In a recent column, Peter De Lorenzo skewers Jaguar’s latest marketing efforts:
The stewards of Jaguar have decided that they will use the launch of the F-Type to reinvent the brand so as to appeal to a whole new hipper audience. In the process of doing so they will turn the brand into a recurring joke, with “baddest ass badboys” thrown in for good measure.
It’s an insult to the brand’s legacy and a rank insult to anyone who might even be remotely interested in checking the F-Type out.
I’d take it even further, though, and conjecture the British automaker’s recent hit-and-miss attempts to reposition themselves in the marketplace extend past the veneer of marketing, down into the realm of production development. Marketers, after all, although they influence engineers and designers, can only work with what they’re given.
With the new F-Type, Jaguar’s (ambitiously) stated benchmark is the Porsche 911, and yet the car weighs 400 lbs more than a base 911 and sports no manual transmission option, at least initially. Sure, they may load the car up with enough power to dust the German sports car in a straight line, but nowadays your average high-performance luxury sedan from Mercedes and Audi can accomplish that feat—the differences lies in the dynamics. That’s what makes a car distinctive; what gives it personality, character, and over time, what builds a brand image. The F-Type, regrettably, seems to take a page from the retro-themed BMW Z8 playbook in that it tries to be all things to all people—luxury cruiser and tire-smoking sports car—and ends up not being very good at either of them. Not only that, but its design is far too backward-looking in light of the successful launch of the XF and XJ luxury sedans, whose design ushered in new themes for Jaguar and had the opportunity to help position the brand as a design leader, a British Audi, if you will—if they had maintained that forward-looking styling direction.
But…the F-Type is a step backward design-wise, and its powerplant and chassis philosophy reflect a lack of focus on the part of its manufacturer. In light of that, perhaps the marketers are simply making the best of a less-than-ideal situation.
Image credit: autoblog.com