Is this the end of conventional sports cars for this iconic British brand? The future of Jaguar is gradually taking form. Just a few months ago, the brand’s direction was shrouded in confusion and ambiguity. However, with the recent announcement that the inaugural vehicle of Jaguar’s new era will be a “four-door GT manufactured in Solihull, West Midlands,” an electric vehicle (EV) boasting an impressive range of 690 miles and a starting price of €114,991, the company has finally unveiled its future plans, providing much-needed clarity.
Here we have one of the final combustion-engined vehicles to proudly bear the renowned Big Cat emblem. The F-Type 75 represents a ‘farewell’ edition of Jaguar’s captivating two-seater sports car, offered as both a convertible and the slightly more appealing coupé variant. Available in both 75 and R 75 versions (with the latter boasting enhanced power and handling), this ultimate iteration introduces a captivating new body color known as satin black, complemented by black leather upholstery and striking red brake calipers.
In essence, it epitomizes the quintessence of a contemporary petrol-engined sports car, particularly one that can trace its lineage all the way back to the iconic 1961 E-Type. It not only exudes breathtaking beauty but also delivers an exhilarating driving experience. However, pushing its limits around Monaco, where even the top-of-the-line F-Type can be overshadowed by over-the-top hypercars or effortlessly stylish classics, may not fully showcase the car’s true capabilities.
The ’75’ designation pays homage to 75 years of Jaguar sports cars, commencing with the legendary 1948 XK120, followed by the iconic E-Type, and even including models such as the unconventional XJS, which has now made a triumphant return. The launch event featured a remarkable 1950 rally example of the XK120, bearing the registration NUB 120 and owned by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust. It stood alongside an early E-Type, forming a captivating display of Jaguar’s rich automotive heritage.
Jaguar poised for a “complete reimagination“.
As Jaguar embarks on a fresh chapter, completely revamping its lineup, few luxury automakers are undertaking such a transformative endeavor. While Jaguar has produced exceptional vehicles, it must be acknowledged that the company began facing internal challenges in the late 1990s, gradually entangled in design stagnation. The XK, S-Type, and the third generation of the XJ masked their innovations beneath classically inspired exteriors, drawing upon forms and proportions that originated as far back as the 1960s.
As the tides shifted, marked notably by the introduction of the fourth-generation XJ, the stylish F-Pace SUV, the debut of the F-Type in 2014, and the truly groundbreaking I-Pace EV, it seemed that Jaguar had finally regained its stride. However, the transformation came too late. For a significant number of people, Jaguar remained entrenched as a heritage brand, heavily relying on the past glories of iconic vehicles like the E-Type. While it still commanded a dedicated following, this loyal fan base gradually dwindled, and the brand struggled to effectively capture the attention and loyalty of newer generations.
Jaguar’s core values of adventure, innovation, and excellence were always inherent, but the overwhelming success of Range Rover and Land Rover within JLR inevitably cast a shadow over Jaguar’s role. Looking back, it becomes clear that models like the mid-range XE lacked the necessary boldness, and the potential for evolution and transformation of the I-Pace was not fully realized. The most disappointing blow, however, came with the development of an entirely new XJ that had reached the production stage, only to be abruptly abandoned when management deemed it fell short of expectations.
Following that, the company entered a state of virtual hibernation. Chief designer Julian Thomson departed for General Motors a mere two years after assuming the role from Ian Callum. Design leadership was entrusted to Gerry McGovern, who is widely acclaimed, including by himself, as the savior of the Range Rover brand. McGovern’s vision for a smaller model, exemplified by the 2011 Evoque, as well as the introduction of more luxurious and upscale Range Rovers, alongside lifestyle-oriented offerings like the Range Rover Sport and Velar, propelled the SUV manufacturer with significant momentum and influence.
In light of such profound transformations, it would be unfair to disregard the outgoing F-Type as a relic for a bygone era and its corresponding customer base. Undeniably, the F-Type stands as an impressive vehicle, but in the face of evolving legislation and shifting customer demands, simply being a “fine machine” falls short. Recognizing the need to adapt, JLR has committed a substantial £15 billion investment towards a fresh product strategy over the next five years. This strategy will prioritize electrification and luxury, serving as the foundation for its four core brands: Range Rover, Defender, Discovery, and Jaguar.
McGovern envisions the upcoming Jaguars as ‘original creations with no imitations‘. The company is undergoing a ‘radical reimagination’ to establish itself as a contemporary luxury brand.’
Jaguar has so far released a solitary teaser image of their first upcoming model among the three promised ones. Described as a ‘4-door GT,’ the image hints at a wide and low vehicle, characterized by broad sides and distinct sharp lines. Positioned at a profitable starting price in the six-figure range and offering ample opportunities for customization, accessories, and personalization options, this represents the sweet spot for those aspiring towards electric luxury. The generous dimensions of a large four-door GT provide the ideal platform to accommodate a long-range battery pack and offer substantial luggage space, while the lower center of gravity enhances dynamic driving characteristics (a feat that is considerably more challenging to achieve in a heavy, high-sided SUV). Notable competitors in this segment include Porsche’s Taycan, the upcoming Polestar 4, and the Audi e-tron GT. While £15 billion may seem substantial, it will need to be allocated across four distinct brands to match the refined excellence of these vehicles.
When the F-Type Coupé was initially unveiled to the press, Jaguar temporarily occupied a magnificent house designed by John Pardey, situated along the Thames riverbank. This location perfectly embodied the essence of British luxury design with its elegant and understated aesthetic, reflecting the spirit of post-war modernism. The design ethos embraced a deep appreciation for craftsmanship, materials, and processes, with a touch of eccentricity. Above all, it exuded an air of subtle reservation, exhibiting a discreet skepticism towards anything ostentatious, provocative, or unconventional.
However, as McGovern extended the reach of Range Rover beyond the Home Counties to destinations like Monaco, Miami, and Courchevel, some of that discreetness inevitably faded. The range-topping Range Rover model, the SV, now commands a starting price of nearly €205,000.
Will the pursuit of wealth dampen the impact of Jaguar’s sometimes deliberately conflicting array of strong British characteristics? The traditional Jaguar brand was built upon distinctive elements of an identity that are now fading, most of which have become irrelevant in today’s fiercely unsentimental era. As the thunderous exhaust note of the F-Type 75 reverberates among Monaco’s crowded skyscrapers, the bygone days will fade into oblivion. Whether they will be succeeded by a more stylish incarnation remains to be discovered.
Jaguar F-Type 75 Coupé, from 89.661 €, jaguar.fr or jaguar.com