan market just isn't what it used to be.
A decision will have to be made soon regarding their respective successors and Autocar has learned a couple of radical ideas are on the table. The first would be to replace them both with a single compact sedan available with both hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains. That's actually the more conservative idea. The second suggestion comes directly from Jaguar design boss Julian Thomson. He thinks building an even smaller vehicle is the answer.
Instead of a sleek exterior, Thomson's proposal is a premium hatchback with classical styling. Interestingly, this idea was first proposed back in 2003 with the RD6 concept, pictured below. Of course, it never reached production, but the idea never died. "I'd love to do some smaller cars," Thomson said. "It feels as though the time is right. Jaguar needs a global product that could appeal to younger buyers, and more females as well."
However, Thomson is clearly aware the premium hatchback segment carries its own set of risks. "But it's a tough sector. You need big numbers, which means big factories and a big organization to sell them. But that's definitely where I would like us to be." Thomson also admitted one source of inspiration came from none other than the Ferrari Roma with its "la nuova dolce vita" branding, a classically-styled vehicle with its own unique place in the lineup.
At first, a premium hatchback may not sound like the best idea, but bear in mind Jaguar's best-selling vehicle at the moment is the F-Pace SUV. A hatchback could be more easily aligned with Jaguar's SUVs and, hopefully, would deliver higher volume sales than both the XE and XF. It's certainly an interesting proposal, but there's still one big issue: a viable platform.
One possibility is the new MLA architecture which can be configured for internal combustion engines, a plug-in hybrid, and all-electric. MLA will underpin the upcoming next-generation Jaguar XJ sedan, which will be an EV. What JLR now needs to figure out is whether this platform could underpin smaller vehicles, including the next Jaguar E-Pace and Range Rover Evoque. If this is possible, then Thomson's proposal will proceed to the next phase.
Another idea is to have a tie-up with BMW specifically for its front-wheel-drive platform, aka the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe. Whatever ultimately happens, a decision will need to happen pretty soon.