The Jag’s in the bag

Okay folks, Jaguar cars are now officially available in the country. The new bunch of Jags may be awesome, but they still have a mighty job in front of them to compete with the well-entrenched Germans. Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have a stronger, well-established lineup in India with more choice and powertrain options (for some reason, Tata Motors are not offering diesel Jaguars in the country). The only way Jaguar can outflank the Germans is by talking about their exclusivity and the ‘not-for-everyone’ kind of imagery. Such an elitist appeal may not bring in the volumes, but I don’t think Tata Motors is looking for serious volumes anyway (otherwise they would start assembly in India!). Besides, it helps keep Jaguar a notch above the Germans and can only lead to more aspirational value.

At the launch press conference yesterday (28 June 2009 was a Sunday and that was the only day all the stars of the Tata Motors and JLR galaxy could align), I was left thinking about the legendary Jaguars that I had driven in India. And they make up one helluva list – the SS100, the XK150S, the E-Type, the Mark II and the XJS. Phew! That’s awesome, even if I say so myself (though the one great Jag missing is the XK120, but that day is not too far away!). These are cars which are not only watershed models in the manufacturer’s history, but are important cars to feature in any book compiling the greatest cars ever made. Though decades separate these five models, there are two things they have in common: they are gorgeous and they are fast. Well, what else do you want from a car?

Having driven these classics, I wonder what the new XK/XKR and XF/XFR will be like. They are good-looking and I am sure they are pretty fast too. But: Do they have the spirit of Sir William Lyons and his beloved Jaguars? Do they deserve to wear that hallowed badge? Will they be considered historic Jaguars 50 years down the line? I need to drive them; that’s the only way to find out.