Jaguar and Land Rover are moving to a lighter-weight future as the new 2011 Jaguar XJ--which we're driving this week in Los Angeles, natch--will spawn a whole new generation of aluminum-bodied vehicles for the British brands.
The last-generation XJ probably was the car that sealed Jaguar's fate with Ford. Full of all sorts of technological goodness, the prior version wasn't sexy enough to woo buyers from BMW, and its sales failure set Jaguar's sale to Tata in motion.
With its glam, curvy new body, the 2011 XJ cures its styling problems. And according to reports from Autocar (via our sister site MotorAuthority) and now, Automobile magazine, the new XJ is going to be the basis for a new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, as well as a new Jaguar XF.
The Range Rover and Sport will arrive sometime in the 2012-2013 time frame. The bonded and riveted aluminum body of the XJ will morph into an off-roadable platform that could drop up to 880 pounds from the hefty SUVs' curb weights.
The same fundamentals will lead to a new Jaguar XF, probably in the 2014 model year. The current Jaguar XK already rides on such a structure.
Moving to aluminum structures should help Jaguar shed the typical luxury-car image for poor fuel economy, in tandem with emissions and transmission improvements. For example, though the recent addition of massively powerful 5.0-liter V-8 engines to the 2010 Jaguar XF has made it far more powerful, its fuel economy is slightly improved. A combination of lightweight bodies, downsized engines and improvements in frictional losses could one day lead to...a 30-mpg Jaguar?
Stay tuned. We'll be reporting live from our 2011 Jaguar XJ drive on Thursday.