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The Jaguar Plan

Jaguar’s R brand: Car engineers having fun Add to ...

Not all of the 10 new products coming from Jaguar Cars this year are all-new, but they are all interesting and capable of creating enough buzz to juice global sales 29 per cent so far this year.

Jaguar is now pushing hard to reinvigorate the ‘R’ brand launched in 1988 and famous for winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the XJR-9 – the Silk Cut car. BMW has its ‘M,” Mercedes-Benz, its AMG. So it only makes for Jag to push ahead with a line of R cars.

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But not all Rs are created alike. Basic R models like the XJR are high-performance luxury cars. The next level of performance are the R-S models like the XFR-S. The idea here is to take a road car and tune it to the limit of what’s safe and sensible. Track-ready road cars are epitomized by, say, the R-S GT coupe. So a range of Rs is in the offing. They are all the product of a kind of in-house “skunks” works. Another name for that is the place where engineers with petrol in their veins go to have fun.

This is all good and it makes sense for brand building. And it helps to create a positive buzz among buyers that is reflected in so-called “things gone right” consumer studies such as the latest J.D. Power and Associates APEAL study. In the 2013 APEAL study, the Jaguar brand is ranked No. 8 overall.

Jaguar, the brand, is also making progress in cutting down on the number of things gone wrong in its new cars. In the latest J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study, Jaguar finished well above the average – ahead of Mercedes, Audi and BMW, to name three. But in the more telling J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, the Jaguar brand ranks near the bottom. This is a three-year study and speaks more to long-term dependability than the IQS.

The point is, the engineers I am sure are thrilled to tune up cars of the R line, yet there is still work to be done at what we’ll call the nuts and bolts of the car business. The nose-to-the-grindstone work continues.

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