Revealed: Jaguar’s 3 Series/C-Class fighter

Jaguar has already gone on record with its plans to wade into the compact prestige market, and the image alongside – courtesy of Carparazzi – provides an indication of how its BMW 3 Series/Mercedes C-Class fighter (known internally as Project X760) could shape up.

It’s believed the new small sedan is due to launch in 2013/14, although Jaguar has been coy about making any specific announcements about the vehicle, which could wear XS badges.

The leaping cat’s last foray into the segment was with the Ford Mondeo-derived X-Type, which was sold from 2001 to 2009 – albeit in modest volumes. Put simply, it failed to live up to the core values and heritage expected of the brand and was viewed by many as a poor cousin to the flagship XJ sedan and XK coupe.

Jaguar is obviously keen not to repeat the same mistakes this time around, and its chief designer for sports cars, Alister Whelan, conceded as much when probed on the subject in an exclusive interview with last November.

“I’d say that it’s essential for us to remain true to our brand values,” he said. “We’ve now got the best line-up of products that we’ve had in a very long time. We need to be authentic to who we are… whether it’s down to using an authentic material or an authentic powertrain.

“You can tune the Jaguar DNA in a number of ways – the XF with its metal fascia probably lends itself more to a younger market, where the XJ is more traditional while still being contemporary – so it can be taken up or down within a range of cars,” Mr Whelan added.

“It’s still early days for us (as far as a compact car is concerned). We’re looking at lots of different opportunities. The world is changing, and markets are changing.”

The artist’s rendering shown alongside indicates Jaguar will adhere closely to the design language of the XF and XJ with its new small-car offering, featuring a tapered roofline that accentuates its broad shoulders. The face also closely resembles that of the XF via its gaping grille and slim-line headlights.

As for the nuts and bolts, it’s not yet clear whether the XS (if, indeed, that is what it will be named) will rely on a heavily modified version of the PLA (Premium Lightweight Architecture) that underpins the flagship XJ sedan or an altogether different platform.

If it’s the latter case, that architecture could potentially be used as the basis for the new XE roadster as well as the second-gen XF expected in 2014/15, boosting economies of scale.
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