Jaguar looks almost certain to follow the global market trend in adding a new compact SUV to its ranks - but it's not going to happen for a while.
Many mainstream brands have added compact high-riders, while the big luxury brands are also present in the booming compact SUV segment. There's the Mercedes-Benz GLA, BMW X1, Audi Q3 and also the upcoming Infiniti QX30 - but nothing has been mentioned from Jaguar - until now.
The brand has previously confirmed its plans to build the anticipated F-Pace model (seen in the image above in prototype guise), which will fight with models a class above the aforementioned tiny high-riders. So there's going to be space below, and the company is keen to fill as many gaps as it can on its quest to build its sales totals.
Jaguar global design chief Ian Callum previously told CarAdvice that he would personally love to work on a small Jaguar, and it looks almost certain that the number crunchers will let him get his way at some point in the future.
Jaguar Land Rover group sales operations director Andy Goss told CarAdvice at the 2015 New York auto show that the prospect of a new small model is good, but that it has been typecast to fulfil a particular role.
"We all really know within our remit in the small SUV and smaller crossover markets we’ve got [Land Rover] Discovery Sport and [Range Rover] Evoque there, which together will do well over 200,000 vehicles. So it proves [the SUV-happy German brands are] right – there’s a big marketplace there. We know what the German volumes are.
"So if Jaguar is going to do a car below XE, it wouldn’t be a sedan," Goss said. "That’s clear."
Goss explained that the SUV segment - particularly as an entry point to the brand - offers more prospects than other types of cars.
"You know, there’s not a sedan market of any size that’s premium below that. You need a different body style, so theoretically that’s possible," he said.
Goss admitted that SUVs have enormous pull in the global market right now, and there's plenty of reasons for the company to want to look into that style of vehicle more.
"If you look at what’s going to happen in the global market between now and 2020, crossovers, performance crossovers, SUVs in various price boundaries – those are the areas that are forecast to get bigger and bigger and bigger. Because they’re global.
"You know, it works in developed markets, it works in developing markets. Land Rover is a global brand; Jaguar is not yet a global brand. That sounds a bit silly to say, but it’s true – there’s developing markets around the world where Jaguar doesn’t have a big existence at this stage, because it came from V8 rear-wheel-drive 10 minutes ago.
"What we’re doing here is making sure that we can have a breadth of Jaguar product there, and yes it makes sense that it could be more than one crossover. It’s not a plan, but we’ve got plenty of things to get our teeth in to.
"At the moment, though, there’s lots of other things to do here, frankly."
By that remark, Goss was referring to the fact the Jaguar brand is undergoing something of a product renaissance. The company has just launched the XF mid-size sedan, while the XE is only a few months old. There's also the larger F-Pace crossover, which will debut later this year.
When asked about the other gaps in the brand's line-up, Goss suggested the company is trying to get the core models right before moving on to new projects.
"Whilst the German brands are almost looking at micro niches to launch products into, we’ve still got enormous segments that we don’t exist in at Jaguar at the moment," Goss said.
"It’s not really in our psyche at this stage. What’s in our psyche is – what could we do that makes sense. With the architecture that we’ve got, that we could build in future plants or current plants. We have this chessboard, whether it’s by price and by body style – what are the big premium segments we should be getting into – we do the same thing for Jaguar and the same thing for Land Rover."
When asked if there's a cap on how many models and derivatives the brand could manage, Goss indicated that it's not worth worrying about at this point.
"I don’t see any natural cap that’s remotely near us on Jaguar at this stage, as long as it’s performance – that’s what counts.
"We’re so far away from it, it’s not in our consideration. Jaguar is a performance brand from our perspective, and therefore, as long as it’s got that in there on the face of it the product should work.
"But realistically we’re coming from such a long way back – you know, we’ve got three Jaguars coming out in 12 months, two of them are in white spots in the marketplace for us, with F-Pace and XE. They’re almost like 90 per cent-plus conquest [from other brands],” he said.
“But even when we’ve got that there, there’s a lot more that we’ve got to do, without a shadow of a doubt. Jaguar’s coming from a long way back, and therefore the few products we’ve got will be a multiplier, really."
Would you like to see Jaguar expand its SUV offering? Or should it leave Land Rover to that?