Most people know what a Jaguar used to be. Fewer people have a solid idea of just what the Jaguar brand is now. At the moment Jaguar is on an eighteen city tour of the United States dubbed the Alive Driving Experience.
Its goal is to put consumers behind the wheel of the “new” Jaguar. Aside from the obvious public relations value, the tour is a rolling example of Jaguar’s mission to re-establish and redefine their brand, not to mention secure a future that lives up to its heritage.
Before attending the Seattle leg of the tour I snooped around on the Internets and found that all of Jaguar’s current models use 5.0L V8s, the least powerful of which produces 385hp. The other two variants of the engine are supercharged. They’re good for 510 and 550 horsepower.
Wowsers. These engines are available in the XF, XJ and XK; they only three models Jaguar currently offers. A fourth, the F-Type will be released in 2013 and is being touted as the car that is intended to define the rebirth of Jaguar for coming generations.
That’s exciting stuff for a brand whose historic existence is now distilled down to a handful of cars designed to aggressively pursue the likes of BMW, Mercedes and Audi to keep its bloodline alive. Without any prodding, Tim Philippo, Product Manager for Jaguar told me exactly why consumers should by a Jaguar instead of the competition.
“German cars are cold, impersonal, and isolate the driver from the driving experience;” he said, “a Jaguar is a thing of beauty to behold, and a thing of joy to drive. If a consumer wants an appliance buy a German machine, but if they want an automobile buy a Jaguar.”
Those are fightin’ words. Jaguar’s three snarling amigos are:
Jaguar’s most affordable model starts at $53,000 with a standard option list that makes certain German rivals look more like status symbols than luxury performance machines.
Jaguar was friendly enough to loan me an XF Portfolio to review. Stay tuned for my respected opinions on just how this “new” Jaguar looks, feels and performs.
The flagship Jaguar - a swing for the fences that looks like it’s going to make it out of the park. Decked out in 510hp Super Sport trim, the XJ costs nearly $20,000 less than the BMW 760L, Mercedes S63 AMG and will keep up with if not outperform both.
In keeping with the “Alive” driving experience Jaguar infused the XJ with plenty of theater.
The start button throbs red. A push of the finger brings the 5.0L V8 to a grumble, raises the gear shifter into the driver’s hand and spins a quartet of air vents into the ready position.
The sports coupe of the bunch looks a bit like an Aston Martin Vanquish V12, only for about $82,000 less the 510hp XKR will reach 60mph in 4.6 seconds compared to the Vanquishes’ 4.2 seconds. You do the math on that one, James Bond.
To drive the concept behind the XK home, the upcoming F-Type promises to far surpass the XK as the brand’s definitive performance machine.
Along with undercutting the competition’s price point Philippo said the Jaguar lineup represents a mission to “return to our core values of building the world's most desirable and beautiful automobiles, and a return to our rightful place as one of the world's most prestigious auto makers.”
So far the “new” Jaguar lineup is giving the competition a serious run for their MSRP and doesn’t appear to be giving up nearly enough in the way of performance to make the price point much less of a selling point.
Besides brand ambiguity the glaring obstacle Jaguar still needs to overcome in order to reclaim the stature of its glory days is to dispel the lingering memory of the brand’s most unflattering cliché, namely that Jags of the 1970’s were cars you should buy two of: One to drive and one for parts when the other broke down.
This year Jaguar tied for second in JD Power and Associates initial quality test, beating out BMW, Mercedes and Audi – yet another reason to give the ‘ol jungle cat a fighting chance at bringing glory back to its name.
Subscribe to read my review of the 2012 Jaguar XF Portfolio. We conquered a mountain together and still made it home in time to take friends out for frozen yogurt. That’s the kind of unique automotive commentary Jaguar is inspiring these days – they’ve created a story that lives in a new generation of cars, one that’s meant to inspire on an animalistic level and intends to be taken seriously.