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Jaguar engineer: X-Type replacement to be RWD

by Andrew Ganz

A Jaguar engineer has let it slip that the automaker's upcoming small luxury sedan will feature a rear-wheel-drive platform.

Jaguar's upcoming compact luxury sedan will feature a rear-wheel-drive platform, says one of the company's top engineers.

The as-of-yet-unnamed small sedan has been out of production for about two years after a the weak-selling first generation was canned. Based on the front-wheel-drive Ford Mondeo, most X-Types were all-wheel-drive - two vehicle configurations that were essentially unheard of for Jaguar-branded vehicles.

"We learned a massive lesson," Jaguar group engineering chief Bob Joyce told Australia's GoAuto. The new car will feature a rear-drive platform "because that's what we're good at."

"I think there was a lot of noise at the time about the X-Type being related to the Mondeo, but it also missed out on a lot of things. It was constrained by the fact that we didn't have a diesel version in Europe and we didn't have an estate."

Jaguar did later add both diesel and estate (station wagon) versions, but they were simply a case of "too little, too late" for the doomed X-Type.

What we know so far
Reports suggest that the X-Type could ride on a shortened version the next-generation XK platform. The premium rear-wheel-drive architecture set to underpin the replacement for Jaguar's svelte - but pricey - coupe and convertible models would no doubt alleviate any driving dynamics concerns raised by the last X-Type.

The use of the expensive XK platform might seem a bit odd in a lower-priced model, but Jaguar could be betting on making up for the initial costs by going for high volumes. Previously, it had been hinted that Jaguar would use a sophisticated dedicated aluminum platform for the X-Type; sharing such technology with the XK seems considerably more feasible if Jaguar wants to sell the car for around $40,000 in the United States.

According to Automotive News, the next-generation X-Type has also been approved in both sedan and five-door/wagon variants in an effort to better compete with the "default" German offerings, the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

The latest reports suggest that the next-generation small Jaguar could go on sale as soon as 2014, although we've previously heard that a late 2013 on-sale date is more likely, while others suggest 2015.

Leftlane has specifically asked Jaguar designer Ian Callum about the potential of a smaller sedan model, but the revered Brit has kept quiet, rewarding us instead with a sly grin.

We can at least speculate that the reborn X-Type would boast lines similar to those seen on the all-new Jaguar XJ, although they'll probably be toned down a bit in an effort to appeal to a wider audience. It's hard for us to imagine a wagon variant using the XJ's design language, but Callum has been known to surprise.

As for powertrains, small-displacement turobcharged four-cylinder gasoline and diesel offerings seem most likely given stringent fuel economy standards. Especially in Europe, it will be important for Jaguar to keep displacements low if it wants to compete in the highly lucrative tax-regulated commercial vehicle market.

And don't look for the X-Type name to return. Reports have suggested both XE and XS nomenclature, both of which would fit in well with Jaguar's planned return to alphanumeric naming.

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