How Jaguar Land Rover Plans to Rule the Luxury Roost

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

As the second generation Jaguar XF luxury sedan continues to embark upon its “get to know you phase” here in America, there are a few things about it and the Range Rover Td6 turbo-diesel SUV that warrant mentioning. Long known for being top-tier and tastefully crafted, the Jaguar/Land Rover (JLR) brand has grown tired of being outperformed by other luxury automakers, and with pricing starting well below $65,000 for either vehicle, getting a fresh serving of British engineering has never been more affordable or rewarding.

But affordability isn’t the only thing JLR is courting us with, as it looks to offer a far more superior product than ever before with lighter weight engineering, restyled profiles, more interior space, next gen Jaguar InControl Touch Pro infotainment systems, better fuel efficiency, and tons of off-road prowess for all things Range Rover. Coming at you alongside programs like Jaguar EliteCare, a best-in-luxury class five-year/60,000 mile customer care and warranty program, the British brand is blatantly fixated with the notion of offering more for the money than ever before, and that premium price tags should come with amenities to back it all up.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

While in attendance at a press conference outside of Sedona, Ariz., I was told that over the next six months the JLR brand will be launching a full-scale product offensive in order to showcase how it has become “the most changed automaker in the US.” Garnering over 16 international awards already this year for the XF alone, the Jaguar side of the equation plans to triple its market reach this time around, and in the process corner 1.2 million sales. While that may sound like a tall order to some, it will likely be quite achievable considering that for the first time in its 50-year history, Jaguar will have five different vehicles to offer at those surprisingly reasonable price points.

But numbers aren’t the only thing worth noting, for cars like the new XF now feature Jaguar’s unique aluminum-intensive architecture, which on that chassis alone shaves off 132 pounds on rear-wheel drive variants, and up to 265 pounds on all-wheel drive models. Stronger, safer, stiffer, and sexier, this clever stab at engineering also offers drivers a 9% improvement in fuel economy, with the supercharged, rear-wheel drive XF V6 delivering up to 30 miles-per gallon gains on the highway. Couple that with 340-380 horsepower, JaguarDrive Control (JDC) with four driving modes, adaptive dampers, Adaptive Surface Response mode (AdSR), All-Surface Progress Control for smooth drive-away on snow and ice, and a host of additional safety tech, and you’ve got our undivided attention gents. Oh, and did I mention that this all can be had for just $51,900?

Source: Jaguar/Land Rover

Source: Jaguar/Land Rover

Jaguar tells us that it has invested over $650 million in its U.K. assembly plant in order to prep for this offensive, and for good reason. In order to create inherently lighter and stiffer body structures, aluminum alloys, self-piercing rivets, and structural adhesives must all be utilized in order to outshine the competition. This means that at its core the XF is now 75% aluminum-based, making it 28% stiffer and 11% lighter than its predecessor. A bare bones skeleton like the one you see here weighs about the same as a naked Fiat 500 chassis.

Aluminum also makes an appearance in both the hood and along the front fenders, while the front-end carrier and cross beam are cast from an even lighter magnesium alloy. Pressed from a single sheet of high-strength alloy, the body sides weigh less than 13.2 pounds a piece, and every part of the car’s body is then analyzed to ensure that as many potential sources of noise may be “designed-out.” Thicker aluminum alloy pressings are used when stiffness is key, such as along the under frame reinforcements, and RC5754 (a metal grade unique to JLR), remains predominantly composed of recycled material, with half of this being sourced from the press shops as scrap. This process not only aids in reinforcing closed-loop recycling, but it also reduces the overall electrical consumption an lifecycle CO2 emissions found in all automotive manufacturing plants.

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

I could go on and on for days about how the all-new Jaguar XF has nearly a perfect 50:50 weight distribution, and how double-wishbone front and integral link rear suspension systems offer both stiffness and steering precision, along with first-class comfort and refinement. But you will hear all about those features, along with info on the XF’s advanced damper technologies when I release my “Jump Start” review here in a few days.

But let’s get back to that aforementioned turbo-diesel Range Rover Td6 that went on sale this fall. While 50% of all global sales for the SUV-based brand are diesel, this is the first time in history Americans will get to buy a diesel Rangie off the shelf. Featuring almost as much torque as its supercharged V8 big brother, the Td6 version will reportedly save $450 annually in fuel if you opt for one in place of a V6 model, and over $800 if the the V8 motor gets overlooked. Americans are not nearly as fond of diesel engines as their European friends, due partially to how unrefined they can sometimes be. In order to combat this, Land Rover re-calibrated its diesel system to such a point that after dozens of “blind testing” not a single driver was able to tell if the SUV was a diesel or not.

All of these adjustments have been carefully chosen in order to focus on one key goal: Boosting Jaguar/Land Rover sales and brand awareness here in America. German and Japanese automakers still hold the keys to the castle on our side of the pond with an iron grip, and dammit if the British don’t know it. Lord knows that both versions of the XF I drove in Arizona the other week were exceptionally well done, as was the Td6 Range Rover, I just feel that we have to wait and see if the Brits and their engineering have what it takes to dominate like never before.

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