Speaking at the international launch of the hottest Jaguar XF in the range, the XFR-S, Jaguar product planning manager Steven De Ploy said that the opening of the plant and the new engines it will offer will be crucial to the future growth of the XF range.
“[Our] first and foremost priority is … to expand the models that we’ve got, which are badly in need to make volume and so on [and] require really expanding towards the lower end of the market to tap into a real volume base and also the fleet market,” told De Ploy, who cited the XF as a prime example of requiring a range expansion.
“Today the majority, if you’re one of our customer base, is really retail oriented. The fleet market is very cost of ownership based [so] people stick for as long as possible to the size of the car … but the first thing they give up on is the engine [size].
“If you think about Europe, the UK, which is still our biggest combined market, it’s all diesel. So obviously in that territory we’d have to get below the 2.2-litre diesel proposition, we have to lower fuel economy and CO2 and performance in order to truly compete in that end of the market.”
Come mid 2014 it means that two new turbo-diesel four-cylinder engines, and two new turbo petrol four-cylinder engines, will be installed firstly into the XF large car and then other Jaguar models.
The current 2.2-litre turbo-diesel claims 5.4L/100km combined, almost a full litre higher than the 2.0-litre engines in the BMW 520d and Mercedes-Benz E250 CDI.
It is expected that a 1.8- or 2.0-litre Jaguar diesel – the new engines will be completely developed and built by the brand – could help the XF dip under 5L/100km. Whether it can compete with the circa-135KW/380Nm outputs of its rivals, however, is unclear.
This generation of Jaguar XF, although facelifted last year, is five years old and significantly older than its rivals. Although De Ploy concedes this, and says that competitors “kind of dictate to some extent what is the life span of the car, and how long you can keep it competitive,” he maintains the car will not be replaced in the near future.
“The facelift … we still see a huge growth potential for the car, so currently renewing the car isn’t in sight,” he adds.
Given competitive pressures, however, it is expected that the Jaguar XF will be replaced in 2015 or 2016, before the (even older) Jaguar XK sports car that De Ploy believes can handle a longer life cycle.