I don’t think Ford ever fully understood the Jaguar brand.
When the U.S. automaker sold the fabled British brand to India’s Tata Motors, I admit at first I was even more skeptical about Jag’s future.
But when I heard that Jaguar is in the final design stages of an all-new roadster, called the XE, my fears subsided. I was especially excited because 10 years ago Ford put the brakes on a promising roadster concept called the F-Type (pictured above), instead deciding to focus on the ill-fated X-Type wagon.
Ratan Tata, owner of Tata Motors, hopes to lead Jaguar through the economic recession and emerge with a game changer. He says Jag “needs something shiny and new,” which I’d call a huge understatement, but absolutely correct.
The XE is expected to debut at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show.
According to Motor Trend, it will use a 5.0-liter AJ-V8 Gen III engine – 385 hp in naturally aspirated form and 510 horses with a supercharger. European buyers may have the choice of the XE with the 272-hp version of the new 3.0-liter V6 diesel that will soon debut in the XF sedan. Imagine a Jaguar that could deliver sub-6-second 0-60 performance while getting 35 mpg.
Jaguar is slowly coming back, with the exceptional XK, the sporty XF, and an all-new redesigned XJ expected in 2010. If they can exploit their success of recently overcoming Lexus in the J.D. Power vehicle dependability study and produce a roadster that can hang with a Porsche 911, they’ll have completed their transformation back to an elite carmaker.
And we’d have a little car company in India to thank for that.
Do you think Jaguar can make a roadster that will compete with a Porsche 911?